How to get a dog to sleep in its own bed

Is your bed a little overcrowded? Is it a case of ‘two’s company, three’s a crowd’? Or is your four-legged friend hogging the entire duvet? It’s a dilemma that challenges many a dog owner. In a real sea of possibilities, where should your dog sleep? Should it be given carte blanche to sleep wherever it likes and have the run of the house, or should it sleep on its own? The most reliable solution to this dilemma will likely come from a vet. That is why, with the help of Veterinary Medical Expert Maria Grazia Calore, we have tried to uncover to best methods to use to accustom your dog to sleeping in its own bed.

 

The adoption of a puppy: a crucial time

It’s important to have the right approach from the outset when bringing a new puppy home. To best accommodate the newcomer, we have to consider its past experiences and the big life changes in progress: the puppy was just separated from its mum and siblings and finds itself in a new place populated by strangers. To mitigate its totally understandable fear, it is important that the new owners become the puppy’s “secure base”, thus satisfying its search for a new attachment bond and alleviating any upset caused by the maternal separation.

For these reasons, it is not advisable to confine the dog in an isolated room of the house initially but rather to place its bed near to where the owners sleep to prevent it getting anxious. At this stage, the owners must be vigilant not to allow their pet to sleep on the bed if they don’t want it to become a regular occurrence. Only after the puppy feels more secure and confident in their new surroundings should we move the dog’s bed further afield. This last phase occurs at a crucial time in the dog’s life: detachment. In nature, this happens to coincide with weaning and the approach of puberty and is usually forced by adults, while in a domestic context it is down to the owners to designate a specific sleeping area for the dog, which is independent of their own bedrooms.

 

The perfect dog bed

First rule: comfort! Our dog does not need a fully equipped loft, only a medium sized bed considering the fact that most of them sleep curled up. Secondly, we have to consider the material of the dog bed; it should not be dangerous in case of ingestion by the animal. Even the location of the dog bed must be strategically thought out: easily accessible but not too isolated or quiet; nor near the area where they ‘do their business’.

Also important, is the emotional perception our four-legged friend has of its bed. For example, its bed should not be associated with reprimands or unpleasant experiences such as ear cleaning or administering medication – only enjoyable activities, such as chewing bones or receiving loving cuddles and strokes (preferably with the back of the hand to mimic the mother licking the puppy when the animal is quiet).

A really great idea would be to ask the dog’s breeder for a blanket or cover that the dog slept on at their previous home. By placing this item in the dog bed, the puppy will be reassured by the familiar smell and pheromones released. And if the search for a security blanket is not forthcoming, then science can come to our rescue with the use of synthetic pheromones (dog appeasing pheromones), which give the dog bed and sleeping quarters a reassuring smell of ‘home’.