When you first by your puppy home, it might have seemed like a good idea to let him sleep next to you. You’re not alone, since nearly 56 percent of all dog owners sleep with their dog on the bed. Small and cuddly, he didn’t take up much room and probably didn’t whine often with you nearby. However, once you’re fighting for bed space with claws and teeth, it might not be so fun. Don’t worry, you can train your puppy to sleep in a dog bed, but it might take some time and effort.
1. Make Your Dog Comfortable
Since you’re not going to sleep with your pup, you might as well offer him a comfortable alternative. Dog beds come in many designs. While your dog can’t tell you what he likes, just make sure it has plenty of padding and is big enough to encapsulate all of him. Would you like to sleep with your head and feet hanging off the bed? Neither does your pet (okay, we know a few who might, but still, it should be big enough).
2. Time It Right
Everyone’s cranky a bedtime, including your dog. Start training during the day when everyone’s fresh and ready to pay attention.
3. Get Your Treats and Leash Ready
It’s best to start with a leash to give you better control in case your dog doesn’t want to obey. Set up the dog bed in your living room. With treats in hand, take your dog to the bed and say, “go to bed” or whatever phrase you want to use then make him lie down. Don’t be stingy with the treats. If he obeys, reward him right away. Of course, if he’s tugging on the leash or refusing to lie down, you’ll need to start again.
4. Make Him Stay
Make him stay on the bed for a few seconds before allowing him up. The next time you give the command, make him stay on the bed longer. If he tries to get up say, “no.” Incrementally increase the time you make him stay on the dog bed. (Don’t forget the treats! Keep them coming for everything your dog does right.)
5. Move It to the Bedroom
After successfully training in the living room, it’s time to move it to the bedroom. Try to remove any distractions like your cat, slippers, or anything else your pup likes to play with. If your dog has already been sleeping in your bed, this is where you might run into some challenges. Just like before, use a leash to take your dog to the dog bed and have him lay down. Reward him as soon as he obeys. Once he’s gotten used to the routine, try it without the leash. (This is the part where you hold your breath.)
6. Be Consistent
At this point, everyone in the household needs to be on the same page. Dogs live in the moment. Imagine how confusing it can be if your partner invites the dog back on the bed when you’re not at home. On, off, on, off – it’s enough to make anyone’s head spin, especially a puppy. Everyone needs to be onboard and aware of the correct commands to help your pup succeed.
7. Correction Time
For those of you with a persistent pup, you’ve got our sympathies. Some animals know what they want and won’t give up until they get it. If your pup resists the dog bed, a squirt of water to the face when he gets on your bed might do the trick. If only you could correct everyone’s behavior with a squirt to the face, life would be a lot easier.
Alas, it works with dogs but not people.
Bio: Amy Highland is a sleep expert at SleepHelp.org. Her preferred research topics are health and wellness, so Amy's a regular reader of Scientific American and Nature. She loves taking naps during thunderstorms and cuddling up with a blanket, book, and cats.