To non-dog owners, this might sound like a silly joke. Others might say, “Toss him a bone!” or “Just shove him off!”. But trying to shove a dog off his bed might just earn you a bite or two. Why? The answer is usually human-dog miscommunication.
So, when people approach their dogs and attempt to get them off the bed, it usually involves a lot of high-pitched, “Come on! Let’s go!”, followed by a lot of hand-clapping and leg-patting. There’s nothing wrong with this. In fact, this is how humans naturally communicate to each other. We speak in happy high-pitched tones and clap with our hands. (Ever watched a laughing baby? It's all squeals and claps!) These are universal human gestures for happiness, and we like to follow happy people. But, to dogs, it makes no sense at all! This is how they usually see us:
1. Food. Food is a universal training tool because all animals eat, and animals are hard-wired to enjoy their food. If you pair your approach with delicious food, the dog will learn to associate following you with pleasurable outcomes. This is the best long-term solution because the dog will learn to love following your directions. The key to using food is presenting it in non-threatening ways. This means using side-approaches and not towering above or in front of the dog. Start by giving small morsels of food while the dog is in his bed. Then, hold the food farther away from the bed so that the dog must stretch to reach it. Then, hold it slightly farther out so that the dog must get up. Keep doing this until the dog is up out of his bed. Over time, you should fade out the food and only reward once he is completely up and out of his bed.
2. Use a leash. A leash works for the same reason that food works. Dogs love putting on their leashes because they know it means exploring the outdoors, sniffing new things, and having a great time outside. If you present a dog with his leash, he will instantly change his emotion and become happier. Simply show the dog his leash, wait for him to move towards you (it’s important that you don’t force it upon him), and clip on the leash. This is a good short-term solution.
NOTE: Stressed animals will not eat. If your normally hungry hound is refusing food, s/he is probably too aroused or stressed to eat. Take a break and give the dog some space. Try to adjust your body language or have a peer watch your technique, and try again with improvements.