Treating Your Pets Fairly – Like Family

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There are many rewards to owning a dog-companionship, protection, an in-home newspaper delivery service. The list is long. With these rewards, however, come certain sacrifices. A little hair here, a muddy paw print there… It’s all par for the course and worth it, as any pet-lover will agree, when your dog greets you at the door after a long day at work.

Still, the beauty of your home shouldn’t have to be one of these sacrifices. A dog bed can help insure that it isn’t. Who hasn’t been invited to a dinner party or spent a holiday with family whose home was so inundated with dog hair that a hazmat suit would seem reasonable attire? Have you ever had dog hair get in your food steamer? It’s not a pleasant dinner, let me tell you.

You know the one; your nutty Aunt’s apartment where Fido sleeps on the dining table or your college roommate’s new place that looks less like a condo and more like a doggie-day-care due to the tufts of hound hair atop every exposed surface. The right dog bed can assist in keeping Lassie off the sofa by giving him a precious place of his own, benefiting dog and dog owner alike.

What’s more, your dog bed doesn’t have to be unsightly. Demand for stylish dog beds that complement, rather than clash with, pet owner’s home décor has increased and the result is an astounding array of options in size, shape, color, and fabric. More modern sleek than casual chic? Opt for a doggie sofa in pin-striped suede. Victoriana your preferred motif? No problem. A mini-chaise lounge in brown damask is just the thing. They plan to offer a selection of dog beds so vast as to satisfy even the most persnickety decorator!

Teaching your dog to sleep in his bed is a lot like training a child to use the toilet. Says Jim Cargill, owner of Buddy, “At first, he wasn’t thrilled. [His dog bed] was thick and he was afraid to get on it.” He goes on to explain, however, that after repeated encouragement, Buddy began to sleep on his bed more often and, eventually, sought it out as a place to rest and play with toys.

Professional dog trainers recommend a four-step process for training your dog to sleep in his bed and it is outlined below. Before you begin, choose a location for your dog bed separate from the family common space and free of cooling or heating vents that may distract your dog. Also, be sure to monitor your dog’s behavior throughout the training process, noting extreme resistance that may be the result of allergies to the dog bed fabric or discomfort due to incorrect sizing.

Step 1.

Prepare your dog bed for introduction to your dog by transferring your scent to the bedding. Rub your hands over its cover and along its bolsters, seems and cushions. Once completed, ask other family members to do the same. Your dog is familiar with your scent. It reminds him that he is safe and comfortable and makes a foreign object less scary. Remember, a dog interacts with the world through his nose.

Step 2.

Once prepared, lead your dog to his new bed with his toys. Place the toys in the dog bed and place your hand on its cushion. Your dog may not volunteer to get on the bed. At this stage of training, that is ok. Pat his head and offer praise regardless of his decision.

Step 3.

Repeat step two, petting your dog and his bedding generously. If your dog refuses to get on the bed you may gently pick him up and place him atop its cushion. Lay down on the floor beside him to indicate that this is a place for sleeping. He may or may not lie down in the bed. Either way, you have made progress. Do not force his behavior. Rather, reward his efforts with a favorite treat or a long walk.

If at any point you find your allergies acting up from the all of the dog hair in the air, you may want to look into getting an Alen Breathesmart – one of the best air purifiers on the market for pet hair and allergies.

Step 4.

Repeat steps two and three and, this time, insist firmly but lovingly that he lay down. Do this by pressingly lightly on his hind quarters once he is on his dog bed. Again, pet and praise him throughout the process and after he has lain in bed for a few minutes, quietly walk away. He may or may not remain in the bed. No matter. Reward him for his cooperation.

The above approach works for most dogs but requires time, commitment, and above all, patience on your part. For some dogs, this process will take a few days. For others, it will require weeks of review. Whatever the case, repetition and positive reinforcement are key. Never use your dog bed as punishment and always commend him for cooperating. It’s an old but true adage and particularly true here: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.