Training Your Dog to Use a New Dog Bed
Selecting a Location:
In nature, wild dogs seek out places to sleep that are safe, warm, and dry. They automatically keep these areas clean, and never use such a location for "bathroom" related activities. By understanding these instincts, and that domestic dogs have these same instincts inside of them, you'll have a much better time in the process of training your dog to use a dog bed. The new dog bed should be placed at the previous location as their old bed. Try to keep it away from common areas where there may be loud noises and constant interruptions. Keep the bed away from drafty areas or areas that receive direct airflow from your home's heating or cooling vents. It is OK to place the bed in the same area where your dog eats as long as that area meets the conditions that just outlined.
Pre-Conditioning the Bed:
The dog's sense of smell is an all-powerful motivator. She uses it to detect food, danger, friend and foe. The most important use, as far as bed training is concerned, is that she uses it to detect the "Alpha Male" or "Alpha Female" in her "pack". Since her pack is your family, and the alpha male or female is the family member who the dog thinks of as the "boss", your sent means a lot to her. She knows that you represent food, protection, fun, and love. As a result, your scent is soothing to her. You can take advantage of that by placing your scent on the bed before your dog uses it for the first time. Here's how: Remove the bedding and rub it up against your skin. The goal here is to transfer your odor to the fabric. If you're a bit hot and sweaty, so much the better. Don't be afraid to really rub your scent into the fabric, your dog is going to derive great comfort from the scent. Next, rub your hands along any railings or non-fabric pieces that make up the bed. Again your goal is to transfer your scent. Once you have permeated the bed with your scent, allow other family members to do the same. Your dog's nose is keen enough to pick out each of the individual scents and will immediately recognize that this new object "belongs" here and that all of the members of her pack have visited it.
Leading Your Dog to the Dog Bed:
Once the dog bed has been well conditioned, place a few of your dog's toys on the bed or possible the old bed cover and call your dog to the bed, allowing him or her to "check it out" by sniffing around. Pat your hand on the dog bed to see if he or she will hop up into it. If s/he won't hop up of his or her own volition, place him or her on it gently. S/he doesn't have to lie down on it yet; this is simply an effort to get him or her used to the bed, and add his or her own scent. When your dog is in the bed, make sure to praise him or her, and give him or her a good scratch or rub. Your goal is to let your dog associate the dog bed with pleasure, happiness, comfort, and love.
When your dog appears to be ready to lie down for the night call her to the bed and repeat all of the steps above. make sure that her favorite toys or blanket are in the bed. Lie down with her, if possible, until she falls asleep. If she refuses to sleep in the bed at first, do not discipline her. Take your time and repeat the procedure every day until she gets the hang of it. It could take up to a week, or more, for her to start thinking of her new dog bed as her own cozy den.
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