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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Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Pearl
Husky
Two Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Pearl
Husky
Two Months

How do I get Pearl to stay in one place during the nighttime? I try to get her to stay in one place, however, during the night she gets up and plays around. She also has difficulty learning on how to stop biting and listening to me.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainier
78 Dog owners recommended

Hello Angel, At two months of age, it is normal for a puppy to try to initiate a game or get your attention by mouthing you, even at night. She will need to learn through consistency and boundaries that night is the time for sleep and where she is allowed to be for sleep. For a puppy that age, I recommend creating a small confined area for her to sleep in while she learns. If you wish for her to be in your bedroom, then set up the area in your bedroom, preferably in an area where you would like for her to sleep when she is a large dog later too. The habits she forms now will often determine what she tried to do later. For a confined area you can either use a crate, which works well for potty training also, purchase an exercise pen and adjust the size to fit her needs as she grows, or create your own barricade, that will be sturdy enough to be safe but escape proof. She will likely protest the new confinement at first. She is doing this because it is new and she wants to play and be with you instead. Essentially she is trying to get your attention. Ignore her at night unless she needs to go to the bathroom, and work on making the confined space relaxing and enjoyable during the day, using the same type of methods that you would use for crate training. If you work on making the confined space pleasant during the day and not giving into her protests at night, then she will learn with time that night is the time for sleeping. You can also place the confined space right by your bed so that you are close by, but I recommend only doing this if you are OK with her laying next to your bed as an adult too. Once she learns that night is the time for sleeping, and forms a habit of relaxing in her space, then when she is older you can give her freedom in your room when she is trustworthy enough not to have an accident or destroy something, and she will rest calmly there instead of trying to play. If you would like for her to sleep in your bed as an adult, then I would still recommend what I suggested doing, so that she has the opportunity to learn how to settle herself, but after she learns how to relax when you put her to bed, and forms a habit of being calm at night, and is safe while unsupervised, then you can encourage her onto your bed, and move her to her confined area any nights that she will not leave you alone in the bed. That way she will learn that playing gets her banished to the confined area because night is the time for sleep, and that relaxing is the only option while on the bed. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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