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.
Recommend training method?

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.
Recommend training method?

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.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Pearl
Husky
Two Months
1 found helpful
Question
1 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 Trainer
466 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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Question
Banjo
Blue Heeler
3 Months
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Question
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Banjo
Blue Heeler
3 Months

My banjo has been sleeping A cage at night in the living room, but I would like to gradually teach him to sleep in a normal dog bed beside my bed in my room, only thing is I’m not sure how to train him to get him to lay in the bed and stay throughout the night?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
466 Dog owners recommended

Hello Rebecca, I highly suggest waiting to make that transition. He has not hit the heavy chewing age yet. He also might start waking up early to play if he is not in a crate when he hits four or five months of age and gets more energy. He also is not fully potty trained yet, so is far more likely to have accidents in the early morning hours if he wakes up before you do. Right now you are teaching him how to be by himself, be potty trained, only chew on his items, and sleep on your schedule. Letting him out of the crate at this age could sabotage all of part of that. The good things that you are already doing by having him in the crate right now are setting up him to have more freedom for the rest of his life later, because he will be more trustworthy when older because he did not learn other bad habits while young. With that said, you can put his crate in your room, in the area where you later want his dog bed to be, either now or when he starts to get ready to sleep out of the crate when older. When he is old enough to be fully potty trained, not to chew anything he shouldn't when you cannot watch him, and past the six month energy spurt, then you can put the bed that you want to give him, in his crate for a couple of months. If he is ready to be out of the crate at night, then simply just put the bed in place of the crate, put away the crate, and encourage him to sleep on the bed. I do not recommend giving him a fluffy bed in the crate right now though because if he chews it and ingests it that can be dangerous. Wait until he is past the heavy chewing phase that typically increase around five months of age. When his new bed is in place without the crate, then throughout the day leave pieces of his food or treats on the bed for him to randomly find. Whenever you catch him laying on the bed, go over to him and put a treat between his front paws to encourage him to lay there more often in the future. You can also teach him a "Place" command and make his bed his "Place" so that you can tell him to go to his bed whenever he tries to get off. If he still tries to leave the bed, then put the bed by a wall, install an eyehook to the baseboard or wall, and tether him to the hook with a chewproof leash like VirChewLy leash so that he cannot leave the bed during the night when you are asleep and not able to enforce him staying on it. Doing all of these things should overtime create a strong habit of sleeping on his bed. Finding a bed that he likes will also help when he is older. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Pig
Shih Tzu
12 Years
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Question
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Pig
Shih Tzu
12 Years

Pig came to live with us about 4 years ago. She used to sleep through the night, downstairs, with no problem. Over the past 2 years she has started waking in the night, barking for us. It has gradually increased and now it is very rare for her to sleep through. I have shut her in the utility room for the past few nights, as we cannot hear her bark from there. After initially barking for a while she seems to settle. I'm worried though that we might be putting her under too much stress.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
466 Dog owners recommended

Hello Christine, I suggest speaking with your vet. As dogs age they might loose their ability to hold their bladders through the night. She could also be loosing hearing or eye sight which might make her more unsure. Dogs can also experience mental decline and confusion which can increase anxiety. If there is a medical cause see if it's something that can be improved with your vet's help. If she needs to go potty more often, she might need to be taken out earlier in the morning or to wear a doggie diaper at night. If the barking is simply behavioral for attention and not due to a medical cause, she should adjust to the laundry room, but you can also help her by sprinkling treats on her bed in there during the daytime to encourage her to spend time in there by choice, and give her a safe chew toy in there for boredom. Additionally, you can use an audio baby monitor to find out how long it takes her to become quiet, but for training to work you would need to ignore the barking and let her learn to relax in there, but it could help you have an idea or the level of stress and how many nights it takes her to settle down faster. If there is not an underlying medical cause and she has what she needs in the room like a bed, then I suggest trying it for five days to see if she learns to settle down quickly by the end of the week. That scenario would be short term stress but better long term sleep and sleep is important for health also, opposed to stress that continued for over a month and is more concerning. I am not a vet though, so I suggest speaking with your vet first. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Tojo
American bully
7 Months
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Tojo
American bully
7 Months

I want to start reintroducing a new bed and area for my dog to sleep in. It will be down stairs in the dining area, but he chews on everything. How do I trust giving him an open area to sleep when he chews on everything on down to the couch cushions and pillows?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
466 Dog owners recommended

Hello Chye, At his age he cannot be left unconfined without supervision. It is natural for a dog his age to chew and his jaws are actually developing right now - increasing his need to chew. Place a crate in the room that you want him to sleep in, crate train him and have him sleep in there. A crate is good for teaching dogs to chew on their own chew toys - preparing them for freedom later. It's good for teaching independence, self-sooth, and self-entertaining - which can felt prevent separation anxiety. It keeps a young dog from swallowing something dangerous that could kill them or require expensive surgery to remove. It makes traveling with the dog later easier. Gives you a place they can feel safe after injury, surgery, or while in a new location. Check out the article linked below and follow the "Surprise" method to introduce the crate, or work on all three methods. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Having him sleep in a separate room than you is a good thing to work on for the sake of traveling and better sleep if you desire that, he just needs to be crated in that room to keep him and your belongings safe until he is past all the major chewing phases around 1-2 years of age for most dogs. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Callan
German shepherd/Rottweiler mix
6 Months
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Question
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Callan
German shepherd/Rottweiler mix
6 Months

Call an is a rescue puppy. We got here m at 9 weeks. We crate trained from the beginning. We purchased 2 crates: 1 full size (42in) that we put a barrier in given his small size and a 30 in for our bedroom. He has gone from 14.6 at age 9 weeks to 53 lbs at age 6 months. So his crate in the family room (42in) is great for him, no barrier any more. But the bedroom crate is now too small. I want to shift a dresser to get a larger crate for the bedroom, but Hubby wants to get a drink g bed instead. Callan is a great puppy and is doing very well with his obedience training. Fully house trained from about 11 weeks. My concern is that he will not stay on a dog bed and will get into things while we are asleep. He knows the routine at night so well and goes right to sleep in his crate... But with no walls... It could be Mardi Gras for him. Should we just get a bigger crate and deal with hubby? Or test the waters with a nghttime bed?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
466 Dog owners recommended

Hello Linda, Between 6-8 months of age puppies go through a phase where their jaws develop and there can be a second chewing phase. This phase can actually be more destructive because they now have the jaw strength to actually chew through things - and swallow the pieces. This is a dangerous age to leave a dog unsupervised. Your guy might be fine if he's a light chewer but it's not worth risking yet. Also, he may not chew now but if he gets bored one night and gets into something, not only is that dangerous but then he also learned to chew something she shouldn't have and will think that is an option again for a while - creating a bad behavior that you previously didn't have to deal with. I generally wait until people get past 1 year of age with their pups before I recommend testing out more freedom from the crate. Generally at least 1 year of age and at least three months without chewing something they shouldn't chew as a general rule of when to test things out. When testing whether they are ready I also suggest leaving them alone for only ten minutes and seeing how they did during that time. If they do well, then I gradually increase that time, until they can handle 3 hours, at which point they are probably ready for more freedom. Callan could end up being a light chewer but it's not worth the risk in my opinion because you won't know until he gets into something. I suggest either getting a bigger crate for the bedroom or transitioning him into sleeping in the den in the bigger crate that you already have. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Blaze
Bichon Frise
6 Months
2 found helpful
Question
2 found helpful
Blaze
Bichon Frise
6 Months

When we first got our pup, he cried incessantly downstairs at night. So we brought him to our room when he slept in a bed in his crate beside us for a couple of months. During this time we tried to get him to sleep downstairs but the crying would not stop. Lately he has been whining in the crate in our room, so I made the mistake of bringing him to our bed. I was exhausted. Now he refuses to go into the crate and if he doesn't come into the bed he will sleep on the floor even with his bed outside of the crate. Can't deal with this anymore. I would love for him to sleep downstairs but I love him so much and don't know if I'll be able to cope with how upset he will be...

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
466 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sharon, Crate issues often begin with the puppy simply not knowing how to calm himself and entertain himself in the crate, so he cries. When you give him the time and space to learn, he realizes that he is alright in there and learns to occupy himself by chewing a food stuffed chew toy (if you give one hopefully) or to sleep. When a puppy gets older or experiences being let out of the crate when he cries, he can start to get pushy about it. This is no longer an insecurity issue but a pushiness issue too. 6 months is puppy adolescence - meaning you basically have the equivalent of a dog teenager, which is probably why the whining started, unless something particularly traumatic happened. During this time he needed you to stay firm with the rules - but when we are tired that can be very hard! To improve things now he will probably need a bit of firmness. That can be hard but him learning to be calm in there is important for everyone's health - including his. It's also important because it impacts your relationship with him and his respect for you. Dogs that don't have a good, healthy respect for owners have more behavior issues and are more anxious, and many are eventually given up due to these issues. Check out the article linked below and use the method from that video to teach him to enter and leave the crate respectfully - this can help with calmness and respect. Use a leash for getting him into the crate. He doesn't have to like it, but he does have to do it. This should get easier as you practice and he realizes that you are consistent. Also, teach the Quiet command during the day by following the Quiet method from the article linked below. Crate entrance and exits: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Quiet method for barking: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Once he knows what Quiet means, put his crate downstairs and practice crate entrances and exits during the day. Also practice the "Surprise" method from the article linked below - rewarding him when he stays quiet for a certain amount of time. Finally, discipline the barking. To discipline the barking, when he barks, go to him and tell him "Quiet", then leave again. If he stays quiet for a few minutes, return and sprinkle treats into the crate before leaving again. If he continues to bark or stops but starts barking right away again, use a Pet Convincer - which is a small canister of pressurized air. Return to him, tell him "Ah Ah" calmly, and spray a small puff of air at his side through the crate (avoid spraying his face and hold the can further away from him if he is pretty sensitive - you just want to surprise him enough for him to get quiet). Once you have sprayed the air, leave again. If he stays quiet, then you can return and reward him. Practice with the rewards and the air sprays during the day for 30-60 minutes each time at first. At night, do not give treats though, either ignore the barking or use the Pet Convincer, but no food then or he may have to go potty or may stay awake hoping for food. Practice during the day so that he will be ready to stay calm at night and understand the lesson better. Only use unscented, normal air for this, and not the citronella ones - citronella is too harsh. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Shiloh
Labradoodle
3 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Shiloh
Labradoodle
3 Years

We've trained our dog to sleep in his pen at night. He usually does well. But we want to get rid of his pen and just train him to sleep on his bed. If we leave his pen open at night when we go to bed, he whined and barks at our bedroom door and doesn't stop until we let him in to the bedroom. We want to be able to leave him out in the main room at night without this reaction. He's very clingy due to medication that he needs to take. How do we train him to sleep at night without barking and whining at our door?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
466 Dog owners recommended

Hello Andrea, I suggest making the switch gradually. First, check out the video below and practice that protocol to teach calmness in the crate even while the door is open. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mn5HTiryZN8 Second, create an area that is larger than his crate but still keeps him confined near his crate. You can use baby gates to block off areas to make a small 'den' for him with his crate inside the den area, or you can use a larger exercise pen with his crate inside the pen. Have him sleep in that area with the crate door open to get him used to sleeping outside of the crate or in the open crate by choice. If he barks or whines, you need to be willing to endure a few hard nights and ignore him. It may be best to start this at the beginning of a couple of days off. Generally most dogs will improve by three nights. He may surprise you and do well right away but be prepared to ignore him if not. Every time you go to him or let him into the bedroom when he cries he learns to just do that behavior the next night even worse. If you leave him alone or discipline the behavior it will likely end in a couple of nights. When he can handle being out of the crate in the blocked off area, do that for at least a month, then you can remove that confinement too but put a baby gate or something similar against your door at night to keep him from being able to scratch your door, then put him in the crate with the door open and go to bed. He may do fine right away or he may cry at your door for a couple of nights. Again, if he cries at your door either ignore him or you can use a small canister of unscented pressured air called a pet convincer to squirt a puff of air at his side if he doesn't give up. When you do this, tell him "Ah Ah", quickly open your door, squirt the air at his side (not face), then close the door again and go back to ignoring him. He should get as little attention as possible for this. You can also practice leaving him outside of the bedroom door during the day too, doing the same things you do at night, but giving him a food stuffed Kong in his open crate as well to reward him for being quiet (it's hard to chew and bark at the same time so the Kong automatically rewards quietness in general) - only give food during the day though so he won't have to go potty at night and won't stay up chewing. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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