Okay, let me level with you: most people don't like this lesson. They hate it. I used to introduce this early on, but people can be very resistant to kicking their pets out of bed. So now, more than halfway through, when you've learned and accepted how important changing habits is to better sleep, I asked you, please get your pets out of your bed.
Their moving around at night can wake you, and even if they don't move all night, they restrict you from moving freely, and can make it, so you don't sleep as deeply. “But, Jason,” you say, “Mittens always sleeps with me. I neeeeeed him there.” No, you don't.
Start training him to sleep off of your bed, or better yet, out of your room. This isn't going to be easy either. Your cat or dog or rabbit, whatever, wants to be in your bed; it's comfy. You are warm; it's nice in your bed, and they want to be there. So when you work to train them out of your bed, they will resist. They will fight this process like some toddlers: passionately and indignantly. You’ll want to give in, but I encourage you to keep with it. In time they'll be fine with the new arrangement, and you'll sleep so much better. Pet experts also suggest that your pet ultimately sleeps better this way, too.
So how do you do this? I can't cover every possible pet. Doing a little research on your part may be necessary. But most pets that are in people's beds are either cats or dogs. I offer you the following tips for them.
Number 1: Get a cat or a dog bed. If they have their own designated place, they will learn this is their place to sleep.
Number 2: Make them use it. You can do this as gradually or as immediately as you want. You can start off with their bed on yours, encouraging them to lay on the pet bed. Once they acclimate to that, move it to the floor beside your bed.
Number 3: Teach them no or down if they jump back on the bed. Once they get used to sleeping on their bed on the floor, they start moving their bed towards the door.
Number 4: Get them out of your room. Put their bed outside your bedroom, and shut the door if needed.
Number 5: Ignore their protest as best as possible. Don't let them train you to accommodate them when they complain. In time they will accept their new sleeping ritual and not bother you.
Some tips to make the transition easier:
- Walk or exercise them before bedtime. If they are worn out, they'll be more likely to lay down.
- Put a toy or treat in their bed. Their bed should be an appealing happy place for your pet.
- For cats, some catnip can be sprinkled in their bed.
- For barking dogs, a spray bottle can teach them to quiet down at night.
- For door-frame-scratching cats, a product called Soft Paws works wonders. It's basically a plastic cap that goes over their claws but does not hurt them. They were designed by a vet. I'm not an affiliate for Soft Paws. I just like their product.
- Praise your pet early and often for laying in their own bed.
So there you have it: great ways to train your pet out of your bed. Again this won't be easy or fun, and you'll probably lose a little sleep in the process. But my goodness, it is so worth it. Trust my first-hand experience.
The next lesson is entitled “The Light and the Darkness,” and will cover how light and darkness affect sleep. We touched on this briefly at the beginning of this course. Now we will dive in deeper. Until then, happy Zzz’s.