Are you having a day with a lot going on? Maybe you are prepping your house for a party or having workers in and out all day. Adding to the chaos, Ursula is interested in absolutely everything going on and is following you around the house, underfoot at your every turn. A handy command at times like these is the “Go to Bed” command.
Command 17 - “Go to Bed”
The “Go to Bed” command means your puppy should find her bed or special place, designated by you, where she will lie down and relax quietly out of your way. You can have more than one designated special space.
Please be aware that “Go to Bed” is not a correction and never a punishment. For puppies, as well as humans, bed is definitely a good place! It should only be used to tell your puppy to be out of the way. As with all commands, “Go to Bed” should be given happily and positively, with an undertone of firmness.
You decide where Ursula’s “Go to Bed” place will be. It could be her kennel or a dog bed or rug in a quiet corner of any room in your house that you choose. Place the kennel, bed, or rug where you want it before beginning the training, so your puppy has an actual “place” to be. Laying a rug, towel, or dog bed down will help Ursula understand what you mean and where you want her to physically be. At first, start with one spot so as not to confuse your puppy.
Have your puppy focused on you, on a leash, and have a treat in hand. Say “Ursula, Go to Bed,” while leading her to her bed. As you approach the bed, repeat “Ursula, Go to Bed.”
When she is situated where you want her, tell her “Down” and then “Stay.” Now is the time to praise with a “Yes!” and give her a treat. However, you want to keep your praise a bit subdued so your puppy will stay in her bed, not get up because she is excited. Calm petting and a soft, happy “Good Go to Bed” will help keep Ursula wanting to stay right there.
Repeat “Go to Bed” and “Stay” as you calmly walk away from your puppy on her bed, watching her out of the corner of your eye. After a few minutes, and before Ursula gets up, return to her, reminding her to “Stay” as you approach. Praise and treat again while repeating “Good Go to Bed.” In the beginning, you will need to return to your puppy to release her after only a minute or two. You can gradually lengthen the amount of time before you return.
If Ursula does get up, immediately say “No.” Return her to her bed with “Ursula, Go to Bed,” repeating Steps 2, 3, and 4.
When Ursula seems to be getting the idea, you can take off the leash and ask your puppy to “Go to Bed” on her own. You can point at Ursula’s bed to help her get the idea and get her on her way. To help your puppy enjoy the idea of going to bed, you can put a treat or two on her bed before asking her to “Go to Bed” to find when she gets there. A bone or toy can also make “Go to Bed” an enjoyable place for Ursula.
Your puppy could have a “bed” in every room of your house if you wish. Once Ursula has mastered the “Go to Bed” command on the first bed, begin again with a different bed in a different room, using the same steps. Leaving a treat, bone, or toy on or near the bed prior to giving the command will help her quickly locate her spot in any room and will help her to be content and happy to be there, too.
Whether it is because Ursula is underfoot or because there is too much activity for her, the “Go to Bed” command should mean peace and safety in a designated spot for her. This will allow you to turn your attention fully to your task, and you will not have to worry about Ursula being underfoot (for a little while anyway).
Last week's lesson: How to Teach Your Dog to "Shake"
Next week's lesson: Teach Your Dog the "Speak" and "Quiet" Commands
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All training tips in this series are from ECAD (Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities), a non-profit organization dedicated to training service dogs for veterans with disabilities. Learn more about ECAD.