Our Rodrigo on his Pet Dreams Ortho Bliss Memory Foam Dog Bed! He loves it! Blue loves it more
Guest post by Stephen Burroughs…
There are a lot of articles on the internet about dog bed training, but most of them are exactly the same. I do want to talk to you about dog beds, why they’re a great idea and how to get your dog to enjoy sleeping in one, but I don’t want to regurgitate the same tired article that’s grown like a weed around the web. Instead, I’m going to share the experience of training my Miniature Pinscher, Herschel, to use the little doggy bed he now calls home. It was a pretty easy process in the end, and now he has a designated sleeping area that he’s in love with. It also keeps him well rested and gives him a good place to spend some alone time when he needs it.
This article isn’t actually a ‘boot camp’ type of thing—that would be way too harsh. After all, we’re just preparing your dog to sleep in his own bed, not preparing him for a combat zone! This article should, with any luck, prepare you for the short and easily winnable battle of training your furry friend to sleep in a dog bed.
1. When, why and what?
I didn’t get Herschel when he was a puppy. He was already two years old when I got him and he had never used a dog bed in his life. He loved to sleep on my bed, which was okay at first since he doesn’t take up much space—but sometimes he’d track mud in my bed and otherwise make a mess. He’s also a fussy sleeper, which doesn’t help me at all because I’m a fussy sleeper too.
Soon it became obvious that it was time to buy him his own bed. It just really seemed apparent to me that both of us would benefit if he had a designated sleeping area. I wasn’t too hasty with my dog bed decision, and it actually took me about a week to pick one out.
In the end I got him an oblong memory foam bed with raised edges because he likes to curl up when he sleeps, and he also gets cold pretty easily. The memory foam helps him to stay warm, and the additional blanket I leave with him makes sure he’s always okay. But surprise, surprise—Herschel did not immediately take to the dog bed. The next three sections will tell you what we went through in our quest.
2. The Smell Test
My mom is a dog groomer and occasional dog show-goer, so I asked her for some advice on the matter. She told me that the actual scent of the bed was pretty important, which made perfect sense. Herschel is always sniffing around at everything (the second a pizza box enters the house his nose starts working overtime even though he never gets any pizza) so I was sort of ashamed that it didn’t dawn on me earlier, but common sense evades me sometimes when I’m thinking of the little guy.
I rubbed my hands around the edges of the bed and decided to have a little bit of fun—I rolled around on it a few times myself! Once the bed sufficiently smelled like me, I was ready to move on to step three. (I want to note here that most experts seem to recommend making sure your entire family’s scent is on the dog bed. I live alone so it’s not a factor for me, but you should know.)
3. Outright Bribery
At this point Herschel still wasn’t very interested in his bed. He seemed to enjoy sniffing it for a few minutes, but beyond that it didn’t seem to strike his fancy. I took his favorite toy (an old tennis ball that he can’t live without), his leash (another thing he loves having around) and his blanket and I placed them on the bed. He actually hopped up on the bed and sat there for a few minutes before jumping off. I rewarded him with a little treat and a walking tour of his favorite neighborhood sniff-spots. He was getting there, but he still just wasn’t ready for bed.
4. Practice Makes Perfect
At least twice a day I’d lead Herschel over to the bed with the tennis ball and his leash to repeat the motion and to get the idea into his head. As he’d sit on the bed, I’d praise and reward him. It also gave me an excuse to give him an extra doggy treat, which is something I love doing but reserve for the times when Herschel actually does something I approve of. Looking cute doesn’t count.
I also made sure to use the word “bed” when referring to his new sleeping spot. I want to note here that you should never discipline your dog for not sleeping in his bed—he’ll do it when he’s ready. For Herschel it took about two weeks, which I understand is a long time compared to most dogs. He’s stubborn and resistant to change, just like his owner is, after all. The day finally came where he curled up and made himself comfortable. I parked down on the floor with him and took a ten minute power nap. By that time, he was asleep. I didn’t need to convince him to sleep in his bed at the end of the night—he’d found his new den.
This is just my personal story. I’ve read that a lot of people need to spend more time actually laying down on the ground near the bed, but that didn’t seem to be much of an issue for Herschel. My dog took a little longer than some because he wasn’t trained as a puppy, but he learned it all the same. He understands the word “bed” and loved sleeping there.
While the basics of bed training are the same, every dog is different. Don’t get frustrated and don’t discipline your dog during bed training—when he figures it out, he’ll be sleeping soundly in his own personal space for the rest of his life.
Stephen Burroughs is a writer, blogger and Humane Society volunteer. He enjoys blogging about everything pertaining to dogs and responsible pet ownership. Stephen writes for All-Dog-Beds, a site that specializes in dog beds of all shapes and sizes.
For those of you who are more crafty than I am, here’s a video tutorial sharing how to make your own comfy dog bed…