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Train a Dog to Sleep in a Dog Bed

In a recent article we talked about selecting the right type of dog bed for your dog.  There are many different types out there, and part of getting your dog to sleep in her new bed is choosing one which will suit her.  Let’s say you have done that though, and your dog still doesn’t want to sleep in the new bed you have purchased.  How do you teach a dog to sleep in a dog bed when your pet is already used to sleeping on furniture or the floor?

Remember that dogs are creatures of habit, and if your dog is used to sleeping in a particular spot, he is going to be territorial about it.  If you have nothing against your dog continuing to sleep in that vicinity, there is no reason to put the dog bed somewhere else.  Put it in the familiar location.  If you do need to place it somewhere else, think about what you can do to make the new area friendlier.  Are you moving the dog out of your own room to another?  Put some of your own things around the bed so your pet can smell your scent.  Your dog will get less lonely and will know that you are nearby.

Another tactic is to put some of your dog’s toys in or near the bed along with your own things.  That helps your dog to catch her own familiar scent in the bed, which will make it feel safer.  The toys may additionally help by giving your dog a way to burn off some excess energy before bedtime.  Feeling tired from play time, your dog may be quite content to just go to sleep right there.  Just be sure that your pet doesn’t get overstimulated and end up too hyper to go to sleep.

You can also train your dog to accept the new bed by using positive reinforcement.  You need to get your pet to associate the bed with positive emotions.  When the bed is brand new, don’t expect your dog to take to it right away.  Try petting him whenever he touches the bed.  Once he is used to the new object, try rewarding him for lying down on the bed with a treat or more petting.  You could also try putting a treat in the bed, which will coax your dog into the bed in the first place.  The treat will add its scent to the bed too, which will make the bed an even friendlier place to be.

If you haven’t already read up on different types of dog beds or purchased the perfect type of bed for your dog, it is best to do that first.  Don’t be surprised if you have to try several different types of beds before you find one which your dog likes.  Many pet owners end up with a number of beds.  Some of them are better during some seasons than others too.  A dog may love a heated bed in the winter, but loathe it in the summer and prefer a simple mat or pad.

Choosing the right size dog bed is also important.  Measure your dog and also think about how he positions himself when he sleeps.  Does he curl up or stretch out?  A bed that is slightly too large is usually a better one than a bed that is slightly too small.  You will find it much easier to train your dog to sleep in a new bed if the bed is comfortable.

Acclimatizing your dog to her new bed is going to take some time, and it may be frustrating, but hang in there and keep trying.  These things don’t happen overnight, especially if your pet is already in the habit of sleeping somewhere else.  Do what you can to make the transition as easy and comfortable as possible, and you will get the best and fastest results.  

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