How to Teach a Young Dog to Go to the Dog Bed on Command

By: Sam Kanouse

Published Date: July 17, 2017

Lucy is a one-year-old hound mix who lives in Omaha. Her guardians set up a dog behavior training session to help her stop jumping up, stop door dashing, and help her gain self control.

When Lucy greeted me, she quickly demonstrated jumping up and her door dashing tendencies. I encouraged the guardians to not hold Lucy by her collar when greeting guests at the door. By holding on to the dog collar, it causes tension, which results in the dog pulling harder.

You can see how Lucy greeted me at the door in the video below.

When I sat down with the guardians to discuss Lucy’s behavior issues, I learned that Lucy didn’t have a lot of rules in place. When dogs don’t have rules and structure it can lead to them thinking that they are the leader of the house.

The main dog behavior concern that the guardians had was Lucy jumping up and her high energy. The average dog needs about 45 minutes of exercise per day, while some high-energy dogs need more. I suggested that they bring her to doggy daycare, play fetch in the backyard and incorporate a dog walker who offers to take dogs running. When a young dog persists in undesirable behaviors, often times they are not getting enough exercise and are seeking out ways to release their energy.

Just like little children, young dogs do not always know when they are tired and can keep escalating their energy level. It is helpful to teach your dog to go to their dog bed when directed to help them calm down.

Because this is a home with young children I suggested that we create a safe zone for Lucy. Not that the kids were doing anything wrong, but it is always helpful for a dog to have a place to retreat to when overwhelmed. We incorporated a new rule: when Lucy is on her dog bed, she is off-limits to the kids. This provides Lucy a place to rest or retreat to when she is tired or no longer wants to play with the kids. This makes the dog feel empowered, which can improve its trust and confidence in the home.

You can see how we trained Lucy to go to her dog bed on command in the video below.

It is important to point out that while having a cue to direct your dog to go to their bed is useful, we want to keep this a positive experience. I’ve seen situations when people directs them to go to the dog bed when they don’t want to engage with their dog, which can create a negative association for the dog. I frequently see this when people don’t have enough time to take their dog out for exercise and are finding their dog’s energy annoying.

When Lucy jumps up on people, I showed her guardians how they can disagree with her using the escalating consequences, however during the leash time-out the guardians will want to use a chain linked leash to prevent Lucy from developing a habit of chewing on her leash. Another technique that they can use if Lucy is persistent in jumping up, is to go quietly into a different room and close the door behind them. Wait for Lucy to calm down before going back to see her. If Lucy is acting anxious by pacing, jumping up at the door or barking, and you come out to greet her, she will think that her anxious behavior is what caused your return. A dog training secret that I shared with them was to stop petting her anytime she is excited, such as when they come home.

By the end of the session, Lucy was starting to look to her guardians for leadership and adopt the follower mindset. We had gotten Lucy to stop  door dashing, developed self control and was learning to not jump up on guests or her guardians.

You can see Lucy’s Roadmap to Success video below.

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This post was written by: Sam Kanouse

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