Transitioning your puppy from sleeping in your bed to sleeping in a crate is best done early. The longer you wait and the more your furry pal grows accustomed to sleeping in your bed, the harder it will be to take his bed-sleeping privileges away. With understanding, patience and determination, and knowing what to expect, you can make the process as smooth as possible.
A puppy who slept in your bed for one week will be easier to transition to a crate than a puppy who has been enjoying the comfort of your bed for 11 months. Dealing with a young puppy is easier, because toward the age of 1 year, your pet companion's adult temperament sets in. If this turns out to be aggressive and territorial, you might need a behavior specialist to safely help you make the bed-to-crate transition. Initially, train your puppy to sleep in a crate in your bedroom, because your smell, sight and sounds, are comforting to him.
This isn't a one-day task. To get Boomer used to being confined, place treats in and around the crate to encourage him to explore it. For days, feed him his meals in the crate by placing his food bowl close enough to the entrance so only his head's in the crate. Daily move the bowl further back until you can close the crate door while he eats. At that point you'll close the door while he eats and release him when he's through. Every day, increase the length of time he remains in the crate after feeding before releasing. Once Boomer stays calmly in the crate for 30 minutes, you can begin training him for sleeping in the crate at bedtime.
When bedtime comes around, after you've established the crate as his place with those 30-minute training intervals after feeding, place your puppy in the crate, leaving the door open. Give him a treat, and toss one in the create to forge a pleasant association. If he leaves the crate and comes to your bed, return him and give him a treat; but this time close the crate door. It might seem harsh, but this is your moment. You have to be firm and stop his bed-sleeping cold turkey for it to be effective -- periodically allowing him in your bed just confuses your puppy.
If Boomer whines when you crate him, be stoic, because giving him treats or releasing and petting him will make him whine each time you confine him. Instead, wait five minutes. If he doesn't stop, go to the crate, let him smell your hand and tell him, "You're okay, go to sleep." If he whines again, wait 10 minutes before repeating your prior actions. With each future occurrence, slowly increase the duration before going to him. After about three times, he'll understand that there's no way out and that he has to sleep in the crate.
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.