where should my dog sleep

My dog has taken over my bed - how can I change this?

Does your dog sleep on your bed? That’s fine, if you like it! If you don’t, learn here how to change things without anyone getting upset.  | FREE EMAIL COURSE TOO | #puppytraining, #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #dogbed, #dogbehavior  | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

I had a recent query from a reader:

“Hi Beverley, Thanks for your informative emails. My puppy is now 8 months old and has been a joy (mainly) but I made the mistake of letting her sleep on my bed and now she is getting bigger. She’s only a small dog but still takes up a lot of room in the bed! Can you give me some tips how I can train her to sleep in her bed?”

This is an interesting question, and I expect many people are saying right now “Yeah, me too!”

Plenty of ideas in this free 8-lesson email course for changing your life with your dog!

   

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Cute puppies can develop all sorts of habits that you let pass, but as the cute puppy becomes a hairier, muddier, larger person, there may be some things you wish you hadn’t allowed in the first place!

This type of question pre-supposes that an established behaviour can’t be changed without difficulty.

Behaviour is just that - behaviour. It’s something your dog does. (Or something we do, of course, but we’ll stick with dogs for now.) So changing that behaviour to something else is just the same as for any other change you want to make.

It’s not a “mistake”. It just is.

So approach this as you would any new thing you want to teach your dog.

1. Your dog is doing something.

2. Decide what you’d like instead.

3. Teach the new thing.

And, of course, be consistent with the new thing. If it’s no bed, then it’s no bed. Ever.

There’s no absolute right or wrong here. If you like your dog doing something that another person disapproves of - then that’s that person’s problem, not yours. We have enough to deal with in life without taking on other people’s disapproval!

You may have been told by some misguided person that this is the thin end of the wedge and that you have to “be the boss” or the dog will take over your house. This is outdated “pack” nonsense. (And as long as the dogs take over the bills too, that’s ok with me …)

Back to the bed question

And it may be that you’re attaching emotion to this bed question. You may be thinking that you’re spurning your dog if you no longer share your bed with her. But your dog is not attaching emotion to the bed - it’s just comfy! And up to now it has been your preferred sleeping place for her.

I’m assuming that there isn’t a resource guarding element to this question, as it isn’t mentioned at all. If your dog doesn’t want to relinquish her place on your bed, and underlines her wishes with wrinkly lips, immobility, or growling, then you have an entirely different issue. Check out this post for help with that. 

Back to the bed … Many people have their newborn baby in their bedroom, and over time move him to another room. As I mentioned in last week’s post about puppies, things change and evolve naturally.

So time for your pup to move to a “grown-up bed” of her own!

A new bed

Make the new bed very inviting and comfy. Depending on your dog’s breed or type, you may want a flat bed she can stretch out on, or if a whippet, terrier, or other tunnelling breed, a tunnel bed or folded duvet to bundle herself up in will go down well.

Using the matwork from Calm Down!  you can quickly teach “go to bed”. Then you can play the game of:

your bed —> her bed

her bed —> your bed

all on vocal cue.

You may need to be persistent, depending on the comfort level and suitability of the new bed!

And you may find that your dog starts the night happily in her new super-comfy bed, but somehow has snuck onto your bed when you wake in the morning. You’ll just have to be vigilant and ask her to go back to her own bed as soon as you feel the bump and hear the sigh.

My own dogs have individual sleeping arrangements. Cricket the Whippet loves wrapping herself in her duvet, and Coco Poodle has a raised bed which he hops onto at night and remains there till invited off in the morning once I’m up. The others can sleep where they like - though they do have beds provided.

So even in the same household - the same bedroom - you can have different behaviours from the different dogs. As long as their needs are catered for, they’re happy.

There are 6 dogs happily hidden in these beds!

There are 6 dogs happily hidden in these beds!

My dog is busybusy all day long and never stops!

Help! My dog is busybusy all day long. How can I get him to calm down? | FREE BOOK! | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #doghealth, #dogbehavior, #dogsleep, #overexciteddog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

You may enjoy your dog keeping you company all day - but if your lifestyle is very active and busy you’re actually not helping him! Like toddlers, dogs need to have naps and calm periods built into their day. They are crepuscular beasties - which means they are most alert at twilight, their ancestral hunting time.

And just like toddlers, not getting these vital rest periods will result in disturbed behaviour. For your dog this means that he’s much shorter-tempered, easily agitated, hard to reason with.

This is making your life much harder than necessary! And if you are blessed with a Growly Dog who is already disposed to reactivity, fear, anxiety, or aggression, you can 10x that!

Plenty of ideas in this free 8-lesson email course for calming down your life with your dog!

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And as we know that stress is the silent killer for humans, so it can be for dogs, predisposing them to ailments that they are unable to resist.

I wrote about sleep and puppy-biting a while ago. And I’m revisiting this subject because it is SOOOO important, and so seldom understood!

So how can you curb your frantic dog’s activity and improve life for both of you?

Bedtimes

The first thing to do is establish sleeping areas in the home where your dog can sleep without being disturbed. So rather than letting your puppy crash where he runs out of steam, always transfer him to his crate or bed. Build these sleep-places into your day from the start.

Protected sleep times are also important to build in from Day 1. My dogs are all adult, and as I write they are all in or on various beds near me. They sleep while I work (lucky them!). This pattern of “when nothing’s happening you need to sleep” is carefully baked in from the day the puppy arrives with me.

A puppy who’s been awake for more than an hour or so needs to go to bed!

But you can still teach an older dog this way of life, even if there are established patterns of lunacy!

Teaching an older dog to rest

How much sleep should a healthy dog have? You may be surprised to find that it’s A LOT! This post will explain it to you, and how to achieve the right level for your dog | FREE BOOK! | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #doghealth, #dogbehavior, #dogsleep, #overexciteddog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Here’s an extract from my book series Essential Skills for your Growly but Brilliant Family Dog which you can find here. I’m repeating it here because it illustrates so well how quickly you can influence some of your dog’s behaviours when you approach it the right way.

“I was visiting a very caring couple who had brought their young rescue collie Tim to classes when they first got him. I was glad they’d got in touch again, because the young dog was very fearful and couldn’t cope well with life. We arranged a visit.

While there, it became clear that this hyperactive dog was wearing himself out. For the first twenty minutes of my visit he never stopped. He raced in and out of the room, jumped up my front, my back, chewed my hair, poked the other dog, ran off again, paced … never rested.

So I quickly amended my training plan to include some relaxation work. After some active games to get Tim to engage with me, I started teaching him to slow down and relax. After just five minutes of this, his owner expressed amazement at seeing her frantic dog actually lying down still for more than ten seconds at a time!

When I finished the short session and released him, what did he do? Do you think he went straight back into busybusy mode, panting and racing?

Nope. He just slid onto the floor beside us, and as he lay there his head started to loll, his eyelids drooped, and he was … asleep!

To the total astonishment of his owner, who had never seen him sleep in the day!

So how much sleep should Tim be having?

Did you know that dogs need to have an average seventeen hours of sleep a day to work at their optimum level with the least amount of stress?

Seventeen hours.

I can hear you all saying, “My dog never sleeps that much.”

Well, it’s seventeen hours for adult dogs - obviously more for puppies. And some dogs need to be helped to achieve this total.

Tim had had a poor start in life before his present owners took him in and gave him a secure and loving home. So he’d developed habits of nervous and stressy behaviour which had stuck with him. Showing him how to relax transformed him in just a few short minutes and allowed him to get some much-needed rest.

His owners are carrying on this work with him, and it will make all the other things we have to teach him so much easier.”

Calm

Want to know what I did to relax this hyper dog? To get the exact program, work through the first book in the Essential Skills for a Brilliant Family Dog series: Calm Down! Step-by-Step to a Calm, Relaxed, and Brilliant Family Dog It’s free at all e-book stores, and also available in paperback online and you can order it from any good bookshop. Quite apart from the usefulness of this skill for any dog, anywhere, if you have a reactive dog it will hugely benefit him.

Be aware that teaching calm and relaxation is not teaching a stay exercise with the traditional stern shouting and finger-waving! (Although, curiously, you will get a solid stay as a result.)

The object is quite different - to change your dog’s mental state, not to anchor his physical position.

Learning how to switch off can also help with Separation Anxiety. If this is an area of distress for your dog, you could do with going through a whole protocol to make positive changes. This book by Patricia McConnell has a step-by-step program. It’s not an overnight fix, and few people in my experience can be bothered to resolve this issue for their poor dog - unless he’s destroying the house and defecating all over the carpet. But think how much happier you’ll all be if instead of agitated pacing when you’re out, you just get peaceful snoozing.

I’ll also mention the Relaxation Protocol. (These audios have been generously provided by Roxanne Hawn and are free to download.) This is a program which takes incremental steps from frantic non-resting dog to chilled-out dog with a lower heart-rate and dreamy feelings of comfort and relaxation.

It’s a simple program: you don’t have to do Day 1 only on Day 1 - repeat each “Day” till you have it right, then move on to the next “Day”. I choose to have the dog lying down for this - more conducive to dozing. It takes time, yes, but it’s time well spent helping your dog destress. You’ll feel as if you’ve had a relaxation session yourself when it’s over!

It’s worth getting started on it to help your dog access the calm side of his mind, which he may have lost sight of in his anxiety. Again, few people in my experience follow through on this and complete the cycle in several different places. But those who do get MASSIVE improvement! It’s especially useful for the never-resting dog, the hyper dog, the anxious or fearful dog, your Growly Dog.

For plenty more tips on getting the best out of your relationship with your dog, get this free 8-part email course

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