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.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Mikaya
Min-pin mix
12 Years
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Question
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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
707 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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Question
Fletcher
Labradoodle
18 Months
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Question
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Fletcher
Labradoodle
18 Months

Fletcher has been crate trained at night in the mudroom since she came to us at 9 weeks. She doesn’t sleep there during the day (unless I’m gone and that’s fine by us) and she doesn’t fight going there at night. During the day she sleeps wherever I am. This past few weeks, she has started barking in the middle of the night... about 3 nights a week. I’ve taken her outside and she doesn’t pee. She’ll just drink some water (probably dry from barking!) and with encouragement go back to her crate. I’ve tried ignoring it and although that has worked a few times, I normally end up feeling bad and taking her out just in case she has to go (and a few times she has but not normally). Any suggestions to get her thru the night? -Deb

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
132 Dog owners recommended

Hi there. Dogs quickly fall into habits and it sounds like she is getting accustomed to waking up and being somewhat active. By this age, she shouldn't have to go to the bathroom, and doesn't NEED food or water. So try your best to not feel bad! You may have to go back to completely ignoring her barks to get her back in the habit of sleeping through the night.

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Question
Lucky
Papillon/Pomeranian
11 Years
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Question
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Lucky
Papillon/Pomeranian
11 Years

We adopted him recently and until now he was sleeping in the basement next to me. Yesterday he work up at 3 in the morning and started barking and wanted to go out for a walk. Thinking he wanted to pee I opened the back door but he did not want to go. He wanted to sleep next to me and share my bed but I did not allow that. He continued to bark and jumped onto my bed 2 times. I ignored him while he barked. He went upstairs and barked outside the door where my husband slept. He lag down there but continued to bark and make growling noises. He then moved downstairs and slept on the couch next to my mother in law. By this time it was almost 7:30 am and he seemed fine.
This was a very bizarre behaviour and we are wondering if I should move his bed to upstairs where he cannot jump onto the bed. Please advice

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
92 Dog owners recommended

Hello, the behavior that Lucky is displaying could be due to the fact that he is just settling in and is a bit anxious. Next time he wakes in the night, if you think he needs to pee, put him on his leash, take him out, no talking, just a quick pee, no treat, and straight back to bed afterward. If you move Lucky upstairs, will he be alone? This may not solve the issue - he could feel more anxious with another change. How about setting up an exercise pen in your room? Then, he is with you but cannot jump on the bed. You'll have to ignore the barking but I think after a few nights, he will settle down. Make his exercise pen a welcoming spot with a comfy bed. Leave it accessible during the day, and occasionally when he is not aware, place treats in the bed for him to find. That will have him going in there on his own, and associating the bed with good things. Here is an article on setting up the space: https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/how-to-set-up-puppy-long-term-confinement-area (minus the litter box, of course). Good luck and enjoy your new dog!

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Question
Willow
Boxer
6 Months
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Willow
Boxer
6 Months

My husband started letting Willow fall asleep on our bed and then when she’s asleep he puts her in her crate. This has been challenging because when you go to pick her up she tries to bite you (which is understandable). I tried to just put her in her crate, but she barked and barked. Help!!!

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
92 Dog owners recommended

Hello, for certain Willow wants to sleep with you and not in the crate. You will have to go back to crate training her as you did in the beginning. Take a look here to try and get Willow to like the crate again:https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate. All of the methods are good. If you try a method like the Surprise Method, Willow will soon head to the crate on her own. As well, the Slow Build Method here may help: https://wagwalking.com/training/sleep-in-crate. You can also try an exercise pen instead of the crate as described here: https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/how-to-set-up-puppy-long-term-confinement-area. Either way, you may have to put up with some crying and barking at night, without giving in. Good luck!

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Question
Crystal
American Pit Bull Terrier
3 Years
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Question
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Crystal
American Pit Bull Terrier
3 Years

Get her to sleep on her bed and keep her off the couch

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
92 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I would work on making her bed an appealing place. I assume the bed is in the living room near the couch and that is why Crystal switches to the comfy couch. First, to make the couch inaccessible at night, place a few laundry baskets on the cushions so she cannot get up there. Also, take a look here for keeping her off there during the day: https://wagwalking.com/training/stay-off-the-couch-unless-invited. Teach Crystal the Off command for whenever she is on the couch. Firmly say off, and make her get down. Now, back to making the bed a place she wants to be. During the day, occasionally place treats there when Crystal is not aware. You can show her the first time or two, but after that, let her find them on her own. Place them there when she is not looking so that she associates the bed with good surprises. She'll soon start to head to the bed to look for goodies. At the same time, work on a command that she can learn - like "bed" or "nap." Lead Crystal there a few times a day, using the "bed" command. Tell her "stay" once she is lying down and praise her with a treat and verbally. Work on this every day. At night, you may have to bring her back there a few times, but if the couch is blocked, it may not be an issue. You can always opt for an exercise pen area at night with her bed in there. It provides Crystal with lots of room but keeps her confined. There are excellent tips here as well: https://wagwalking.com/training/sleep-in-a-dog-bed. Good luck!

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