If after reading the headline of this article you shrieked "WHY WOULD ANYONE DO THAT TO THEMSELVES?" you're not alone. This writer shrieked the same thing when her dog trainer first suggested her dog not sleep on the bed for a while. Seriously, why? Wasn't the entire point of getting a dog so that I wouldn't have to get a weighted blanket?
Sure, a weighted blanket would have been WAY more affordable but you can't put a price on waking up with a dog butt in your face every morning. However, some trainers think that allowing your dog to be on the bed before they know the house rules can create some behavior problems. Additionally, some people might just prefer not to sleep with their dogs.
As mentioned in previous articles, my dog is a perfect angel. Sure, he hops on top of all furniture (couches, dining room tables, the kitchen counter once etc.) and yeah, he sits in peoples laps uninvited, and ok fine, he barks when he wants attention, which is most of the time. But beyond that he's perfect. However, my new dog trainer suggested that the lack of any rules in our household is contributing to these behavioral issues.
Altitude is attitude
According to my trainer, "altitude is attitude." (Now, before we launch into this, a disclaimer: not all training works for all dogs. If your pup sleeps on your bed, you want him there, and he doesn't have other behavior issues, you're good! You don't need to change a thing. This advice goes out to all of us struggling to establish who the boss is in the household.)
My trainer went on to say that dogs end up on our beds because we want them there. (Uh-oh! He's on to me!) Want-based relationships will lead to impulsivity in dogs, need-based relationships will lead to security. My trainer encouraged me to notice that an insecure dog will often find a higher place to be (beds, couch, stairs, top of a landing, etc.) to establish rank, status or propriety.
So...how can you keep your dog off the bed?
Here are some options my trainer gave me, but by all means feel free to seek a second opinion. Just like people, different steps can work for different dogs.
Option 1: Crating
Contain or crate him/her in the bedroom at night so he/she can't get on the bed.
Option 2: Polite, repeated asking
Allow your dog(s) to sleep freely in your bedroom with the understanding that every time they get on your bed you will a) politely ask them kindly to get off and b) be sure to praise them when they do.
Option 3: Seven-day reset
Do a seven-day reset: keep the bedroom door closed at all times so your dog(s) don't have the opportunity to get on the bed. Choose another comfortable, secure place in the home for the dog(s) to sleep.
Option 4: Sleeping in a designated space in the bedroom
After seven days you may allow your dog(s) to return to the bedroom, to have them sleep in/on a dedicated space (crate, pen, or a bed on the floor of the bedroom).
Option 5: ask and praise
After the seven-day reset, if your dog is still jumping on the bed a) politely ask them to get off and b) be sure to praise them when they do. Do not bend on this. Your dog will be looking for you to give in, and if you do, he or she will not forget it.
My trainer warned me this will probably be easier for my dog than I think, and harder for me than I expected. But he comforted me that he used to have three dogs on his bed and running his life. (He now has the best-behaved pups in town.) It's nice to think there might be hope and better behavior at the end of this not-allowed-on-the-bed tunnel.