Posted on Jul 19, 2023, 3 p.m.
Should your doggie sleep in the same bed as you? This is a long-standing debate, the technical medical answer is probably not, but many pet homes could care less about that. In many homes, the family doggie is more than just a pet and they rule the house, which includes sleeping in the bed with their people. Still, from a strictly medical standpoint, it may not be the best idea.
There are various pros and cons to letting your doggie sleep in the bed with you, and let's be honest, for most dog owners the pros win, even though most veterinarians do not support this habit. While creating this article I called around to 10 local veterinarian offices and could not find even one that supported pet co-sleeping. When you actually make a list, the cons/risks might even outweigh the pros/benefits, depending on the dog and your preferences. It comes down to choice, and there is nothing to be ashamed of in either case.
There are many claims as to why it is good for your dog to sleep with you, and throughout history, people have always co-slept with their dogs.
- Some people suggest that sleeping in the same bed can create a comforting routine, and helps to prevent both you and your dog from feeling scared or lonely.
- Having a pet has physical and mental health benefits, as such it is suggested that co-sleeping increases the amount of time spent together which could potentially increase the associated benefits.
- The habit can help to ease anxiety and stress by promoting a calm and soothing presence at bedtime.
- Sleeping in the same bed helps to develop loyalty and strengthens bonding.
- During sleep, you both are more vulnerable, as such co-sleeping increases trust and confidence in each other.
- Dogs are like alarm systems and will alert you to any danger faster, providing a feeling of safety and security.
- Sleeping in the same bed keeps your dog from roaming freely around the house and out of trouble.
- You will both sleep deeper and longer knowing that the other is sleeping, and the doggie will develop your sleep pattern.
- Your dog is a social pack animal that wants to be with you at all times, sleeping with you will make them more happy because it keeps them with you as much as possible.
- Snuggles are bonding and you can keep each other warm on cold nights.
- There’s nothing better than waking up to a tail-wagging happy dog face.
While there are real health benefits associated with pet ownership, for the most part, these claims are not supported by much data, and they do not provide a full picture of the issues at hand. One study shows that having one pet in your bedroom doesn’t disrupt sleep, but allowing the pet to sleep in the bed is disruptive.
- Dogs that are already displaying signs of disobedience and dominance should sleep in a kennel or dog bed, sleeping in your bed with you can make behavioral problems worse or cause problems where there were none. Dogs need leadership, keeping your dog out of your bed establishes your dominance and avoids possible aggression in sleeping areas.
- Some people don’t let their dogs sleep with them for personal reasons, such as light sleepers being disturbed by their dogs rolling around, kicking, scratching, licking, or snoring loudly a lot. The size of the dog is another factor whether it be big or tiny.
- Infectious diseases are a hazard that can’t be ignored either, as dogs often eat or step in feces which could transmit bacteria or parasites to you. In fact, it is probably safe to assume your dog carries some sort of bacteria just by stepping in it, no matter how clean you keep it.
- Those with allergies or asthma could experience worse symptoms when dog fur and dander get into their bed as well.
- Dogs can be like a fluffy hot water bottle and put off a lot of heat
- It is not a good idea to let a very young or very old dog sleep in your bed because you could roll over them and cause unintentional harm.
- It is not wise to let a dog sleep in your bed that is not potty trained or a dog that is very dominant in marking its territory.
- It is not recommended to let your dog sleep in your bed if it has not been vaccinated.
Most veterinarians will recommend that you do not let your dog sleep in your bed, but for those who insist on it, you can still share a bedroom without sharing a bed by following a few steps.
- Purchase a nice comfortable bed for your dog, place it next to your bed to lessen the shock of change, and make the change from your bed to its new bed slowly to ensure a smooth transition.
- Use a leash to train your dog to stay off of the bed, and use the word “off.” Your dog will learn through repetition to stay off of your bed and use its own bed. Bring your dog into the bedroom at night with a leash, when they jump onto the bed gently pull/lead them off the bed while saying “off:” when they are down tell the dog to sit and praise your doggie with positive reinforcement.
- When you are done encouraging your dog in the first step, lead it to its new bed, have them lie down, and praise them again. You could even use the word “bed” when they are laying down in their bed. In addition to praising the dog with positive reinforcement, this might be a good time to give your doggie a treat as a food motivation reward. Keep in mind that excessive treat feeding can cause weight gain and encourages whining and begging.
In most cases, your doggie will begin sleeping in their own bed regularly fairly quickly. You will even be able to move their bed to another area of your bedroom or house with ease eventually if you choose to do so. Consistency in any training is crucial, and most dogs will respond to this gentle training, if your dog doesn’t you may need to consider hiring professional help.
Some people don’t look at pet co-sleeping in the best light, but I think that those of us that share our beds with our dogs understand that a nighttime of snuggles is fantastic. I myself let my little doggie sleep in the bed with me occasionally but for the majority of the time she sleeps in her massive crate which doubles as a piece of furniture (corner table) within clear sight of my room. I admit to spoiling my dog, so her crate is meant for a much larger dog so she will have lots of room to roll around, and it has a big soft bed for her to sleep in, or she can choose to sleep on the mat outside of her crate in the ample room if she chooses to do so. She actually has 5 little beds in various places around the house, but she likes her crate and often goes there on her own to take a power nap. I do like sleeping with my dog every now and then, but I am a light sleeper and I am also concerned about causing unintentional harm due to her small size. Additionally, she is my constant shadow, sleeping separately gives us at least a little alone time.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
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Image Credit: Tamsyn Webber at WHN
Doggie Model: Instagram @adorables_the dorbshavanese