How do we get the dog off our bed at night?
March 13, 2008 10:13 AM   Subscribe

Dogfilter: We need help training our dog to sleep in her kennel and not in our bed. How can we do this?

Without going into too much detail, my wife and I lost our baby at 5 months and I got a dog for her to help her cope and funnel her parental energy. The dog quickly became our little baby and slept in our bed from the beginning.

I am allergic to dogs (although not badly) and I use an air filter at night that has worked well enough to control my congestion.

Our dog is a Karen Terrier, is about 12 pounds, has hair not fur, and is female.

We now want to get the dog sleeping in her kennel or on the floor at night because she is getting too big and my allergies are starting to over power the air filter. Here is where I need your help. We have tried several times to put her in the kennel, however, she cries and barks until we take her out. We have tried leaving her in there for hours and she continues to cry and bark the entire time. Obviously this keeps us up at night so we end up bringing her back in the bed. I know the dog has figured out that through crying she will eventually make it back to the room.

We know this is our fault and we trained the dog to be in our bed but we really need to know how can we break this habit. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

posted by birdlips to Pets & Animals (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Time. Also, know that when you let her out when she's crying, you're encouraging crying. see: extinction burst.

Also, you may try placing a blanket over the crate at night. Her being able to see you is causing a lot of your issues. Also, try integrating the use of her crate at times when it's not negative. Leave the door open, place treats and yums inside, and make a big deal whenever she goes in. Yay! and all that.
posted by TomMelee at 10:16 AM on March 13, 2008

Try putting one of your t-shirts (that you have worn and smell like you) in the crate. She might ruin it so make sure it's not something you will miss.

Give her a treat. A beef-flavored bone or some other fantastic treat that will make her happy and occupy her. I've read not to be a nut about restricting treats. Treat well and treat often. Do whatever it takes to keep her quiet for a while. Gnawing on a bone might help to wear her out. I'm no dog expert. I don't know if it's appropriate to give treats in the crate, but I do it.

Slide the crate close to your bed. Put your hand in it and talk to her. Say, "it's ok, night-night." Or, "Quiet!" in a sharp tone. "Quiet!" works for our dog. It sounds a little mean, but we only have to say it once or twice and she is quiet.

I let my puppy sleep with me half the time, the other half she sleeps in her crate. On crate nights I find that if my husband and I are in the bedroom and having a conversation it comforts her and lulls her to sleep. So, don't forget to talk for a while and let her know you are there. Hopefully she will settle down. And for now on, as you already are aware, do not take her out of the crate if she cries. I know it is hard. Eventually she will wear out out and be forced to sleep.
posted by LoriFLA at 10:27 AM on March 13, 2008

Get a book which teaches you how to crate train properly, what you are doing is both teaching her that barking gets her out AND not actually acclimating her to her crate - any modern puppy training book (Ian Dunbar's "Before & After You Get Your Puppy" for example) will have a crate training section. Also, keep the crate in the bedroom with you if you aren't already doing that. This will not happen overnight, especially since you have to both retrain her not to sleep on the bed and train her to accept the crate (remember that the crate should be a safe, fun, relaxing place, with good toys and chewies, not a prison) (and it's "Cairn" terrier)
posted by biscotti at 10:27 AM on March 13, 2008

Response by poster: I should have mentioned that the kennel is outside the room. I honestly never thought of bringing it into our room. That is a great idea. Also, my step mothers name is Karen, force of habit....
posted by birdlips at 10:31 AM on March 13, 2008

Hi there... I helped a person out just a few days ago that was having a problem very similar to yours... it was quite a bit of typing and I don't want to copy and past it all right here and (ima Noob forgive me) i know nothing about HTML and don't know how to link to it in this answer.
So if you can search back a few days there is a pretty detailed explanation on how to get a dog to love the crate and sit in there quietly.

Basically yes you have reinforced the hell out of the dog for crying and every time you have brought her back in bed you have made the behavior stronger... look out for a hellacious extinction burst.

You have to ignore behavior you don't want and reinforce behavior you do want.. only let her out when she is quiet and maybe get some ear plugs?
posted by fogonlittlecatfeet at 10:39 AM on March 13, 2008

I think fog means this comment?
posted by canine epigram at 10:46 AM on March 13, 2008

Fog's advice sounds good to me. Try to think of things you can do to make the crate a wonderful, fun place to be for your dog. My dog loves peanut butter Kongs--they're just about her favorite thing in the whole wide world, and her crate is the only place she gets them. When she sees the peanut butter jar in my hand, she runs to her crate and waits impatiently. Every time I leave the house, I put her in there and close the door. Licking out the peanut butter takes a long time and by the time she's done, she's sleepy and just nods off. Takes care of separation anxiety, too--I think she looks forward to me leaving so she can get a Kong.

Also, we have a game for burning off energy in the house when it's too crappy to go outside. I tell her different places to run in the house and she runs around like a maniac from one place to another--"front door!" "back door!" "get in bed! (her dog bed)" "bathroom!" etc., and, most importantly, "go in your crate!" She associates the crate with this rollicking good time.

When she was a puppy, I used to toss treats into her crate and tell her "go in your crate!" and let her come right back out, then I praised the hell out of her. I never ever used it as punishment, never--although sometimes when she was getting too rambunctious I would put her in there with a Kong just to give mom a break for little while.

Now she adores her crate, as who wouldn't? (Also, yeah, it should definitely be by your bed. She needs to hear you talking and snoring and breathing and to smell you--dogs are pack animals and she wants to be with you.)
posted by Enroute at 11:50 AM on March 13, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the help, I am really excited to try these out. And I really appreciate that all the suggestions were humane ones, like not hitting or roughing up the dog....
posted by birdlips at 12:25 PM on March 13, 2008

Here is a good guide to beginning crating. In addition to the recommendations listed, I have had success covering the crate with a sheet or towel. Be careful not to block air flow from the vents on the side, but something to block visual from the door can make a big difference and allow the dog to settle down without being taunted with the idea that you are right there. Try to make sure it can't get pulled into the crate and eaten and make sure she won't get too hot inside. Once she gets used to it you can gradually raise the sheet or remove it.
posted by hindmost at 12:40 PM on March 13, 2008

We had to put the crate in the furthest part of the house from the bedroom and wear earplugs while we were crate training our dogs.
posted by Jacqueline at 3:23 PM on March 13, 2008

Hang in there. We went through exactly the same thing. Allergies were just too much for me to keep the pug in our bed. Now her and her sis sleep in the other room with her in her crate. Give her a toy she can't destroy, something comfy to lay on that smells like you and cover the crate with a blanket. And prepare to ride it out. She will get used to it. We couldn't crate her in our room, she wouldn't ever settle down. She doesn't love the crate but she does go in willingly now.
posted by CwgrlUp at 4:33 PM on March 13, 2008

Feed her in her crate and only in her crate. That worked very well with our dogs.
posted by Addlepated at 6:36 PM on March 13, 2008

Oh, and also, if you do want to let her out, you absolutely positively must wait until she's quiet for at least a good few seconds, preferably more like 15 or 30 seconds.
posted by Enroute at 7:54 PM on March 13, 2008

We were having difficulty with this. We rescued our dog and of course made the huge mistake of letting the dog sleep in the bed. He has dominance issues and letting him sleep in the bed just made things so much worse. So, we got him a bed and put it outside our bedroom door and made the dog sleep outside our room for three nights. We let him back in on the fourth night and he's been sleeping in his bed since. It is important not to give in when the dog starts crying. Get some earplugs and try to sleep though it.
posted by miss meg at 10:09 AM on March 14, 2008

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