You can start training a puppy when he's a few weeks old. In general, the younger the dog the sooner he'll adjust to his sleeping arrangements. However, that doesn't mean you can't train an older dog too.
1. Gather Your Training Supplies
There's no use starting training without to the right supplies. Of course, you should already have a dog bed that's large enough for your dog. You’ll also need treats and a leash before you begin.
2. Pick the Right Time for Training
Bedtime isn't usually the best time for training. You'll both be tired and possibly hungry. Your training is far more likely to be successful if you choose a time during the day when your dog has been fed and well exercised.
3. Introduce the Bed in a Familiar Room
If your dog is familiar with the room in which he will sleep, go ahead and train in there. However, if it's a space he doesn't spend much time in, train him where he's comfortable first, which may be the kitchen, living room, or garage. Once you've placed the dog bed in this space, if your dog is reluctant to check it out, put on a leash and walk him over. Some dogs may ignore the dog bed while others will be ready to jump right on. Follow your dog’s cues during the first introduction. If he’s reluctant, make sure he takes a look and sniffs it before you end your session.
Dogs who are ready to go may skip this step and head straight to step four.
4. Start Training with Your Chosen Verbal Command
After your dog has been introduced to the dog bed, he's ready to start more serious training. With treats in hand, put on the leash and walk your dog over to the bed. If he doesn't get on the bed himself, lead him onto it, and say “go to your bed” (or whatever verbal command you plan to use) then put him into the lay position. When he complies, give him a treat. Repeat this process for 10 to 15 minutes, which is about the extent of your dog’s attention span. Puppy training sessions may need to be shorter.
5. Extend the Obedience Time
You can slowly start extending your dog’s obedience time. After you've given him the command to "go to bed" and he lays on the bed, make him stay in the lay position a little longer each time before you give him a treat.
6. Move the Dog Bed
Now that your dog is comfortable with the dog bed and knows what's expected of him, it's time to move the dog bed into the room in which your dog with sleep. Do a few training sessions in this room following steps four and five again until your dog isn’t distracted by the room itself.
7. Try it at Bedtime
Don't expect success the first time your dog attempts a night on the dog bed. If the dog bed is in your room, your dog may want to sleep on your bed, especially if that’s where he’s accustomed to sleeping. Be firm and consistent when you say "no, go to your bed." Repeat this process as long as is necessary. He'll soon learn what's expected of him.
With your dog trained and ready for sleep, everyone will be able to get the rest they need in a safe sleep environment.