Reinforcing On-The-Bed Etiquette? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-20-2012, 05:16 PM Thread Starter
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Reinforcing On-The-Bed Etiquette?

We started letting Kaiser sleep at the foot of the bed at about 4 months to round out his housebreaking. He wouldn't jump off the bed and would wake us up 100% when he needed to go out, instead of copping out and going on the floor. He knew how to wake us up at night, but a couple times a week he'd just lose his puppy mind and get lazy. Forcing him to have to wake us up solved the problem.

He's 7 months now, and he's been the perfect little footwarmer. He waits to get on the bed until he's invited up. He asks permission by resting his chin or a paw on the bed. Once he jumps up he has a snuggle and goes to lay at the end of the bed for the night. Every once in a while he tries to settle on our pillows, but it's never taken more than a quick "ah ah" and a finger point to send him back where he belongs. In the mornings when we get up, he's off the bed until that night. Never shown any interest otherwise.

Enter the teenage butthead phase, I guess, because for the past two mornings he's decided to go back to bed, right after his last pee break before I leave for work, with wet muddy paws on our mostly white pillowcases (we now have the cleanest sheets in the neighborhood, washing every day!). He doesn't listen to the "off" command, he digs in and resists when I try to drag him off by the collar, etc. There's no growling, barking, dominance, whatever. This morning he did a play bow and his excited happy pre-zoomies jump when I tried to move him. IMO he's trying to see what he can get away with.

We start formal obedience classes at a regional training club in two weeks, but until then how should we reinforce bed manners? Treats when he gets off, good dog, have a party vs "Get the crap off the bed, you little monster..." because he knows better vs puppy sleeps in his kennel or on the floor until he stops being a butthead?

We've only used positive reinforcement to train him so far, but he figured out super fast to fake having to pee to get a treat. i.e.: Whine whine, paw at the door, pace...we let him down the steps, jump in the grass, run up the steps, go sit by the fridge for a treat, attempt to repeat 400 times a day. Pretty sure he'll purposefully start jumping on the bed MORE, so he can jump off, so he can get a treat, if we go the treat-praise-party route. Will he still get the message with just plain "No, off the bed." with no reward for doing so?
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-21-2012, 09:08 AM
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Does he have his own bed? All of my dogs have thier own beds in my bedroom. I allow my dogs on the bed when invited and they must get off if I tell them so. Lakota is the only one that has pushed the envelope so to speak. She loves to lay on the bed. When we go to bed at night everyone goes to their own bed. Normally when my husband gets up in the morning Lakota jumps in his spot. Thats fine, but she's been jumping up in the middle of the night now. As long as she lays still I don't mind but she has to lay almost on top of me. I can handle that but sometimes she flops her body around like a fish, thats when I make her get off the bed.
They really don't get the muddy paw thing so you have to close the door to avoid that for now. There were times I'd have to remove her from the bed several times. I never used treats for the bed thing, I think you would create a game that way. In my house I say "Off" and if they dont I assist with the collar or in the middle of the night she'll get pushed off.
Last night I woke up around 3 to see both Lakota and our little cat at the foot of the bed curled up together, I wished I had the camera, oh well. As I climbed back into bed I tried to be carefull not to disturb them

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-21-2012, 08:44 PM
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I think that telling him to get off the bed when he's rude, combined with letting him sleep on the bed when he's polite, is the way to go.

I think you may want to reframe this in your own mind. Him sleeping on the floor isn't a punishment; he always has the option to sleep on the bed. It's just that his options are "sleep nicely at the foot of the bed" or "sleep elsewhere." If he won't take the first option, he's choosing the second one.

As a trainer, you want to make the wanted behavior the easiest one for your dog. That's all this is. The wanted behavior is him sleeping politely at the foot of the bed. So, if he doesn't do that, then you matter-of-factly get him off the bed. That's it--politeness at your feet, or no bed. He can choose which he prefers.

IMO, this is still positive training. There's no punishment here, just boundaries. I've done this with my own GSD (who will literally sleep on my pillow curled around my head if I let him--of course I don't) and he responded very well.

Just a note, you may want to introduce these new rules on a weekend or something, because it may take a few "get off the bed" incidents for your dog to learn them. Be prepared for a couple of nights with less-than-perfect sleep, though IME it straightens out quickly if you stick to your guns.

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-21-2012, 08:51 PM
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Mine wait for me to get everything ready then they come up on the bed with me...we have the same routine every night. When I tell them to move or off they do so and I've never had a problem. I will admit its very rare I tell them to move and generally they don't have an interest in the bed unless I'm in it or in the room. In your case I think I would start by blocking off access to that room when he's all muddy. After his paws are wiped, tell him to sit/wait by the door, then let him on the bed, then tell him off, then treat when he does. It sounds like he is in complete play mode and thinks its playtime...don't they all when we don't want them too? He probably should be in a calm state when you work with him..then that will lead to working with him when he's in the excited state.

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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-22-2012, 12:22 AM
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what butthead stage? you taught him it's ok to be on the bed.
now teach him to get off the bed on command.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-22-2012, 01:42 PM
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It sounds like you need to work on "off". He's a teenager and usually what I'd say is when they start to act like they forgot their training, go back to basics, treat him like he was a little puppy and does not know "off".
You may have to take away bed privileges for a while until he is responding promptly to "off".

Another option is teach him not to get on the bed without permission, to avoid him jumping up himself multiple times in order to get a reward for "off". In other words, no bed unless you give the cue. You train the cue to get on the bed and then work on off in conjunction with that, so he is only getting a reward (in the training phase) when you have told him to get on and then off. You can get a leash and lead him off if he gets up without permission-- no cue, no reward.

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Last edited by Chicagocanine; 12-22-2012 at 01:47 PM.
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