Having your dog learn a “bed” command is a useful skill that can provide comfort and structure for both you and your furry friend. Before diving into teaching this command, it’s best if your dog already knows the “down” command. If you need guidance on teaching your dog to “down,” check out our advice section.
Step 1: Introduce the Bed
To start, gather some treats and your dog’s bed. Stand near the bed and use treats to entice your dog to come over. Once they approach the bed, put the treats inside to encourage them to step onto it. If your dog is hesitant, reward them for placing one or two paws on the bed. Gradually, build up to rewarding them for having all four paws on the bed.
Step 2: Establish the Down Position
Once your dog is comfortable standing on the bed, it’s time to teach them the “down” position. Use your hand signal to guide them into a down position on the bed. When they successfully lie down, reward them with a treat placed between their front paws. If they remain in the down position, give them more treats to reinforce the behavior. After a few seconds, say “OK” and toss them a treat away from the bed, signaling that they can get up. Repeat this process five times until your dog reliably goes to bed and lies down every time you ask.
Step 3: Encourage Independent Initiative
Now, stand next to the bed without tempting your dog over. Wait and observe if they choose to go to their bed on their own. If they do, reward them by placing a treat between their front paws to encourage them to lie down. Practice this step until they voluntarily go to bed and lie down without being asked. When they achieve this milestone, give them a special “jackpot” tasty treat or multiple treats as a reward. If they are not quite there yet, go back a few steps and try tempting them over again. Once your dog is consistently going to bed and lying down, you can introduce a cue word like “bed.” As your dog starts moving towards the bed, say “bed” and reward them after they lie down.
Step 4: Extend Bed Duration
Now you can gradually increase the amount of time your dog stays in the bed. Start by standing close to the bed again. When your dog goes to bed and remains in the down position, reward them with a treat. Slowly increase the time between each reward. Begin by rewarding every few seconds and then try withholding the treat for a bit longer before rewarding. Build up to your dog settling on the bed for 20 seconds or more, and then continue to increase the duration. Remember to give your dog frequent breaks by using the “OK” cue, which signals a time-out. If your dog struggles at any point, reduce the time between rewards and then gradually increase it again.
Step 5: Confidence in Distance
Next, it’s time to get your dog comfortable with staying in bed even when you’re not nearby. Once your dog is settled using the “bed” command, take a step back, away from your dog. If they stay in the down position, give them a reward. Repeat this process five times, and then try taking two steps back. Gradually increase the distance until you can walk away and sit down before returning to reward your dog.
If your dog gets up at any point, reduce the distance and start building it up again. Once they are comfortable with you being further away, introduce distractions like toys and people, and follow the same process of gradually increasing distance. Remember, each dog learns at their own pace, so be patient and go at their speed. If your dog becomes frustrated or starts acting out, it’s best to end the training session and resume the next day when they are refreshed, focused, and ready to learn.
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