4 Ways to Get Your Pet to Sleep in Their Own Bed

Training your pet to sleep in their bed can be tricky. Use these four tips for cats and dogs.

Taylor Leamey Senior Writer
Taylor Leamey writes about all things wellness, specializing in mental health, sleep and nutrition coverage. She has invested hundreds of hours into studying and researching sleep and holds a Certified Sleep Science Coach certification from the Spencer Institute. Not to mention the years she spent studying mental health fundamentals while earning her bachelor's degrees in both Psychology and Sociology. She is also a Certified Stress Management Coach.
Expertise Bachelor of Science, Psychology and Sociology Credentials
  • Certified Sleep Science Coach, Certified Stress Management Coach
Taylor Leamey
4 min read
Goldendoodle dog sitting in their dog bed next to the window.
Getty Images/Oscar Wong

Nothing beats the feeling of cuddling with your pet. Unless your oversized pup is smothering you in your sleep or your cat is snoozing on your head. 

If you have allergies or if your sleep is being disturbed, it may be best for your pet to sleep in their own bed. Unfortunately, it's not as easy as buying a new pet bed. It will take a little bit of work. But with consistency and a hefty dose of patience, you can train your pet to sleep in their bed. Here's how.

How to train your dog to sleep in their own bed

1. Find the right dog bed

You want the world for your dog -- including the ideal dog bed for their size, shape, and needs. Dog beds offer several special features like water-resistant fabric, cooling gel, memory foam and orthopedic materials. 

Keep these things in mind when buying a dog bed:

  • Your dog's size: Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, and so do their beds. You want your dog to be comfortable in their new bed, and ensuring they fit is an important way to do that. 
  • The material (and how easy it is to wash): You want the bed to be comfortable, but it also needs to be washable -- extra points for removable covers that you can throw in the washing machine. 
  • Any unique needs your dog has: Some beds are made from orthopedic materials that are designed to soothe stiff joints. Others have cooling gel for breeds with thick coats. 

Buying the right dog bed is the easy part. Now you need to get them to sleep in it. Try adding some of their favorite toys or a blanket to make it more appealing.

Read more: Best Dog Beds of 2022

2. Establish where they sleep 

Once you have the dog bed, you must figure out where to put it. Take note of where your dog likes to lie down. Every dog will be different -- maybe they want to sleep close to you or in the living room to watch over the house. Moving the bed around in the beginning stages is normal to find the ideal spot. But once you've found it, try not to move their bed. 

3. Teach them basic commands

A few basic commands will go a long way when teaching your dog to sleep in their new bed. Keep them simple. Use commands like "go to bed" or "bed" and "stay." You should expect this to be a process while they're learning to associate the command with the behavior expected of them. Start by walking them to their bed and using the command. 

Remember to practice these commands consistently and not just at night. Practicing them during the day will help your dog learn and remember what is expected.

4. Use positive reinforcement

One word: Treats. The driving force of motivation for many dogs is food. While treats aren't the only way to provide positive reinforcement, the method is one of the most significant. It's as easy as giving them feedback when they get in their bed -- whether it be a treat or a head pat. "Good boy" or "good girl" are also ways to get their tails wagging and confidence up. 

How to train your cat to sleep in their own bed

I can't tell you how many cat beds and hammocks are collecting dust around my house, untouched by any little cat feet. Cats can be more difficult to train, but teaching them to sleep in their bed is not impossible. 

Gray and white kitten sleeping on the back of a chair
Getty Images/Beech Photography Tokyo

1. Find the perfect location

When cats look for places to sleep, it's all about warmth, safety and comfort. Typically for cats, you want their new bed to be somewhere they feel safe -- away from doors or other animals. Cats feel more comfortable up high. So it's a good idea to place their new bed on top of a dresser or cat tree. 

Another part of the puzzle is making it appealing. If your cat likes to lie on your pile of laundry, try putting a shirt in the new bed. Or you can try their favorite cat toys to help them actively seek out the new bed.

2. Choose the right bed

Similar to choosing beds for dogs, you should choose a bed suitable for your cat's sleeping position. If you've got a textbook scaredy-cat on your hands, you may want to try a hooded bed with a covering that helps them feel safe. 

With cats, you want to pay special attention to what it is made out of. Cats like to knead before sleep, so it should be a material that can withstand picks from cat nails. 

3. Play with them before bedtime

While you never want to wake your kitty during a daytime nap to teach them about their new bed, playtime is the perfect opportunity. Trying to tire your cat out can help them settle into a new bed. If your cat responds to catnip, you can use this to put them in the mood for a nap. Once they're good and tired, place them in the bed. Placing a few treats in your cat's bed will help them check it out and associate it with good things. 

4. Make their usual spots undesirable

A cat can pretty much sleep anywhere. You need to make other spots unappealing if you want them to sleep in their bed and only their bed. This could be as simple as closing your doors at night. Or a little more involved, like spraying things with citrus oils, which cats avoid. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.