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How to Train Your Young Dog to Sleep in a Dog Bed

How to Train Your Young Dog to Sleep in a Dog Bed
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon2-4 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

We all have this vision when we bring a dog home. Before we get home or before we go pick up the dog, we may stop at our favorite pet store where we plan to spend much of our free time with our new dog. While at the store, we purchase food, of course, a few toys we know the dog will love, and the best dog bed available.

Often enough, the dream fizzles once the dog is home. This beautiful and potentially expensive dog bed becomes a piece of unused furniture in your home. Your dog shows no interest in it; he would rather be in bed with you or lying next to you on the floor while you both sleep. Dog beds around the world go unused, become donations down the road, or show up in veterinary offices and shelters in hopes of finding a dog who will sleep in it. 

Don’t let this happen to your dog bed. You can teach your dog to sleep in his bed. With a little bit of patience and time and a lot of repetition, your dog can learn his dog bed is only for him, is safe, and is the perfect place to sleep.

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Defining Tasks

Training your dog to sleep in his bed is going to take a lot of repetition. Having a new puppy can be stressful enough, but young dogs are sponges searching for knowledge of their world. It doesn't mean he will be there all the time, but dogs, especially puppies love the safety and security of routine. His bed will become exactly that -- a safe and secure place to routinely sleep. Training your dog to sleep on a dog bed might also involve knowing how your dog sleeps and where he would like to sleep. It is possible your dog doesn't have the right size or shape bed for his sleeping positions. If your dog likes his dog bed but doesn't sleep in it, it is also possible that your dog's bed is not in the right place. If your dog's bed is in your kitchen away from where you sleep, he may not want to be there because that's not where you are. If you are training your dog to sleep in his bed, you may need to consider his sleeping habits before you expect complete success.

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Getting Started

In order to train your dog to sleep in a dog bed, pay attention to how your dog sleeps before you buy a bed, if at all possible. If you have a small breed dog, you could probably get away with a small bed with high sides. These high sides will help keep him snuggled and safe. If you have a larger dog who likes to stretch out, a bed with sides may be in his way. Other than the bed, pay attention to where your dog likes to sleep. Have some tasty, high-value treats on hand for training sessions as well as for bedtime.

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The Know Your Dog Method

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Sleeping dogs

If you do not have a dog bed yet, pay attention to where your dog sleeps and how he likes to sleep. If your dog stretches out or sleeps on his back with his legs up in the air, he may need a square or rectangle bed without sides. If your dog likes to curl up in a little ball and sleep on your lap or in the corner of the couch, he may prefer a bed with high sides he can snuggle against.

2

Purchase bed

Purchase a bed based on your knowledge of your dog. Even if you happen to get the bed before the dog, try to purchase a bed knowing at least the size of your dog.

3

Location

Pick a location where you would prefer your dog to sleep. Keep in mind, especially if you have a puppy, your dog may prefer to be near you. If you want your dog to sleep in his bed, you can keep it in your bedroom. Or you may need to move it back and forth or provide more than one bed in a common area such as a family room and one where you expect him to sleep all night.

4

Basic Commands

Train basic commands before training to sleep in his bed. If your dog is a few weeks old, he may not be ready for training just yet. Before you teach your dog to sleep in his bed outside of just introducing the bed to him every time he sleeps, teach basic commands such as 'sit,' 'down,' and 'stay.'

5

Down

Once your dog knows the command 'down,' walk him to his bed and use the 'down' command to tell him to lie down on the bed.

6

Name the bed

Give this action or the bed itself a name. You can simply say 'bed,' or you can give the entire action a name or command such as 'go to bed.'

7

Reward

Once he lies down on his bed, offer him a treat while he's lying down. Be sure to lay the treat down on the bed so he doesn't have to get up to eat it.

8

Redirect

Anytime your dog leaves his bed to sleep elsewhere, walk him back to it and have him lie down again. Be sure to reward him and use the commands you gave for going to bed.

9

Daytime/nighttime

Make sure whether your dog is napping or going to bed for the evening, you are consistent with the steps above to encourage your dog to sleep in his bed each time he is sleeping. Be sure to walk your dog to his bed and not to carry him. If you begin to carry him to his bed, he will expect you to do that each time you give him the command to go to bed.

The Command Method

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Introduce a command

Starting with a time when your dog is sleepy, such as at the end of your day, introduce a command to go to bed. You can simply ask your dog if he would like to go to bed or go 'night night' or just use the command 'bed.'

2

Move toward bed

Since your dog is very sleepy he will probably be open to being guided to a different place to sleep. Use a treat to get your dog's attention and move him toward the bed.

3

Command

Use your command such as 'go to bed.' Head to the bed and place the treat on the bed for your dog to go get.

4

Lying down

Once your dog has climbed onto his bed and eats his treat, expect him to lie down. Be sure to give him lots of verbal praise once he's on his bed. If he's sleeping he should stay there. If not, encourage him to stay by offering him another treat on the bed.

5

Repeat

Anytime your dog is sleepy, whether daytime or nighttime, repeat the steps above encouraging your dog to go to his bed to sleep. You can use treats to entice your dog to move, and you can use treats to encourage your dog to stay there to sleep.

6

Connection

Your dog will begin to make the connection between the bed and how he feels when he's incredibly sleepy. Eventually, he will go to the bed on his own instead of allowing you to move him. When you notice him doing this, give him a treat on the bed and quietly praise him before he goes back to sleep.

7

Keep Practicing

Be consistent when you notice your dog getting sleepy or sleeping someplace else, and move your dog to his bed. When it's time for your dog to lay down and nap or when it's time for bed, encourage him to go to his bed by repeating the steps above, using treats to entice him to get there as well as encourage him to stay.

The Best Bed Ever Method

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Purchase beds

Your dog may want to nap wherever you frequent. If you have a home office, you may want a dog bed in your home office so while you're working, the dog can nap nearby. If you and your family are often in a family room, you may want a bed in that room as well, and of course at nighttime, your dog may want to be in your bedroom or in the hallway outside, or with a child.

2

Sleep time

Anytime your dog is sleeping in one of these places where you have a dog bed, encourage him to use the bed instead of your furniture or the floor. You can do this by waking your dog up if he's already sleeping and moving him into the bed with an encouraging reward treat.

3

Command

Teach your dog a command such as 'go to bed' anytime you move him to his dog bed so he understands his bed is where he needs to sleep, especially when you command him to do so.

4

Rewards

If your dog goes to his bed after you have asked him to go to sleep or go to bed with a command, be sure to give him a reward for following through.

5

Repetition

Repeat the steps above anytime your dog is sleeping or sleepy. During scheduled nap times or at bedtime, you should be able to use the same commands no matter which room you are in expecting your dog to find his dog bed within that room and climb on it before going to sleep.

6

Treat

Even if your dog climbs on the bed on his own without you asking him to, during training sessions at least, offer him a treat while he's in bed so he's rewarded for sleeping where you would like him to sleep.

7

Consistency

Be consistent no matter which room you are in. If you can supply dog beds around the house in all of the rooms your dog frequents, it will at least teach him he can sleep in any of these places and he should know where to go to sleep -- on his bed.

By Stephanie Plummer

Published: 11/30/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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albie

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patterdale terro

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8 Weeks

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dog is refusing to sleep in his bed and cry’s whenever he isn’t sleeping with someone.

April 13, 2021

albie's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Tilly, At 8 weeks of age I am guessing that you recently brought pup home? If that's the case, then know that what you are experiencing is completely normal. Pup is getting used to sleeping alone and that's an adjustment. Usually the first five days are the worst. It typically takes about two weeks for most pups to adjust completely; however, you can help that adjustment be as smooth as possible by doing the following. 1. When pup cries but doesn't have to go potty (like after you return them to the crate when they just went potty outside) be consistent about ignoring the crying until they go back to sleep. The more consistent you are the quicker the overall process tends to take even if it's hard to do for the first couple weeks. 2. When pup does truly need to go potty (when it's been at least 2 hours since pup last peed), take pup to go potty outside on a leash to keep pup focused and things calmer. Don't give treats, food, play, or much attention during these trips - boring and sleepy is the goal, then right back to bed after. This helps pup learn to only wake when they truly need to go potty and be able to put themselves back to sleep - helping them start sleeping longer stretches sooner and not ask to go out unless they actually need to potty. Pup will generally need 1-2 potty trips at night even after trained for a couple months though due to a small bladder. 3. Wait until pup asks to go potty by crying in the crate at night before you take them - opposed to setting an alarm clock, unless pup is having accidents in the crate and not asking to go out. This gives pup the chance to learn to start falling back to sleep when they wake in light sleep if they don't really need to go potty, instead of being woken up all the way when they could have held it a bit longer. 4. Practice the Surprise method from the article I have linked below to help pup get used to crate time during the day too - so that there is less crying at night due to pup adjusting to being alone. Surprise method - only give treats during daytime practice, not at night though: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

April 13, 2021

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Rocky

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Chihuahua

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2 Months

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I struggle to get him on his bed he tends to growl every-time I try to get him on his bed

Feb. 6, 2021

Rocky's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Briseyda, First, when you are there to supervise, I recommend keeping a drag leash on pup to make it easy for you to calmly pick up the end of the leash and lead up when you give a command and they don't obey. Second, check out the video linked below on teaching Place - which you can make pup's bed. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Third, work on getting puppy used to touch and handling. Use puppy's daily meal kibble to do this. Gently touch an area of puppy's body while feeding a piece of food. Touch an ear and give a treat. Touch a paw and give a treat. Hold his collar and give a treat. Touch his tail gently and give a treat. Touch his belly, his other paws, his chest, shoulder, muzzle and every other area very gently and give a treat each time. Keep these times calm and fun for pup. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Feb. 8, 2021


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