If you are faced with this question and wonder why your dog does not care for the new bed you just purchased, do not despair. Your dog will love your gift and does share the same taste (pun not intended) in due time!
This is actually a very common issue with new pet beds and the answer is very simple. The new bed is simply “not THEIR bed… yet”. Unlike us humans who will jump into a brand new bed any chance we get, our four legged friends would much prefer something more familiar. This new foreign object (nice comfortable bed) is not part of their territory, does not smell like them, does not have your scent, nor has there been any positive association established to it to make it feel safe and comfortable. Unlike the old bed which smells like them and has been associated with them as their very own safe relaxing place that they know every single inch of.
To properly introduce a new dog bed, remove the old bed completely. Getting rid of the old bed (perhaps packed up inside the garage) will get it out of sight, scent and mind. This is an absolutely important first step as they will always prefer that old bed with the familiar scent and will not be able to break away from it. Don’t forget, your dog has a super nose that will be able to hunt down the old bed if you don’t hide or get rid of it completely away from the house.
Proper scent introduction of a new bed is also important. Try rubbing your scent or the scent of the “pack leader” all over the bed or even laying your old shirt or their old shirt over the bed to make it smell right. Failing that, use the dog’s own blanket to cover over the bed until they get used to the bed and feel “homey” and secure.
Associating the bed with positive aspects is another way to help them make their new bed “home”. For some dogs, this may be tummy rub time while on the bed; others maybe their favorite treats or playtime while on the bed. Place the new bed in the same location as the old bed or where they usually enjoy their afternoon naps. The idea is to create more positive association with the bed and rub more of their own scent onto the bed to start to make it feel their own. This may take a bit of time, but will slowly build into them getting on their bed and then eventually resting and sleeping on their bed peacefully. Just remember never to send them to their new bed as punishment.
If all else fails, remove the new bed from the sleeping area and try tricking them by bringing back the old bed and simply cover your dog’s old bed completely with a sheet or blanket. Let them continue to use the old covered bed until they get used to this, then swap the bed out with the new bed without them seeing you do it and cover the new bed completely with the used sheet or blanket. After a while, you can slowly work the sheet off the bed until they are comfortable with their fresh new bed. The idea is to trick them into not seeing it as a new bed, but also to make it smell just like their old dog bed.
Time and patience are the most important factors. All pets need time to adjust to new things; accept new things into their territory and get familiar with their new bed; which may take weeks for a dog to start using it daily, but make sure to give it plenty of time with each of the suggestions. There is no one way or right way and every single dog is different. Getting your dog to enjoy their new bed does not have to be a stressful event and can actually be a lot of fun if you make it that way.