How to Get Dogs to Use Dog Beds

Last Updated on September 14, 2022 by Editorial Team

Many pet owners know the pain of going to great lengths to find the perfect bed for their furry friend, only for them to refuse to sleep in it. Often, the problem isn’t the bed itself; it’s all about the dog’s perception of this new bed or the new sleeping arrangement.

This article will shed light on why your dog may refuse his new bed and what you can do to move the transition along. Hopefully, you’ll know how to get a dog to use a dog bed.

Why Dogs Refuse New Beds

Your dog’s perception of its new bed depends on its views on whether or not it is inviting. The most important thing for an animal is how familiar a place or thing feels; they will shy away from the unfamiliar and levitate towards the familiar one. This is why they will be agitated or bark at a stranger while simultaneously greeting you with warmth and excitement.

Scents also factor into your dog’s perception of its new bed. A dog’s sense of smell is 40 times stronger than humans, and most of their inclinations are formed by what they smell in their surroundings. Therefore, they discover new things by sniffing, and a new bed will probably not smell familiar and be rejected. This reason informs the scent method of acclimatization discussed below.

Finally, giving your dog time to acclimatize to the idea of a new sleeping arrangement takes a while. Don’t expect your dog to jump onto its new bed immediately. Humans might be excited by novelty, but what’s unfamiliar is always perceived with caution in the animal kingdom. What your dog doesn’t know might harm them.

Encouraging Your Dog to Acclimatize to Their New Bed

The first thing to think about is what the old sleeping arrangements were. If dogs have an old bed, you must remove it and put it out of sight (so they cant’ smell it). Why? Because that is their bed – your dog won’t jump onto another bed because they already know they have a bed. It smells like them; they know all its nooks and crannies and the perfect position to achieve maximum comfort.

Second, give your dog time to learn the new bed and accept it before forcing him to sleep in it. Then, place it where the old bed used to be to communicate that this is the new bed. Building familiarity takes some time, but you can speed up the process using the tips discussed below.

Note that not every method will work for every dog. Some dogs may need more specialized training or take longer to comply with the new arrangement. Still, if you try consistently, you will win them over eventually.

Use Familiar Scents

Use your scent to make the bed more familiar to the dog. Once you replace the old bed with the new one, rub your hands all over it to get your scent on it. Sometimes, this is all you need to do to encourage the dog to hop on.

If it doesn’t work, throw one of your old t-shirts or blankets onto the bed so that they can learn to associate the new bed with you.

Separation anxiety can make your dog reject and even destroy a new bed, depending on the old method of sleeping. If your dog slept next to you, having your scent on its bed can calm its nerves and improve its perception of the bed.

Build Positive Associations

In this method, you associate the new bed with something they already love, such as playtime, treats, and cuddles or pets. It takes a little more time but is also effective if applied consistently.

First, let the dog ‘discover’ their bed on their own, and, once they touch it or jump onto it, reward them with something they love. Keep doing this every time your furball makes contact with the bed, and eventually, it will be sleeping on the new bed comfortably.

It’s worth mentioning that you must NEVER use the new bed as a punishment zone when the dog misbehaves.

Do not associate the new bed with timeouts, or they will develop negative emotions towards it and never use it. Also, do not punish them when they shun the new bed.

Use Some Trickery

Finally, you can replace the old dog bed with the new dog bed, but keep the old bed’s cover on the new one. Then, once used to it, swap out the bed covers too, and you’ll have it using the new bed with no sweat.

Alternatively, you can introduce a familiar blanket onto the old bed before removing it. Then, use the same blanket on the new bed as above. This may be useful where the new bed looks utterly different from the old one.


Of course, it pays to mention that your dog will only take to the new bed if they find it comfortable according to how they like to sleep. These are just a few tips on how to get dogs to use a dog bed.

If they like stretching, a rectangular mattress is best. On the other hand, if your dog curls up into a ball, an oval or round enclosed bed works better. Older, sick, or arthritic dogs may need memory foam mattress toppers. Finally, put some favorite toys in the new bed to make it even more familiar.

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