"Go to bed" is one of the simplest and most useful commands you'll ever teach.
A few times this command may come in handy include:
- When the pizza guy is at the door and your dog won't let you bring your pie in
- When guests are walking into your home and don't want to be jumped on by an excited dog
- When doors leading outside will be open, like when you're carrying groceries in or having furniture delivered
- When you simply don't want your dog pushing the bathroom door open again (or is that just my dog?)
Now that we've covered when you might use the "go to bed" command, let's talk about how to teach it. It's very simple.
1. Decide on the target area: a dog bed, crate, or other place your dog likes that will work well as the designated safe zone. It should be a positive place and never used for punishment.
2. Get a bag of healthy dog treats and sit near the bed, but not too close. A distance of 10-15 feet is good, as it clearly defines "bed" versus any other space. If you don't have good aim, you may want to be a little closer.
3. Get your dog to sit in front of you and show him the treat.
4. Toss the treat onto the bed and say "Go to bed" clearly. When your dog reaches the bed, praise him.
5. Call your dog back and repeat. As your dog succeeds, add in complications such as longer distance or giving the command from another room.
6. Once your dog is going to the target area on command, you can add in "sit" and "stay" until your dog does it as soon as he reaches the target area.
That's it. The treat your dog receives when he reaches the bed reinforces the bed as the place to be when you say "Go to bed." That, combined with the praise, makes it a command with positive connotations, so he won't resist doing it because he's nervous or afraid of punishment. Simple and effective.
What if your dog isn't treat-motivated? Many dogs are very eager to please, so praise works well for them. Have a partner sit by the bed and call your dog when you say "Go to bed." Then, your partner can heap praise and pets when your dog reaches the bed.
Remember, training should be done in 5-10 minute increments, so don't go overboard all at once. Practice in short sessions each day until your dog can perform this action perfectly.
Have you taught this or something similar to your dog? Head over to the PawPosse.com Facebook fan page and let us know.