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Getting the dog out of the Bedroom

Most people are aware that allowing a dog to sleep in the owner’s bedroom is not a good idea. We are all aware that doing so may well create many problems and yet we know people do allow dogs to do this and they never had any problems. This begs the question as to what is the truth.

The other week I received the following e-mail.

Hi Alan,
We have a young German shepherd that we have had from nine weeks of age. We did try to keep him out of our bedroom but as we live in a block of flats his howling and barking was annoying us as well as our neighbours. We tried to keep him out of the room but as well as howling and barking, he now is destroying our bedroom door.

Only letting him into our bedroom quietens him but a few days ago, my partner took hold of his collar and tried to drag him out of the bedroom when he bit my partner’s wrist. Now even just telling to get out he is growling at both of us.

Please where are we going wrong?

I have many emails with many differing reasons as to why owners still allow their dog to sleep in their bedroom and no matter what they do, they cannot get them out. One regular question asked by owners is “Is it necessary to do this.”

First, we do not know the future so keeping dogs out of all bedrooms is simply a precaution. Dogs that have a drive to increase their position in the family hierarchy will often try to sleep in the master bedroom. We do have cases of dogs that think they are the Alpha males so where ever they sleep becomes the master bedroom and it is they who actually control the owners.

Whilst allowing dogs into the bedroom may well have started as a way of keeping a new puppy quiet at night or owners felt such a lovely little puppy should not have to sleep on its own having just be taken away from its litter family, allowing it to do so can be a costly mistake.

There are many cases where dominant dogs have attacked the male owner to keep him out of the matrimonial bed as their dog demands to take on the Alpha male role in the family pack. It may well seem funny seeing a puppy protecting the wife from her husband but when the dog becomes older; such attacks do a lot of damage.

We also find such dogs see the family children sleeping in other rooms are lesser than the dog and often when the dog is trained using enforcement methods the dog feels it can keep these small versions of humans under control using painful methods of its own.

Very often, I receive emails regarding other problems like pulling the owner whilst on the lead or property and personal protection. So often, these link to problems of lack of leadership abilities of the owners and yes one of my questions is always where does the dog sleep.

In looking at litters of puppies, the question that is so necessary is which puppies are not dominant. In any litter, you may find a timid puppy and one or two puppies that are very dominant even at seven to eight weeks of age.

For most family pets, you should avoid such dogs at all costs. There is no point in starting with a potential problem. Leave such puppies to people who know how to handle them. They well may be cute now but such dogs with the wrong owners keep me in business.

Ok, so why do some owners have dogs sleeping with them either in their bedroom or even on their bed. In most cases, this is easy to answer. Very often, a dog sleeps with the owner and even if the dog is dominant, the owner has the skills to be the Alpha leader and does not stand for any bad behaviour from their dog.

Some dogs have no interest in any status within the hierarchy and are quiet happy so long as the family caters for all their doggy needs. Such dogs are often those dogs within a litter that are neither timid nor dominant.

Most breeders are becoming more fully aware of the need for socialisation and aware of certain breed problems. Now by selective breeding they have successfully changed working or difficult breeds into those more suitable as family pets.

All I can say is train your puppies to keep out of your bedroom. Do not be too fussy as to where they sleep so long as it not with you. Try to bring away a blanket from the litter so they can smell their brothers and sisters. Place a warm water bottle and old cushions to mimic other puppy bodies and add some old clothes that have the owners scent on them. Place these where you think your puppy would like to sleep even if it is on the landing or in the corridor outside the bedroom. Where they sleep, you can change later. Please remember if you choose the kitchen, it has all sorts of equipment like the fridge boiler or washing machine; noises the puppy may have never heard before that you have become accustomed to but you do not notice. Such noises could very well frighten your new puppy.

If they do try to come into the bedroom at any time during the first day, as soon as the puppy crosses the threshold say gruffly, Out, Out, Out. Take the puppy out of the room just over the threshold and return to the bed. You can be certain your puppy will follow you. Immediately again with the Out, Out, Out put the puppy outside the door. DO NOT close the door. Doors are barriers that the puppy will attack to get to you. Wolves in the forest do not have doors to stop other wolves sleeping with the Alphas so why should we.

You have to keep lifting the puppy beyond the door and as soon as you see them try to cross back in, then again with the Out, Out, Out and lift them back outside. Once outside tell them they are good in a happy manner. I know this often encourages them to come back in but that is from a mistake in another part of puppy training.

Eventually as you rush towards your incoming puppy say Out, Out, Out and it will by the genetic rules of survival turn and back away out of the room. Once outside say they are good and they will head right back in again.

You must persevere, as you will find the puppy will stop for a while before coming back in and gradually this time will become longer and longer until it gives up. It may well try again but eventually it will stop trying to get in. It will not whine or bark because there is no obstacle of a door baring its way, so that it needs to tell you it is here and wants to be with you. Because it can see you, it stays out quietly as that is your command.

With a puppy of eight weeks, it should only take you twenty minutes for the first lesson before it starts to sit at the doorway. Do this about four times during the first day before actually going to bed. Dogs that are older and already learned they could sleep with the owners, they take a little longer, but it does work and without noisy barking or any door destruction.

Sleep well.

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