At first, it’s adorable: your dog has jumped up on the bed with you, snuggling in close for a good night’s sleep.
After a while, though, there’s just not enough room on the bed for both of you, there’s dog hair everywhere, and at least one of you snores. Finally, you’ve had enough and decide that Fido can no longer get on the bed.
That’s great — but how do you enforce it?
If you’re having trouble keeping your dog off your bed, the tips below should help you teach your dog to sleep in their own bed — or at least somewhere other than your pillow.
1. Never Let Them On the Bed in the First Place
This is one area in which an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The fact is, it’s much easier to never let your dog on the bed in the first place than it is to stop them once they’ve grown accustomed to sleeping next to you.
It’s difficult for your dog to understand that a behavior that was okay yesterday is no longer acceptable today. As a result, you’ll have a much longer learning curve.
Also, many dogs will feel like this creates a hole in their routine — one they’ll try to fill with other activities. There’s no guarantee that you’ll like what those activities are, which brings us to our next point.
2. Give Them Something Else to Do
Having their own spot to sleep is absolutely essential. We recommend a crate for this, but it can be anywhere, so long as it’s comfortable and you’re consistent about putting them there.
You can make their new nap spot more enticing by giving them special toys that they only get at bedtime; something like a peanut butter-filled KONG toy is excellent for this, as it is a high-value treat that will occupy them for a long time.
If your dog doesn’t already have a super-comfy dog bed, now’s the time to get them one. You may want to stash a worn piece of clothing on the new bed so it smells like you for the first few days.
3. Keep Them Close
Your bed’s appeal has little to do with your expensive luxury mattress or your Egyptian cotton sheets. No, your dog wants to be in your bed because it keeps them close to you.
Just because your pup isn’t allowed to co-sleep anymore doesn’t mean you should deprive them of your presence. Try to keep them as close to you as possible. This may mean putting the crate next to your nightstand or setting up a pillow at the foot of the bed.
If your dog knows that you’re close by, they’ll find it reassuring — and that will help them drift off to dreamland.
4. Teach the “Off” Command
If your plan for getting your pup off the covers involves shoving and pleading, then you’re going to have a hard time.
Instead, you should teach your dog the “off” command. Lure your dog onto the bed with a treat and tell them, “On.” When they hop up, don’t give them the treat; instead, lure them back down with the “off” command.
Once they hop off the bed, give them the treat and praise and love. This not only teaches them to scram at your command, but it also shows them that being on the floor is much more rewarding than being on the comforter.
5. Keep the Entire Bedroom Off-Limits When You’re Not Around
Your dog wouldn’t want us to tell you this, but the truth is that they’re sneaky animals. They may learn that they’re not allowed on the bed when you’re around — and they’ll decide that means that it’s okay for them to climb up when you’re gone.
To prevent this from happening, you should keep the entire bedroom area off-limits, at least until you’re confident that your mutt has learned their lesson. Keep the door closed when you’re not home so your pup isn’t tempted to break the rules this one time.
Another option is to set up a pet camera that allows you to talk to your pooch. If you see them on the bed, you can give them the “off” command, and some even allow you to dispense treats when your command is followed.
Of course, many dogs will quickly learn that since you’re not actually there to enforce your orders, they don’t have to listen to your disembodied voice. Then you may just be setting yourself up for the frustration of watching your disobedient dog drool on your pillow.
6. Don’t Give Them Any Positive Interaction If You Catch Them on the Bed
As tempting as it is to give them a few belly scratches before you kick them off, it’s important to never reward your dog for being on your bed.
If you catch them up there, give them the “off” command and don’t give them any praise, treats, or positive attention until they hop down. You can lavish them with love once they’re on the floor; show them that life is much more fun down there.
7. Ignore Whining or Other Attention-Seeking Behaviors
For the first few nights, your dog may guilt trip you from their new spot on the floor. Whining, barking, and grumbling are all common.
It’s important not to give them any attention when they do this. Even yelling or scolding them is giving them the reward of your attention, so neither strategy is likely to make the noise stop.
Instead, stay quiet and ignore them. The attention-seeking will eventually stop, but be forewarned that it will likely get worse before it stops completely.
8. Tucker Them Out Before Bed
It’s a good idea to give your dog a long walk or a vigorous play session right before bed. You want to leave them so exhausted that they immediately collapse on their new bed and curl up to sleep, rather than spending a ton of energy fighting you for their old spot.
Once you’re done playing, lead your dog to their bed and give them a treat. This connects several good things — playtime, attention, and treats — to their new spot, encouraging them to return.
Another reason to take your dog for a walk right before bedtime is so you’ll know that any whining they do isn’t because they need to go outside for a potty break, allowing you to confidently ignore it.
9. Most Importantly, Be Consistent
None of these strategies will work if you don’t do them consistently.
If you decide you’ll let your dog sleep up on the bed every now and then, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Your dog will never be able to tell which times are acceptable and which aren’t, so you’ll have an endless cycle of them jumping up and getting scolded, leaving them confused and resentful.
After a few days of reinforcing the idea that they’re not allowed on the bed, your dog will grasp the idea and stop trying. It’s not easy, especially when they hit you with those puppy dog eyes, but staying consistent is the key to success here.
If you follow the strategies laid out in this guide, you should have your bed all to yourself in just a few days. Even better, all these tips rely on positive reinforcement, so your dog should be as happy about the situation as you are.
Featured image credit: Burst, Pexels
- 1. Never Let Them On the Bed in the First Place
- 2. Give Them Something Else to Do
- 3. Keep Them Close
- 4. Teach the “Off” Command
- 5. Keep the Entire Bedroom Off-Limits When You’re Not Around
- 6. Don’t Give Them Any Positive Interaction If You Catch Them on the Bed
- 7. Ignore Whining or Other Attention-Seeking Behaviors
- 8. Tucker Them Out Before Bed
- 9. Most Importantly, Be Consistent
- Sweet Dreams