Teaching dog to sleep in his own bed

It is a personal preference whether you allow your dog on the bed or not. But think about reinforcement for a second – sleeping on the bed is comfortable, it smells like his people, he’s close to his people, perhaps he gets cuddles on the bed too. Sleeping in his own bed simply does not have that level of reinforcement! So you’re going to have to change that, but it must be done very gradually. Just throwing him off the bed would be unfair and could cause significant stress.

Get prepared: put his bed right next to yours, within arm reach, and keep some tasty treats in your bedside table (out of reach!). What you’re going to do is direct him to his bed at bed-time, and give him a treat. If he stays in his bed, you’re going to continue giving him a treat about every 30 to 60 seconds until lights out. After that, reach your arm out to him and gently touch him, tell him he’s a good boy!

He’s probably going to get on the bed at some point – that’s fine, leave him. Simply don’t give him any attention when he’s on the bed. No cuddles, no chatting, nothing. But any time you see him in his own bed, a treat will magically appear and he’ll get loads of attention. See what’s happening here? You’re changing the reinforcement from your bed to his bed. You’re making his bed the greatest place to be and your bed kind of boring. Be patient, don’t rush your dog and most importantly be consistent – don’t confuse your dog by giving the odd cuddle on the bed. Cuddles are for his bed only!


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