How to Train Your Dog to to Sleep in a Designated Spot

Medium
2-4 Weeks
General

Introduction

Training your dog where to sleep rather than leaving him where he is when he falls asleep will make your nights more manageable and your dog more secure. A puppy especially will thrive with routines and boundaries. Setting your expectations early on, whether you have a new puppy in your family or have adopted an older dog, will be an early opportunity to bond. 

Training your dog to sleep in a specific place each night will not only give him the boundaries he needs to thrive as your family dog but will also give him the routine he needs to know where to go each night at bedtime, will give him a sense of security. He needs to know that he is safe while he sleeps. If your dog is not well trained to know where his special sleeping spot is, he could keep you awake all night pacing while finding a place that is most comfortable.

Defining Tasks

The most challenging thing in finding a special place for your dog to sleep each night may be choosing the right location. If you do not plan on having your dog sleep in your bedroom with you, even if not in your bed, you need to pick a space where he will feel safe and comfortable while away from you. Sleep training for dogs is mostly about time and repetition. He is going to want comfort and security all night long. Creating repetitive routines regarding this space that is just for him to sleep is imperative for teaching him where he needs to be once it is time to go to bed. The second most important thing in training your dog to know where he is to sleep each night is providing him with a bed that is comfortable and one that he will want to stay in it all night. This means potentially changing beds as he grows and also knowing how your dog sleeps. You may start off for the first few nights with your dog on a folded blanket on the floor. If your dog sleeps curled up in a little ball, he may want a small bed with raised sides to provide security and comfort. If your dog sleeps stretched out, he won't be comfortable in a bed with high sides but may prefer a larger bed that can accommodate his longer body.

Getting Started

Though you may not want the ideal bed to start if you don't know how your dog sleeps, you are going to want to start with something special, even if it is just a blanket or a throw rug, to mark the spot where you plan on having your dog sleep. You will also want some special treats to reward your dog for a job well done as he learns where his sleeping area is located. Approach bedtime with a calm nature and wake up time excited to see your dog. And over time, even if it is just a few days or weeks, get to know how your dog sleeps and in what positions, so you can provide him the proper size bed with the right support. An older dog may serve well on a memory foam mattress whereas a small dog may like a round mattress with high sides to provide security and comfort.

The Daytime Sleep Method

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Step
1
Choose a bed
Pick a bed your dog will love. If he is a puppy, he may want a smaller bed, so he is comfortable and snug. If your dog stretches out during deep sleep, he may enjoy a larger bed. A memory foam bed will be comfortable for large breeds or older dogs.
Step
2
Place and introduce
Pick a perfect spot for your pup’s bed and make a big deal with your dog of pointing it out. You can also place some favorite toys near the bed so he can chew during his quiet times. On a leash, take your dog to his bed to introduce it.
Step
3
Command
Give a command such as ‘go to bed,’ and toss a treat onto his new bed.
Step
4
Lie down
If your dog knows the ‘down’ command, give it to ask him to lie down on the bed. You can also pat the bed or point and begin to train this command.
Step
5
Treat
When he lies down on his bed, give him a treat.
Step
6
Repeat
Repeat these steps until he understands this is his bed and where he should rest and sleep.
Step
7
Day sleep
Anytime he is sleepy during the day, take him to his bed and encourage him to sleep in his bed during the day.
Step
8
Bed time
When it is bed time, give him the command you used to introduce the bed and send him off to bed.
Step
9
Redirect
If he is not to be in your bedroom, you may need to close your door or take him to his bed for the first few nights as he is getting used to his new bed. Your dog will likely want to be with you. If you are okay with him being in the bedroom with you, place his bed in your room and when you got to bed give him the command to go to bed as well.
Step
10
Practice
As your dog practices this new knowledge of where his bed is located, he will begin to go to his bed on his own when he's ready to nap or go to bed at the end of the day.
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The Puppy Method

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Step
1
Choose a spot
For a new puppy, it’s important to start off with a sleeping spot you are happy with. If you bring your puppy into your bed, expect him to stay there as he grows. If you’d like him to sleep in a dog bed or a crate, introduce this right away. If you’d like him in your bedroom but not in your bed, be sure he has access to his bed when you are away from the house.
Step
2
Lead
With a treat, lead your puppy to his bed and use a command, such as ‘go night night’ or ‘go to bed.’ Avoid carrying him to bed or he will expect to be carried to bed every day.
Step
3
Training
Your puppy will whine during the night. As he’s learning to potty train, you’ll need to take him out a few times to go potty. As a general rule, most puppies can hold it one hour for each month they are old. So, your four-month-old puppy may be able to hold it for about four hours. If he whines other than to go potty, ignore him. He will calm and get to sleep.
Step
4
Bedtime
Before the day ends, make sure your puppy has exerted his energy. Talk him for a walk or play with him before bedtime to tire him out. Also, be sure he’s had his last meal of the day and goes outside to go potty before he heads to bed. Once he’s ready, lead him to his bed with a ‘go to bed’ command.
Step
5
Good night
Have your puppy go to bed when you go to bed. This way, even if his bed is not in your bedroom, the house is left quiet, leaving him ready to sleep.
Step
6
Practice
Puppies need time to adjust to being alone without their mothers. If your puppy whines or needs attention to sleep, try to refrain and let him soothe his anxieties. If he’s persistent, he may need to go outside. After about two weeks with your puppy, he should not only be used to his new home and family but also used to his new bed.
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The By Command Method

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Step
1
Bedtime command
Choose a bedtime command you will use with your dog every time you’d like her to head to bed. This could be ‘go to bed’ or ‘go night night’ or anything else you pick. Be sure to use this same command each time as you train and as your dog ages to tell her to go to bed.
Step
2
Place bed
Find the perfect spot for your dog’s bed. Try not to move it around too much, so put some thought into where you’d like your dog to sleep.
Step
3
Acknowledge bed
Walk with your dog toward his bed. As soon as he looks at the bed, say your command, and give him a treat. You are rewarding him for simply acknowledging the bed.
Step
4
Repeat
Walk your dog around the house and each time you pass his bed, use the command and give him a treat as long as he looks at the bed.
Step
5
Sit and down
Repeat the steps above but raise your expectations and encourage your dog to sit on the bed before moving to an expectation of lying on the bed. Be sure to repeat the command each time, so your dog connects the command with the bed and the action. Each time your dog is successful, give him a treat.
Step
6
Use command
Once he is comfortable with the bed, begin to walk by the bed with your dog and use the command. If he lies on the bed, give him a treat. If he is not ready to lie down, you may need to repeat the steps above until he understands the expectation is that he 'lie down' on command.
Step
7
Continue
Keep practicing the command with your dog. Once he’s lying in his bed on command, you can begin to use the command at bedtime with the expectation that the will go lie in his bed.
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Written by Stephanie Plummer

Published: 11/02/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Lincoln
Basset Hound
4 Years
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Question
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Lincoln
Basset Hound
4 Years

He was so used to in my apartment sleeping outside my room door now we moved to a new house and we have a room stairs for him to sleep he is only moaning and howling.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
944 Dog owners recommended

Hello Neal, First, work on teaching the Quiet command during the day using the Quiet method from the article linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Second, during the day practice the Surprise method from the article linked below. Confine pup in the room where they will be sleeping. Whenever pup stays quiet in the crate for 5 minutes, open the door just enough to sprinkle some treats onto their dog bed in that room, then close the door and leave the room again. If pup won't break or climb over a baby gate, you can also do this over a baby gate with the door open and pup inside that room due to the gate. As he improves, only give the treats every 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour, 1.5 hour, 2, hour, 3 hour. Practice confining him during the day for 1-3 hours each day that you can. If you are home during the day, have lots of 30 minute - 1 hour long sessions with breaks between to practice this, to help pup learn sooner. Whenever he cries in the room or scratches, tell him "Quiet" or "Ah Ah" for the scratching. If he gets quiet/stops scratching - Great! Sprinkle treats in after five minutes if he stays quiet. If he continues barking/scratching or stops and starts again, spray a quick puff of air from a pet convincer at his side through the door opening while calmly saying "Ah Ah", then leave again. Only use unscented air canisters, DON'T use citronella! And avoid spraying in the face. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Repeat the rewards when quiet and the corrections whenever he cries. When he cries at night (in the the room where you want him to sleep) before it has been 8 hours or the amount of time you know for sure pup can hold their bladder for even when awake (so you know it's not a potty issue), tell him Quiet, and correct with the pet convincer if he doesn't become quiet and stay quiet. You can also periodically sprinkle treats in the room where pup will be sleeping during the day, to help pup develop a habit of going to that room on their own frequently and associating that room with good things, so pup is more comfortable with it at night also. If pup has a history of aggression, I would hire a professional trainer to help you with this. Additional safety measures will be needed to train safely in that case. I wouldn't do this on your own with aggression or signs of aggression present. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Furious Stylz
Giant Schnauzer
7 Months
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Question
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Furious Stylz
Giant Schnauzer
7 Months

I am trying to determine the best bed for
Furious. He sleeps in the position of the picture attached most often but he mostly sleeps in the kitchen on the ceramic tile. I know this is not good for his joints and bone growth but this is the surface he prefers. He has a crate he will lay in on occasion but he prefers these 3 spots in the kitchen. I was thinking because likes that surface he may want something flat and cool like a raised bed as opposed to the bed in his crate that has memory foam and is cushiony. Look for advice on a bed choice.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
944 Dog owners recommended

Hello Gantry, With spring and summer approaching, he may prefer something cool to the touch. Does he like to be elevated? If so, a cot type bed could be a great choice. If he doesn't like to be elevated, something like www.primopads.com crate mats (firmer foam cushion with cool vinyl cover, or one of k9ballistics crate pads may be worth looking into. Something a bit firmer and cooler is probably what I would look into for warmer months. You may find he changes his preferences too throughout the year as weather changes, and pup is wanting to lie close to wherever the people are though, so the soft bed could get more use in a few months again. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Cacao
Australian Shepherd
3 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Cacao
Australian Shepherd
3 Months

Hi :)
I have been with Cacao for a month and he's a great pup (already knows sit, down, both hands, high five, roll...) typical Aussie.
He sleeps with me and has never had a nighttime accident. I take him out when he wakes up and he pees and poops outside.
During the day I have trouble making him nap. I don't have a crate, sometimes he gets overtired and runs, bites, nips... I want to find a way to help him rest when he's tired :) would using a leash close to his bed help? Thanks!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
944 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ana, You can either use a crate, an exercise pen, or a chew proof tether near his bed. I only recommend tethering when you are home though. Check out something like Vir-Chew-Ly that's chew proof. At this age pup is also likely to chew their bed out of boredom, so make sure the bed is durable, like k9ballistic.com type beds where the stuffing isn't easily pulled out. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Shasha
Shih Tzu
6 Years
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Question
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Shasha
Shih Tzu
6 Years

she has always been surrounded with other dogs and is used to sleeping upstairs in bed with me. i have just moved out of the family home and trying to train her to sleep downstairs in the kitchen using metal pen doors to stop her from escaping. She cries for a while and has figured out how to escape, she has also started barking during the night.
how do i train her to sleep downstairs on her own? I already put chew toys, treats, blankets with pack scent as well as my personal blanket which has my scent on and her favourite bed in their and say go night nights every night and give her a fuss in the mornings

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
944 Dog owners recommended

Hello Gemma, First, I recommend spying on pup with a camera to see how they are escaping and securing that area better. Practice rewarding pup in that sleeping area during the day by returning to pup if they are calm and not scratching for a certain amount of time, by sprinkling treats into their area without letting them out, then leaving again. At first, reward for less time, then require pup to stay calm longer before you return as they improve. At night, use the baby gate also so they catch scratch the door. Either ignore pup at night or give a gentle correction, like a brief puff of air at their side with unscented air (not citronella, it's too harsh), calmly telling pup "ahah", then leave again. Only reward with food during the daytime practice so you don't keep pup awake hoping for food. If pup won't give you a break in the escape attempts during daytime practice too, you can also correct then, and reward after you correct and pup stays quiet for a couple of minutes, until the amount of time pup stays quiet extends and there are less times you need to correct. Reward similar to this method: Surprise method- https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Mikaya
Min-pin mix
12 Years
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Question
0 found helpful
Mikaya
Min-pin mix
12 Years

We just adopted a dog after her previous owner who we knew, passed away. She slept in bed with him. She has spent six weeks prior to us getting her, in a foster home, not sleeping in a bed. We tried putting her bed in our large walk-in closet next to our bedroom for the last few nights, but she is not happy in there. She scratches the door. I shook a can filled with coins outside the door saying "no". That works for awhile and she is back scratching. She is an angel during the day but nights are a problem. I am tempted to just let her roam the house at night so we can sleep, putting her bed outside our door. Our bedroom door is next to the lanai (we live in FL) where she goes outside, so I would hear her if she wanted to go outside during the night. Any help you can give us would be greatly appreciated!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
944 Dog owners recommended

Hello, Letting her wander the house at night depends a lot on your own preference for where she sleeps, whether she is destructive, how fully potty trained she is, and whether she would find a spot to settle down to sleep or her pacing keep you up. If you are personally fine with her being loose at night, and she is completely reliable with potty training and chewing during the day, you can certainly try it, and if she won't settle or gets into things, then you would know that that is not the best option for you. If you want pup to sleep in the closet at night, I would practice the Surprise method with her in there during the day, starting with shorter periods. I would correct any scratching with a calm "Ah Ah" and a brief puff of air from an unscented Pet Convincer - which sprays a little pressurized air out. Only aim at her side, avoid her face. You can also hold the canister further away to make it gentler, so its more of just the sound. You might also want to use a baby gate at the door way instead of closing the door, if that won't disturb your sleep at night. That way pup won't scratch the door while learning to be calmer while in there, and may feel more secure if they can see more. Having the door closed is fine too if that helps with sleep, it may just take pup more time to adjust to that. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate/ Practicing proactively for shorter periods during the day with treats also, can help pup understand better what they are supposed to be doing in there. Only use treats during the day though, not at night. At night simply correct very calmly. Also, do not use citronella air - only unscented. Citronella is too harsh. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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