Teaching Your Dog to Go to Bed

August 2019

Audience: Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers

Goal: Teach your dog how to go to their bed or mat and lie down.

When and where to use "go to your bed"

  • You can send your dog to their bed/mat when visitors are in the house, during meals or while you're watching television or working on the computer.
  • Use the bed as a safe place for your dog to go to, where they can chew on a chew toy without being in the way.

What you need to train "go to your bed"

  • Have your dog on a 6 foot leash in a quiet room. Hold the leash in your hand. You can always step on the leash if it's helpful for you to keep your hands free.
  • Place a bed/mat on the floor, pushing it against the wall so it doesn't slide.
  • Have 20 - 30 of your dog's favorite treats ready.

How to train "go to your bed"

  • Place a treat on the far end of the bed. As your dog steps on the bed, say "go to bed". Walk your dog off the bed by moving away. Repeat 8-10 times, twice a day for 2 days.
  • Put treats in your pocket and set the bed on the floor. Walk towards the bed with your dog on leash 6-10 feet. As you approach the bed, say "go to bed." Give your dog enough leash so they can move forward onto the bed. Immediately praise them and toss a treat on the dog bed. Walk them off the bed. Repeat this exercise 8-10 times, twice a day for 5 days.
  • Repeat the sequence above, but when your dog gets on the bed, ask them to "sit" or "down". Praise and reward them when they follow the cue while on the bed. Walk your dog off the bed. Repeat this 8-10 times, twice a day for 10 days.
  • Repeat the sequence above, but when your dog is sitting or lying on the bed, tell them to "stay" (if they know this cue). Count to 30 before praising and rewarding them. Release them with a release word. Repeat this 8-10 times, twice a day, increasing their stay gradually to 5 minutes.
  • Repeat the sequence above after moving the bed to different locations and adding different distractions. More information on improving how your dog responds to cues

Tips and next steps

  • Once your dog understands the cue "go to your bed," practice it with them off leash.
  • Increase the length of stays on the bed. Give your dog a chew toy while on the bed.
  • Practice 8-10 times, twice a day, one step at a time as your dog progresses.

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