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

Medium
2-4 Weeks
Behavior

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.

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.

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.

The Know Your Dog Method

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Step
1
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.'
Step
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.
Step
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.'
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

The Command Method

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Step
1
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.'
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

The Best Bed Ever Method

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Step
1
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Bella
Bernese Mountain Dog
14 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Bella
Bernese Mountain Dog
14 Months

I want her to sleep in a dog bed at night. She usually sleeps in bed with me at night. She is in her crate during the day. When we are home she naps on the couch, floor, and my bed (only if I am in my bed).

Can she be trained to sleep in my bed at night and be able to nap wherever during the day????

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
416 Dog owners recommended

Hello Dayna, Yes, it will just take a bit longer to teach her to stay off the bed only at night. The key here is for her not to get on the bed when you are on the bed and wanting to sleep... It has more to do with you being in bed, than time of day. Teach her the Off command and be very consistent about enforcing it and making her stay off any time she tries to jump up, make her bed a rewarding place to be by placing treats on it during the day so that she prefers her own bed more - no food at night though. If she is getting on your bed while you are asleep so you can't enforce off, then use a chew-proof leash, like VirChewLy, screw an eye-hook into the baseboard or a stud in the wall by her dog bed, and attach the leash to the eye-hook and the other end to her normal collar or back clip harness. Make sure there is enough slack in the leash that she can get comfortable and use something like VirChewLy that is less likely to tangle her up. While you are awake, enforce the off-command yourself so she will learn, but when you get ready to go to sleep, clip her to the leash while she is on her bed to keep her near there during the night. Once she has learned the rules at night, becomes good at staying off the bed when you tell her to, and gets into the habit of sleeping on her own bed at night, you may not need the leash to be clipped to her anymore - the key is to create a new habit of her sleeping on her own bed - which can take some time since she is already in the habit of sleeping with you, so stay consistent. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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