How to Sleep Train Your Rescue Dog GUEST POST

        BY     Nisha Miller <>

Family Living Today

Even though dogs sleep anywhere from 12 to 20 hours a day, they don’t always do it in a way that’s conducive to a human’s seven to nine-hour sleep cycle. Puppies need to learn the boundaries of their sleep space and older dogs may need to transition from your bed to a dog bed so that everyone can get the rest they need. Sleep training takes time and patience, which at night can be hard to find. Even though it might take some effort, that doesn’t mean sleep training your dog can’t be a pleasant experience for everyone involved.

1. Prep Your Pup

Learning a new skill requires attention and focus. Dogs, especially young ones, need to be prepared before they start training. As strange as it sounds, it’s best to sleep train early in the day or afternoon when your dog is fresh and ready to go, not at bedtime.

The reason being that your first goal is to introduce your dog to his dog bed. Now, some dogs won’t have a problem with a dog bed, but others may be skittish or prefer laying down somewhere else like the couch or your bed. Before you begin, make sure your dog is well fed and exercised so he can fully focus on the job at hand.

2. Gather Your Supplies

You don’t need that many supplies. A leash, dog bed, and treats should do the trick.

3. Introduce the Bed

If your rescue dog is new to your home, he may be skittish about new situations or rooms. For that reason, we recommend putting the dog bed in a room that the dog is already comfortable in. That may mean the kitchen, mudroom, or living room rather than your bedroom.

Put your dog on a leash and lead him over to his bed. Let him sniff it and take a look. If your dog is hesitant, that’s as far as you need to go for his first training session. Some dogs will refuse to even look at the dog bed so be patient as this could take time.

4. “Go to Your Bed”

Some dogs will skip past step 3 directly to the command step. Once your dog is accustomed to the bed, proceed as in step 3 but give the command for your pup to go to bed when you have reached the bed. Then, make your dog lie down on the bed. Be sure to treat him as soon as he lays. Get him up and do it again, treating every time he lays down. With each successful try, have him lie down a little longer before you give him a treat.

Dogs don’t have a long attention span, so you don’t want to train longer than 10 to 15 minutes. After that, praise your dog and leave training until the next day. As you progressively teach your dog to go to his bed and lay, you’ll soon have him laying for longer and longer periods of time. That’s when it’s time for step 5.

5. Move the Bed to Your Bedroom

Now you should move the dog bed to your bedroom or whatever room in which your dog will permanently sleep. If your rescue dog previously slept on his owner’s bed, this may actually be the hardest step. However, you’re in charge and your dog needs to know that.

After moving the dog bed into the bedroom, repeat steps 3 and 4, again training early in the day after your dog has been fed and exercised. Treat him every time he gets into the lay position. Have him stay for longer and longer periods of time before treating.

6. Bedtime

Once your dog successfully gets and stays on the bed for an extended period of time, it’s time to put it all together at bedtime. Make sure to treat your dog when he lays in his bed. If he attempts to get onto your bed, give the command to go to bed, and make sure he obeys because even the best mattress topper won’t absorb all the movement of a dog.

Try to enjoy the training process as time you get to spend one on one with your dog. With patience and consistency, everyone in your household will be able to get the rest they need.




Bringing a new fur baby home from a shelter poses some interesting challenges to the family.  Shelter life is much different than living in a forever home.  This article gives you some pointers in how to transition your pup from the cage life to having his/her own bed in the family bedroom.  Hope this helps you with you decision and technique for change.    Personally I enjoy sharing my bed with my service dog  Bella.  But this is a personal choice and there have been many articles on the pros and cons of sleeping in the same bed as your pup.

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