Replacing a dog’s bed, or introducing a new one, is rarely a cheap event. So, when it comes down to it, you want your dog to enjoy the new bed rather than shun it.
If you find that your dog is ignoring that plush new bed you’ve bought for them, or is consistently lying next to the bed rather than in it, here are some tips that may just work for your pup.
Location, location, location
Making sure the bed is in the right place for your dog is paramount. You want to find a space that’s the right level of cosiness, without being too drafty or too hot. Make it comfy too, either by buying a padded bed or putting your own padding in (old duvets are perfect for this!). Also bear in mind that some dogs like to feel sheltered when they’re sleeping, so popping the bed under a shelf or table, or inside a covered crate, can also work wonders and stop your pup from feeling overexposed. Make sure that, wherever you choose, they always have access to water in case they need a drink during the night.
It’s also important to think about where your pup prefers to sleep with relation to where the rest of the family is – do they like to be close, or do they prefer their own space? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a bad thing if your pup would rather sleep in your room with you: it just means that’s where they feel most safe! Also think about where other companions may be sleeping: if you have other dogs, would your pup prefer to sleep with them or with you?
The importance of scent
The dog is primarily an olfactory animal: they see the world mostly through their nose. Because of this, a new bed can be really unsettling: it smells of foreign things and unknown people, and doesn’t really facilitate sleep.
An easy way to start tackling this is to pop the covers of the new bed in the wash, as your laundry detergent and you will share a lot of the same smells. Don’t worry if the bed doesn’t have removable covers – you can skip this step and still get results.
Once you’ve done this, place some used clothing from the family in the bed. The smell will be stronger on more heavily used items of clothing, so pick things that really do need a wash! This will help make the bed smell safer and more familiar. Another trick to help this along is to place a sheet or blanket over the old bed for a few days before introducing the new bed, and switching the sheet over when you do. This way the new bed will already smell of your dog, and you can remove the sheet after a few days.
The power of positive reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is the posh way of saying “reward what you want to see more of”, and can build positive associations for your dog. Some easy ways to do this is to gently praise your pup for exploring or going into its new bed, or you can go one step further and calmly cuddle your dog or place some food into the bed for them. Bear in mind, though, that if your dog is overly excited by food, this may not have the calming positive effect we’re aiming for, so stick to the cuddles and praise.
Finally, give the ‘magic bed’ trick a go. This is a really easy game to play, as all you need to do is place some food into the bed when your pup isn’t looking. After a few repetitions, the pup will have started to build a positive association with the bed. This will likely lead to your pup seeking the bed out more. You can then reward this behaviour, as explained above, giving a double whammy of positivity.
If you’ve tried any of these tricks, or have any tips of your own that you’d like to share with our community, let us know down below.
Author: Alyssa Ralph, Your Dog’s Club Guru