When deciding where your dog should sleep, you may wonder if your bed is better than the couch, or if her bed is better than her crate. It’s really up to you. But once you’ve chosen where you’d like your best friend to “go to bed,” how do you get her on board with the new sleeping arrangement? It’s not always easy or straightforward—but it is possible.
Learn how to get your dog to sleep in her bed (or wherever you prefer), and learn the answers to frequently asked questions about where dogs catch their best Zzzs.
How to Get Your Dog to Sleep in Her Bed
Assuming you’ve decided her own bed is where your dog should sleep—whether she is a puppy, an adult rescue, or an older dog who needs a specialty dog bed that supports her aging joints—these are the key steps to convince her to sleep there:
Step 1: Decide on the New Sleep Rules
Decide whether your dog will be allowed on your bed or furniture at all, or whether you prefer her to sleep in her dog bed exclusively. Be consistent to avoid confusion. If she’ll no longer be allowed on your furniture, get her accustomed to staying down, and make no exceptions.
Start your training during the day rather than at bedtime. Expecting her to sleep in her new bed the very first night is not realistic, especially if she has been allowed to sleep in your bed.
Step 2: Create an Inviting ‘Sleep Zone’ for Your Dog
Choose the perfect dog bed based on your dog’s needs. Older dogs can benefit from orthopedic beds that support their joints. A bed with a bolster is suitable for dogs who like sleeping with their heads elevated.
Place the bed where you would like your dog to sleep, whether it’s on the floor in your room, or the living room or great room. Choose a room where she’s already comfortable spending a lot of time throughout the day. Take care to choose a spot that isn’t drafty.
Next, rub your hands over the dog bed so it carries your scent, and lay her favorite blanket or dog toys on the bed. Also, leave a few treats on the bed for her to find on her own.
Step 3: Introduce Your Dog to Her Bed
Introduce the dog bed gradually, and keep your energy positive but relaxed throughout the process. Allow your dog to explore the new bed in her own time; give her a treat and praise her when she looks at, sniffs, or sits in her new bed. Dogs will repeat a behavior if they receive a treat or encouragement, and they’re less likely to repeat it without a reward. Shower her with praise if she decides to get into the bed on her own. If she is wary, don’t push the matter. After the introduction, take a break to do something else before starting the next step.
Step 4: Select a “Go-to-Bed” Command
This command may well be “Go to bed!” Or, it could be “Place” or “Bed.” Whatever phrase you choose, use it consistently.
Through the training process, keep a baggy of her favorite dog treats in your pocket. To begin, lead your dog to her bed with a treat and place it on her bed, saying “go to bed,” or your chosen command. If she climbs into the bed to get the treat, praise her effusively and even give her a second treat. Allow her to get up and move if she likes; you are establishing positive associations with her bed.
Repeat this step at several points throughout the day and evening until your dog connects “go to bed” with the new dog bed. Gradually move farther from the bed when you give the “go to bed” command until she goes to her bed from across the house. As she shows progress, incrementally replace the treat with praise only.
Always watch for moments when she sits or lies down on her bed independently, and then immediately praise her for a job well done and offer her a treat.
Step 5: Get Your Dog to Lie Down on Her Bed
Often this part will take care of itself during the above step, or even minutes after you introduce your dog to her bed. But some dogs need a bit more coaxing. When your dog goes to her bed easily, add your “down-stay” command, which she should know by now. (If not, teach your dog or puppy to “stay” and hold off on the dog bed training for a little while.)
Using your preferred command, encourage her to lie down on her bed and stay in place until you release her. Pairing this action with a ringing doorbell or a knock at the door can also minimize unwanted behaviors such as barking and jumping on guests. You can phase out the request to lie down—she will eventually begin to lie down on her own when you’ve asked her to go to bed.
Practice with the dog bed in different areas of your home to get her used to looking for the bed, rather than going where the bed is located. This may be helpful if your dog travels with you or you would like her to use a bed in more than one room of the house.
Step 6: Stay Upbeat and Repeat
Learning to use a dog bed should be a positive experience. Never scold or punish your dog for avoiding her bed. If she won’t cooperate, take a break and try again later. Stagger short training sessions throughout the day, rather than training all at once. When kept brief, training doesn’t feel so challenging for you, and frustration isn’t as likely for you or your dog.
Training your dog to use her bed may take anywhere from a few hours to a few days, or possibly longer. And, as with any dog training, be consistent and offer plenty of encouragement and praise.
Finally, never use your dog’s bed for punishment. Her bed should be considered a comfortable, safe, and relaxing place to rest and sleep.
Now that you know how to train your dog to sleep in her bed, let’s explore questions about ideal—and less than ideal—canine sleeping arrangements. (Hint: The answers are as unique as you and your best friend.)
Should Your Dog Sleep in Your Bed?
It depends. The answer is whatever is best for you and your dog. Do you have mild pet allergies? Letting your dog sleep in your bed may worsen symptoms. Do you enjoy a sense of security and a better night’s rest when your dog is with you in bed? By all means, invite your dog to sleep in your bed.
Research has found that sleeping with dogs doesn’t negatively impact sleep quality for dogs or their people. But in some instances the practice may disrupt sleep. Possible causes of sleep disruption include:
- You are a light sleeper and your dog moves a lot.
- You (or your dog) is prone to overheating in bed because of the extra body heat.
- Your dog is reactive and startles when you roll on her.
Your dog shouldn’t sleep in your bed when she’s a very young puppy. It’s ideal to train your puppy sleep to sleep in her crate until she’s fully housetrained.
At What Age Should You Let Your Dog Sleep in Your Bed?
Because every dog is different, there is no set age to allow your dog to sleep in your bed. Instead, your puppy should reach specific developmental milestones before you invite her up, including:
- Successfully housetrained
- Responds to obedience commands, including “sit” and “stay”
- Large enough that she won’t get crushed
- Gets up onto the bed only when invited
An older dog may have trouble getting up on your bed. In that case, you can use dog stairs to help her up, or have her sleep on a dog bed nearby.
Why Won’t Your Dog Sleep in Your Bed?
Some dogs simply prefer their own space when sleeping. Your dog may enjoy the security of her dog crate and her favorite toys. Or, she may object to your restlessness in the wee hours. Don’t take it personally—she still adores you!
How to Stop Your Dog From Sleeping in Bed With You
Follow the above steps for training your dog to sleep in her bed, or crate train your dog if you prefer. Closing the crate overnight or putting her bed in the hallway and shutting your bedroom door may be necessary so she doesn’t jump up overnight. Be prepared; it will likely take time and plenty of positive reinforcement for her to learn this lesson.
Should My Dog Sleep in a Crate or Dog Bed?
Whichever works best for you and your dog. If she wanders around at night and wakes the household, a dog crate with a pad is a wise choice. If she is fully housetrained and sleeps the night away, a dog bed next to yours is a good option.
Why Does Your Dog Sleep in Your Other Dog’s Bed?
Your dog’s ancestral instincts are kicking in when she curls up next to her furry brother or sister. Dogs are descended from wolves, pack animals who rely on each other for survival and sleep near each other for warmth and comfort. Your dog is enjoying the comfort of her “pack mate” when she chooses your other dog’s bed over her own. If both dogs are happy with this sleeping arrangement, there’s no need to interfere.
Why Does Your Dog Sleep so Close to (or on Top of) You?
Your dog sleeps close to you for warmth, comfort, and a sense of security. If she rolls on top of you, look up an image of littermates sleeping. They are either squished close together or sleeping on top of each other. Your dog is doing the same. Though sweet, this probably isn’t conducive to a great night’s sleep for you. If your dog isn’t willing to give you some space, training her to sleep in her bed is probably the way to go.
Life with your dog is always evolving, and sleep habits and preferences are no different. Older dogs can become incontinent, adult dogs may suddenly become restless sleepers, or you may feel crowded at night where you once didn’t mind the company. Don’t feel guilty about making changes. A good night’s sleep is too important for your well-being and the health of your furry best friend.