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How to Train Your Dog to Sleep in a Certain Room

How to Train Your Dog to Sleep in a Certain Room
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon1-4 Weeks
General training category iconGeneral

Introduction

You’ve always loved cuddling up with your dog when you sleep at night. You wanted the company and he gladly obliged. Now you have a new partner though, and a dog sleeping between you isn’t quite what your partner envisaged on moving in. Your dog is also quite defensive and protective about who sleeps in his bedroom, so you know it’s time to make a change. He’s not a puppy anymore either, so maybe some independence will do him good.

Training him to sleep in a certain room is good for both of you. He needs to be able to survive without you, at day and at night. It will make leaving him in kennels or at a friend's when you go on vacation easier, too.

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Defining Tasks

The training itself isn’t always a walk in the park. It depends largely on how long your dog has been used to sleeping wherever he likes. If he’s mature and you’re breaking a 10-year-old habit, then it may take a few weeks to get him truly settled into his new bedroom. If he’s just a puppy and new to having sleeping freedom, then taking it away could take just several days or a week. The biggest struggle comes with making his new sleeping area a comfy and desirable bedroom for him. Also, if you’ve spent years with him sleeping in your bed, then letting go of your cuddle buddy may prove challenging for you as well.

Succeed with this training and you’ll have a dog you can control and who won’t cause you any trouble at night time. 

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Getting Started

Before you start your new training regime you’ll need a few things. You’ll need a comfy bed and toys, plus treats to make your dog's new sleeping area nice and appealing. You’ll also need to set aside a few minutes each day for getting him familiar and excited for his new bedroom.

You’ll have to find all your patience and resilience to stick with the training campaign, so bring the right attitude. Once you’ve collected all of that, you can get to work!

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The ‘Bed’ Method

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1

Stand by his bed

Be right next to the bed in the room you want your dog to sleep in and then call him over. Make sure you’ve got a pocket full of treats with you.

2

‘Bed’

Issue the verbal command, then point at his bed and encourage him to head there. Once your dog has looked at you puzzled for a while, he’ll finally clock on and take a step onto the bed. As soon as he does that, give him a treat and shower him with praise.

3

Increase the distance

Repeat this again and again over the next few days. As you practice, slowly increase the distance you are from the bed when you send him there. The trick is to increase the distance gradually. Keep practicing until you can send your pooch to his bed when you aren’t even in the room. At this point, you can cut out the treats, he’ll no longer need them to follow your command.

4

Apply it at night

When the evening comes, send him to his new room/bed with the command. Be firm and clear so he knows you mean business. If he trots back out, send him straight back. If he comes into your room or another room at night again, give the command in a louder, clearer voice. You will need to be persistent. It will take him several days to a week before he finally realizes that he needs to stay in that room all night.

5

Water spray for the persistent ones

If he consistently comes back after you send him to bed, you may need to use a deterrent. A simple spray of water near his face will give him a little fright and help reinforce the point. Use this each time he comes back or into your bed, give him the ‘bed’ command. Once he gets the message, you can go back to drinking water instead of spraying it.

The Routine Method

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Follow a timeline

Each evening, try and be consistent. Give your dog his food, take him to go potty, and then put him to bed at the same time. It should never be a surprise when you want him to go to bed. Routine brings with it comfort, so take him to his new room at the same time each evening.

2

Leave a treat on the bed

An easy way to get him to go in there in the first place is to put a treat on his bed. Simply having something in there to look forward to will encourage him to head in there each evening.

3

Say ‘good night’

Spend a couple of minutes gently playing with him and stroking him. Get him comfortable and happy, then say good night and leave him. It’s important you follow this routine each day and then he won’t be surprised when you leave.

4

Go and get him in the morning

Having a routine in the morning is also important. If he’s not already up, go and say 'good morning' and stroke him. Doing this in the morning and evening will teach him that going to bed and where he goes to bed is on your terms. It will also comfort him to know you’ll be there when he goes to sleep and you’ll still be there first thing in the morning.

5

Be consistent

If you slip up every couple of evenings your dog won’t stick to his new room. You need to stick to your routine every evening or the process will take considerably longer. But be patient, be rigorous, and it will pay off.

The Gentle Cold Shoulder Method

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Make the new room all his

If you want your dog to sleep somewhere else, you need to make it feel like his own. Play with him there in the day. Allow him to have some space in there that is totally his. It will then start to feel like his territory, a safe place where he can escape to.

2

Add some home comforts

To start with, you may want to put some old clothes of yours into his new room and bed. The smell of you will help put him at ease. It will also help to leave his toys in there. All of this will make him feel more comfortable.

3

Leave the door open wide

To start with, you need to keep the door open so he can escape if he wants. This may not make sense now, but the idea is you show your dog gradually that he’s not missing out on anything. It also stops you cutting all ties in one go, which won’t be easy for him.

4

Gradually close the door

Each night, close the door a little bit more, until it is only just ajar and then finally completely shut it. This will allow your dog to slowly get used to not having his own freedom anymore.

5

Put him to bed

Each night, take him to his new room and slowly stroke him for a few minutes until he gets sleepy. Think of it like taking a child to bed at night and reading them a bed time story. Keep doing this and all of the above steps until he’s comfortable in there. Then you can slowly stop taking him to bed each night.

By James Barra

Published: 10/24/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Billy

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Pointer

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5 Years

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Question

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Hi; Billy has been sleeping in his own room fine for years but has all of a sudden decided he won’t go in there. I have to drag him in and keep putting him to bed until he stays long enough for me to exit the room. As soon as you say bed at night he runs into a different room and lies down so he doesn’t have to go into his bedroom. Once he is in his bedroom I don’t hear a peep. He has no health conditions and as far as I am aware, nothing has changed in the room for him to be scared of. Is this just a phase? He doesn’t go in the room in the day as he is in the lounge with us or out and about. Do you think it’s a form of separation anxiety?

Sept. 30, 2021

Billy's Owner

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Alisha Smith - Alisha S., Dog Trainer

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257 Dog owners recommended

Hello! This is fairly common, although frustrating for owners. Something extremely minor may disrupt their routine and they need to be "re-trained" to do something they have spent years doing with no problems. He could be developing some mild separation anxiety. But the best thing to do is to keep going with his routine. You can also try giving him a small treat at bed time for the next week or so, so he is more inclined to go in there and look forward to it. This issue will likely resolve itself on it's own without much intervention needed.

Oct. 1, 2021

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Simba

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toy poodle

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11 Weeks

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Hi there. So I don’t want to crate train can’t bring myself to do this. We have had this bundle of joy for nearly 4 weeks now. We got a pen and tried everything but he was so distressed it didn’t work. I have a two storey home with the living area downstairs. I have an area setup for him with his bed which is where we want him to sleep. Loves his bed and goes to it on command at night. During the day is challenging. But he is very attached to me. So I’m currently sleeping on the lounge where he can see me. How do I gradually train him to be left alone sleeping at night ?

Sept. 2, 2021

Simba's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Maha, I would have pup spend time in the pen with you out of the room during the day, at first for short periods of time, increasing the amount of time alone gradually. Check out the Surprise method from the article I have linked below. That method outlines how to get a dog used to a crate gradually, but you can use the same steps for a bed or any confined area. At this age pup does need to be confined somewhere at night or pup isn't safe because of the teething pup will be going through and the danger of ingesting something or chewing through danger things like wires, plus potty training won't progress if pup has too much freedom at night. Know that it's normal for puppies to cry when getting used to being left alone. Almost every puppy does it, and almost every puppy can get to the point where they are okay with it with time and practice. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Sept. 2, 2021


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