Sleeping in a bed is a way for growing dogs to cultivate their inquisitive mind and gain more confidence by exploring your home. However, during the transition period from a crate to bed, your pup might be feeling great anxiety and distress.
Since dogs are animals of habit, this process must be done with great compassion and care. This process can be confusing for owners as well. However, following these techniques and giving your pet a bit of time to adjust will ensure that your dog will love sleeping in his own bed.
Why Transition From Crate To Dog Bed?
You’ve spent months training your dog to sleep in his crate. You painstakingly taught him that the crate is his den and he should keep it clean and safe. You used this as a tool to keep your pup out of trouble while you were at work.
And now, you have to do it all again! Only this time, you have to train your pooch to move to a comfy bed. This might seem pointless, considering the many advantages of a crate.
A crate can keep your puppy out of harm’s way. Puppies naturally engage in destructive behavior, so by keeping them confined in a crate, you can ensure that they aren’t chewing on wires or ripping up your pillows.
However, sleeping in a bed is a rite of passage for all dogs, as it allows them to walk around the house freely. It allows your dog to gain confidence and view your home as their home as well.
It also teaches them good manners by helping them understand where their area is and what areas are off-limits.
Teaching your dog this level of self-control is the foundation for further obedience training. Sleeping on a bed requires good behavior that must be taught.
When Should I Begin The Transition From Crate To Dog Bed?
When the transition period should begin for bed training varies greatly from pet to pet. Some dogs, especially larger dogs, mature slowly and should therefore remain in a crate for longer.
This is because, without the mental maturity required to sleep outside of a crate, it’s possible that your dog may injure themselves or damage your property.
It’s recommended that you begin training your dog to sleep on a bed within the first year. However, there are some factors that must be taken into consideration before you begin to train your dog to sleep on a bed.
- Firstly, your pup must be fully potty trained for a few months. If he still pees in the house a couple of times a month, don’t begin the crate-to-bed transition. This situation is stressful already, and your dog might be very confused about where he is allowed to go potty.
- Secondly, your dog should not be getting into trouble frequently and you should be able to leave him unsupervised for a few minutes if needed.
- If your puppy still chews up shoes as soon as he can get his teeth on them, try putting off bed training for a few more weeks. If not, you might end up with a closet that looks like a tornado went through it!
I tried to transition my puppy to a bed too early on. Though he was 1, he was still not mentally mature enough to handle this new responsibility. He was unable to stay in his bed at night, and I often woke up to my pillows in shreds!
It’s incredibly important to understand your dog’s behavior patterns; if your dog is able to understand what his toys are and what is off-limits, then it should be a good time to begin the transition.
How To Transition My Dog Out of His Crate?
You probably have a dozen questions about the best way to transition your dog from a crate to a bed. In truth, there is no one best way to do so. All you need to do is make your dog as comfortable as possible, lay down ground rules, and ensure that it isn’t an abrupt transition.
Try implementing a few of these tips to make this process as smooth as possible.
1) Choose a good bed
Your dog considers the crate as his den. He understands that nobody else is allowed in, and if he is ever feeling overwhelmed, he can hide there. Therefore, sleeping in a bed may not seem as enticing as a crate.
You need to choose a comfy, relaxing bed that works well with your dog’s personality and body. Smaller dogs usually prefer smaller beds, so that they feel cozy and secure.
Your dog’s bed should be large enough that your dog is able to sleep on it in any position without touching the ground.
Also, some dogs prefer a pillow or blanket to be extra comfy and secure.
2) Dog proof your home
One of the benefits of crate training is that the crate serves as an enclosure for the dog. In this way, you are able to leave the room or attend to other work without having to take care of your puppy 24/7.
To feel comfortable while leaving your dog loose on its bed, it is essential that you dog-proof your entire house. Cover loose wires, remove medications and loose papers, and close trash cans.
If you don’t want your pup getting into a certain room, keep that door locked or use baby gates.
Remember, dogs are inquisitive creatures and love to explore the area around them. Make sure to do this under supervision, so that you may stop your dog from destroying anything.
3) Keep the environment entertaining
A bored dog is likely to act out and destroy things. Instead, provide your pup with mind-stimulating activities so that they don’t turn their attention elsewhere (like your new couch!).
Try using treats like the Kong toy so that your pup gets rewarded by playing with them.
Let your pup explore the (dog-proofed) environment by leaving the room for a few minutes and coming back.
If your dog hasn’t displayed any negative behaviors, continue doing this a few times until you are ready to increase the time intervals in which your pup is alone.
Soon, you should be able to allow your dog to move to multiple rooms for long periods of time.
4) Let your dog nap on the bed
Since puppies tend to be a lot sleepier and take more frequent naps than adult dogs, you can have some quiet time throughout the day when your dog can nap on the bed.
To get them comfortable with this idea, reward your pooch with a treat every time that they stay calm on the bed.
Naturally, your dog will begin to sleep there throughout the day and understand that this area is for resting only.
5) Place the bed near you
Choosing a place for the bed is critical. Firstly, you need to make sure that it isn’t in an area with a lot of foot traffic. This is because people walking around might distract your dog when you are trying to teach him to sleep on the bed.
Secondly, try keeping the bed near your bed. This develops a good bond between the owner and the pet. So, by your presence alone, your dog is able to feel more relaxed, which may allow them to go to bed quicker.
6) Seated leash technique
If your dog is not comfortable with the bed, and even seems to be scared of it, try the “seated leash” technique. Leash your dog in a room with a new bed. Your dog shouldn’t be able to reach anything but the bed due to the leash.
At first, they may be wary of the bed. Eventually, they will likely get bored and their inquisitive nature will take over. So, they will start to sniff the bed or paw at it. Reward each and every interaction with the bed.
If your dog is still hesitant, lay their favorite toy or a treat on the bed.
When your dog begins to lay on the bed, reward them. After doing this a few times, reward your dog only when they are remaining calm and docile on the bed.
You can even command them to sit or lay down on the bed and reward them when they cooperate.
This is a fantastic way for your dog to step out of their comfort zone as it forces them to become comfortable with the idea of relaxing on a bed.
7) Don’t play for an hour before bed
Once your dog is content with napping on the bed, you can try to make them sleep on the bed at night. Much like a toddler, you shouldn’t rile up a puppy right before bedtime. This can cause them to get excited and misbehave.
Instead, try to create a relaxing and bonding night routine. This can include brushing, gentle pats, and even a bedtime story! This should all be done in the vicinity of the dog bed.
Therefore, when you’re all done, just make your pup lay down on the bed and he should feel so tired that he will lay down naturally.
8) Punish bad behaviors
Now that your pooch has free reign of your bedroom, they might engage in destructive behaviors at night, like jumping on your bed to wake you, playing with their bed, and chewing your household items.
If you notice this, don’t engage with their attempts to get your attention. In a stern, gentle voice, say “No!” and pull them away from what they are doing.
After around 5 seconds of staying still, reward them. Make sure not to reward them too soon, or else they might think that you are rewarding them for their earlier destructive behavior.
The transition from crate to bed sleeping, if handled with care and compassion, can be an easy process that allows your pup and you to grow closer together.
If your dog has the basic obedience levels required for this transition, this whole procedure can be a breeze!
Just ensure that your dog is calm while laying down on the bed and that you introduce it slowly, so as not to make your pet anxious by a sudden change.
If you have any questions or suggestions about this procedure, make sure to leave a comment down below!