You read reviews of various dog beds, made your choice carefully, got it shipped and… your dog isn’t as thrilled. This is rare but it can happen. Is there something wrong? Is this a fail? Can something be done?
Is something wrong? Probably not. Some sensitive/cautious dogs are just naturally suspicious of new things. Maybe the bed shifted a bit when he first tried it.* Maybe the fabric feels or sounds different. Who knows? We don’t have to know exactly why a dog is cautious to help him get over it.
Is this a fail? Not at all. We can change his mind.
Can something be done? Certainly! And easily. Soon he will be loving his new bed and you will be loving his enjoyment of it. Here are three simple things you can do:
1) Treat it Up!
Our goal: To change his mind from “Uh-oh, what’s that thing?” to “I love this thing!”
Here’s what you do: Leave a couple of yummy treats near the bed. We want him to think: “Wow, anytime I go near the bed, I find a great treat.” Then leave the treats on the bed, toward the front. When those are taken readily, put them in the middle. Then toward the back. This is an easy way to make progress.
Have multiple dogs? Then play approach/retreat instead. Put your other dogs away and walk toward the bed. When your dog is near the bed – smile, praise, give a treat and walk away. Repeat. Soon he’ll be thinking: I hope we approach that dog bed again, this is fun!
2) Pet it Up!
For the next week, pet and praise your dog when he is near the bed. Want to really make your point? Ignore him the rest of the time but when he is near the bed smile, notice and praise. Feel like really loving on your dog for a minute, go over to the bed and do so. He doesn’t have to get on the bed at first, just needs to be near it. When this is easy, give him attention when a foot is on the bed. Two feet. Have fun with this. Make this a game. The more you turn your attention on dramatically when he is near the bed the quicker your dog will change his mind.
3) Toy it Up!
Store all his toys on the new bed. Simple as that. Or get a new toy and surprise him by putting it on the bed. Whee! Bed = new toy! How much fun is that?
Helping your dog love his new bed is easy and can pay off quickly. In less than a week, most dogs will be lounging contentedly in complete agreement with you that this was the best dog bed ever!
If not, write me or comment below and I’ll help you problem solve the situation. I’m delighted to help you.
* Put a new bed on a carpet or rug at first to minimize the chance of slippage when your dog uses it. Once he is confident about the bed, you can move it back to your ideal location.