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Training your dog to use a dog bed

Training your dog to use a dog bed

As long as you begin properly, and remain consistent with your efforts to have your dog sleep in his or her bed, training your dog to use a dog bed can be a relatively easy task, which your dog will remember throughout his or her entire life.

The best time to begin training your dog to use a dog bed is while he or she is still a puppy. This will make certain that the training is done as quickly as possible, and sticks all the way until he or she grows older. But don’t get discouraged if your dog isn’t a puppy anymore. The techniques you’re about to read work just as well for older dogs as they do for puppies.

To begin with, you’ll want to understand why your dog would want to sleep in his or her bed. Well, luckily for you, there is a natural dog instinct that you can work with to help make things easier: the natural denning instinct. Training results are guaranteed to be faster when you’re working with your dog’s natural instincts than if you’re working against them. As well as instincts, you’ll need to know:

  • Location
  • Condition
  • Communicating with your dog
  • Bedtime

In nature, wild dogs seek out places to sleep that are safe, warm, and dry. They automatically keep these areas clean, and never use such a location for “bathroom” related activities. By understanding these instincts, and that domestic dogs have these same instincts inside of them, you’ll have a much better time in the process of training your dog to use a dog bed.

Just like your dog’s wild relatives would enjoy, make sure the dog bed is kept in a place that is safe, warm, and dry. Put it out of the way of high-traffic areas where there’s lots of noise, and regular interruptions. Also, keep the dog bed away from drafts, and areas of direct airflow from your home’s heating and cooling vents. It’s alright if you wan to keep the dog bed in the same area that he or she eats, as long as that place meets the aforementioned conditions.

The bed itself will need to be conditioned to make it the most attractive to your pooch. Remember that the most important sense to your dog is his or her smell. Use this to your advantage by putting your scent on the bed before your dog uses it for the first time. To do this, all you need to do is take the cover off the dog bed, and rub it against your skin. If you just had a shower, you might want to wait a while, as your dog will react more to your “natural” scent than the smell of soaps or lotions. Allow other family members to do the same, if possible. The more the dog recognizes that the dog bed “belongs,” the better.

Once the dog bed has been well conditioned, place a few of your dog’s toys on the bed, and call your dog to the bed, allowing him or her to “check it out” by sniffing around. Pat your hand on the dog bed to see if he or she will hop up into it. If s/he won’t hop up of his or her own volition, place him or her on it gently. S/he doesn’t have to lie down on it yet; this is simply an effort to get him or her used to the bed, and add his or her own scent.

When your dog is in the bed, make sure to praise him or her, and give him or her a good scratch or rub. Your goal is to let your dog associate the dog bed with pleasure, happiness, comfort, and love.

As you continue with this praise, have him or her lie down. Continue your praise to assuage any fears s/he may be feeling. You may wish to lie down on the floor next to the bed, as you continually praise your dog. After a few minutes, gradually leave. Your dog may stay, but then again, s/he may follow you. Either way, you’re both doing just fine.

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At “bedtime” – that is, when your dog appears ready to settle in for the night, not an actual time on the clock – call your dog to the dog bed, and repeat all of your earlier steps. Be certain that favorite toys or blankets are present in the bed. Lie down on the floor next to him or her, preferably until s/he falls asleep. If s/he refuses to sleep in the bed at first, this is alright; do not discipline him or her. Simply repeat the training every day until s/he gets used to it. It may take a week, or maybe a bit more, but soon enough s/he will be thinking of the comfy dog bed, as a warm, cozy, and safe den.

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