Features March 2010 Issue

Should Your Dog Sleep on the Bed with You?

The dog who wants to sleep on your bed just wants to be close to his humansóand comfortable!

[Updated November 3, 2017]

Contrary to the strongly held opinion of some training and behavior professionals, I’m generally pretty comfortable with allowing canine family members on their humans’ beds. In our family, two of our five dogs sleep with my husband and me. Scooter, a Pomeranian, routinely sleeps with us; Dubhy, our Scottish Terrier, graces us with the privilege of his presence on our bed only from time to time.

Trainers who adamantly oppose dogs on the bed mostly fall into the old-fashioned training camp, and often, they also buy into all the dominance stuff that’s been pretty much discredited by behavioral scientists. Chances are good I would differ with them on many dog training and philosophical issues, not just this one. The dog who wants to sleep on your bed isn’t trying to take over the world. He just wants to be close to his humans -and comfortable!

dog on the bed

Why wouldn't your dog prefer your bed to any other place to sleep? It's probably warmer, softer, and more companionable than any other place in the house. If you choose to snooze without your dog, make sure he has an equally comfortable bed, as close to a responsible family member as possible.

That said, there are times when I agree that allowing your dog on your bed may be inappropriate. Three of our dogs sleep elsewhere, for various reasons. Our Cardigan Corgi, Lucy, sleeps shut in her crate in our bedroom to forestall her predilection for midnight cat-chasing forays. Scorgidoodle Bonnie is also crated at night; she can’t seem to reliably hold her bladder until morning when given house freedom overnight. Her intense snuggling and licking behaviors can also be annoying in the wee hours of the morning. Missy, our 11-year-old Aussie, sleeps on a magnetic dog bed next to ours; she has weak hindquarters due to a formerly broken pelvis (acquired long before joining our family) and can’t jump on and off of the bed.

So how do you decide if bed privileges are the right choice for your canine pal? There are a number of things to take into consideration.

Letting Your Dog on the Bed is YOUR Choice!

All other issues notwithstanding, if you prefer that your dog not sleep on the bed with you, the case is closed. It’s your choice, pure and simple, and not one you should have to defend to anyone. There may be a rare exception, but I can’t think of any reason why a dog should have to sleep on your bed.

Of course, if he’s accustomed to sleeping on his human’s bed and you abruptly evict him, he’s likely to tell you how he feels about it in no uncertain terms. You may have to do some behavior modification to convince him that other bedtime arrangements are acceptable alternatives, but that’s doable. If you want your dogs off the bed, the only real issue might be a human bed partner who prefers them on. I’m a dog behavior professional; I’ll leave this human conflict for you to sort out with your marriage counselor!

Should Your Dog Be in the Bedroom At All?

Some humans restrict their dogs’ presence from the bedroom altogether, citing reasons such as allergies, and being disturbed by nighttime scratching, licking, and other typical canine behavior.

Some dogs are perfectly comfortable and confident when sleeping in other parts of the house; others benefit greatly from the six to eight hours of social proximity to their humans, even though there’s not much actual interaction going on. Sleeping in the same room is a nice, usually easy way for your dog to be with you, especially if you are gone at work eight or more hours a day. A white noise machine can cover up a lot of minor nighttime dog noises.

There are actually some behavior problems that can be resolved by bringing your dog into someone’s bedroom, whether yours or that of a responsible child. I heard from an owner recently whose 8-year-old dog, who had always slept downstairs, started barking in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. Efforts to determine the reason for the dog’s barking were fruitless.

I suggested that the owner have the dog sleep in her bedroom at night. The dog now sleeps quietly all night on a dog bed next to the owner’s. Problem solved—and the owner tells me it delights her to be able to look over the edge of her bed and see her beloved dog sleeping peacefully there. She can’t for the life of her remember why her canine pal had to sleep downstairs for eight years.

Non-Aggressive Bed Behaviors You Want to Prevent

There are many non-aggressive yet annoying, disruptive, dangerous, or otherwise inappropriate behaviors your uncrated and unsupervised dog can do at night. Lucy’s cat-chasing and Bonnie’s peeing are just two examples. Others include chewing on electrical cords and other potentially hazardous materials, destroying treasured possessions, romping on and off the bed, and getting into cupboards—behaviors that are disruptive and dangerous enough to demand nighttime confinement. For this reason, I recommend crating dogs who haven’t yet learned house manners (and especially young pups) at night.

Aggressive Bed Behaviors

This is the big one. What do you do when your dog offers aggressive behaviors on the bed? Does it mean instant eviction? Not necessarily.

This is where trainers who strongly believe that most unwanted dog behaviors are related to dominance (I’ve heard them dubbed “alpha-holics”) are likely to tell you that your dog is trying to take over the world. They will say that allowing the dog on the bed gives him status and a physical height advantage, reinforcing his sense of being in control. This may contain some grains of truth, but by no means can it explain what is always going on.

There is a legitimate classification of aggression now often referred to as “status-related aggression,” in which a dog behaves in an aggressive manner rather than deferring appropriately to his human. Bed-related aggression is sometimes one manifestation of this.

If a client of mine has a dog with aggressive bed behaviors, I may suggest revoking his bed privileges, but I may not. If I do, it has nothing to do with forcefully establishing a social hierarchy, and far more to do with managing an unwanted behavior to prevent it from being reinforced while we work, non-aggressively, to modify it.

Which tactic I take depends on the dog, the level of aggression, and what’s motivating it. If it’s a classic case of owner-guarding—wife is in the bed, dog growls at husband when he tries to get in bed—then yes, bed privileges need to be revoked. (The dog’s, not the husband’s!) If the spouse being guarded is reluctant to remove the potential threat to the spouse trying to enter the bed, it’s time for another trip to that marriage counselor! I take the same approach if the dog is guarding his or her territory; the dog needs to be evicted unless and until the behavior can be modified.

Keep in mind that removing the dog from the bed doesn’t modify the bed-guarding behavior; it only prevents the dog from having an opportunity to practice the behavior. Some owners are fine with management alone, while others are committed to modifying the behavior in the hopes of reinstating the dog’s bed privileges.

Modifying your dog’s aggressive behavior is not a bad idea; there’s a good chance that the dog who guards the bed may also guard the sofa and other prime pieces of household real estate. Help him become more comfortable with humans, and work to reduce or eliminate his perceived need to behave in an aggressive manner. This will help keep you and any other humans he comes in contact with safe, and increases the odds that he’ll stay in your home—and that your relationship with your significant other will last! (See Modifying Bed/Owner Guarding, below.)

Years ago, a client in Santa Cruz, California, asked me to come to her home to address a bed-guarding problem with her Yorkshire Terrier. Once there, I realized that bed-guarding was the tip of the problem-behavior iceberg. The Yorkie and the husband had a seriously adversarial relationship; simply banning the dog from the bed wasn’t going to resolve it. The little dog growled at the husband if the man approached him on the sofa, and even if he was sitting on the man’s lap. To make matters worse, the husband refused to understand or accept that he needed to change his behavior in order to help the dog change his. The man seemed to enjoy taunting the dog.

The icing on the cake, however, was that the wife obviously took satisfaction in the fact that the Yorkie wouldn’t let the husband in the bed. This was clearly one for the marriage counselor. The little dog was eventually rehomed to a more suitable environment.

If the bed-aggressive behavior is not about guarding or protecting humans or territory, the prognosis is not so bleak. What’s driving the behavior? Can the cause—the antecedent of the behavior—be managed without booting the dog off the bed?

Fixing a Dog's Behavioral Problem While Maintaining Bed Privileges

When we adopted our Pomeranian bed-buddy, Scooter, he brought along a lot of behavioral baggage. He had failed his shelter assessment when he fiercely guarded a pig ear, so we knew about that one. We would quickly discover several more challenging behaviors.

dog on a dog bed

If you choose to have your dog sleep on his own bed, make sure itís one your dog enjoys. Donít scrimp! Get the thickest, most comfortable bed you can afford, and in a size that is large enough to accommodate your dogís preferred sleep style.

We tried crating him the first night and he screamed his furry little head off, despite the fact that he had happily entered and stayed in his crate earlier for part of the day. House freedom was out of the question; we didn’t know him well enough yet, we didn’t trust our bigger dogs with him without supervision, and although at age seven he was a mature adult dog, he had already demonstrated his inability to hold his bladder more than a couple of hours. (The quarter-sized bladder stone our vet removed a month later explained this phenomenon.) So we put Scooter on the bed.

One of Scooter’s early behavior challenges was stress-licking. Our new pint-sized pooch woke me up in the middle of the night, constantly licking his front paws. Sleepily, I reached down to gently push his face away from his feet and BAM! In an instant he snarled ferociously and bit my hand three times in rapid succession.

There was no blood. In fact, I never even felt the pressure of his teeth on my skin. Despite his ferocious threat display, the little guy had admirable bite inhibition. He didn’t want to hurt me, he just wanted me not to push on him. So I obliged; I’m a fast learner! And yes, he stayed on the bed.

Over the months since we adopted him almost a year ago we’ve worked to get him more comfortable with being touched, nudged, and picked up, using counter-conditioning to give him a positive association with those interactions. And we use management. If we need to move him from one spot to another or interrupt his licking (which has greatly decreased as his stress has diminished), rather than push, we simply lift the covers to slide him to a new spot.

If you are experiencing bed-related aggression, take the time to analyze what’s going on. If it’s a non-guarding behavior that can be managed, you can manage and live with it, or manage and modify. If it’s guarding, or some other aggression trigger that’s not easily managed, then “off the bed” is a wise step, at least until the behavior can be modified.

How to Revoke Your Dog's Bed Privileges††

Of course, moving your dog from your bed to his crate can present its own challenges, especially if he isn’t already crate-trained or if he already has a negative association with crating (see “Dog Crating Difficulties,”May 2005). If your dog doesn’t already love his crate, you’ll need to transition your dog to nighttime crating gradually. Alternatively, you could put him in an exercise pen or use a baby gate to keep him in a safe area as an interim solution—or even a long-term sleeping arrangement if you prefer not to crate.

Get him accustomed to his soon-to-be new sleeping location as a daytime game, by using treats, stuffed Kongs, and other delectables to convince him that wonderful things happen in the designated area.

Meanwhile, add a blanket to your own bed for him to sleep on while awaiting the transition to his new quarters. When you’re ready to make the move, transfer his blanket to his new sleeping spot as well, so he has the familiar sleeping association in his bedroom.

When he’s happy to hop into his new quarters and stay in for an hour or more without a fuss during the day, start sending him there at bedtime. The first time you do, be sure he’s had a very full day with lots of exercise, so he’s ready for a good night’s sleep.

Our dogs seem content with their sleeping arrangements. Oh sure, the three dogs who sleep elsewhere would probably rather be on the bed with us! But even without their nighttime behavior challenges, three is company, four is a small crowd. If you count the two or three cats who occasionally join us on the bed, several more dogs on the bed are simply out of the question.

Modifying a Dog's Bed- or Owner-Guarding

So you have a dog who guards the bed, or guards you on the bed. What next? You don’t necessarily have to prohibit him from ever getting on the bed (or other furniture), but you do need a way to peacefully remove him from furniture when you need him to get off. And ultimately you’d like him to peacefully accept people approaching the bed.

Note: Canine aggression is not something to play with. If the level of your dog’s growling or other bed-related aggression is intense; if you are trying to work with it and not making progress; or if someone is getting bitten, please seek the assistance of a qualified positive behavior professional. If you’re afraid of your dog’s behavior, don’t attempt any of the following without professional assistance.

•†Teach “Off"

To start, you can teach an operant cue to ask the dog to happily hop off the bed when asked. This is pretty simple. Say “Up!” to invite him on the bed. Lure him up if necessary. When he’s up, click and treat. Then say “Off!” and toss a tasty treat on the floor. When he jumps off to get it, click; he’ll get the treat off the floor himself, thank you very much. After several repetitions of this, start fading the lure, by giving the “Up” or “Off” cue and then waiting a few seconds to see if he does the requested behavior.

If he doesn’t, motion suggestively but don’t toss the treat on the floor or lure him on the bed. When he responds, click and treat. Gradually reduce the suggestive movement until he’s doing the “Up” and “Off” behavior on verbal cue only. Then you can start alternating other forms of reinforcement. If you click you must feed the treat, but occasionally you can skip the click and treat, just praising instead, or giving him a scratch behind the ear, or inviting him outside for a game of fetch.

•†Institute a “Say Please” program†

"Say please" simply means teaching your dog to "ask" for all the good things by sitting first. "Sit" is a deference behavior, and when your dog learns to sit for the first time, he learns to be more deferent. "Want a cookie?" Sit first. "Want to go outside?" Sit first. "Want your dinner bowl?" Sit first. "Want me to throw the ball?" Sit first. You get the idea.

If status is part of what’s motivating your dog’s aggression when he’s on your bed, convincing him to be voluntarily more deferent to you by sitting for good stuff can help modify his bed behavior. Of course, that alone won’t likely fix it; you’ll still need to do some modification work.

Read, "Is Your Dog Spoiled?" for further details.

• Apply a counter-conditioning protocol

Your dog growls at someone approaching the bed because something about that approach is stressful for him. If you can change his association with and his emotional response to the person approaching, he will change his behavior.

If he’s growling at you when he’s on the bed, arm yourself with a pouch full of very tasty treats. Canned chicken, rinsed and drained, is my preferred treat for counter-conditioning. With your dog on the bed, walk casually past and toss a few bits of chicken to him on the bed. You’re not asking him to get off in this exercise.

dog on bed

The situation may call for improved management, rather than training. For example, if itís okay with you for your dog to sleep with you at night, but you donít want her on the bed during the day, simply close your bedroom door so she canít get in!

If he growls at you anyway, walk past at a greater distance, and toss chicken. Do not make eye contact with him. Continue to walk back and forth past the bed, tossing chicken each time you pass, until your dog is happily anticipating your pass-bys because he knows chicken is coming. Then gradually decrease the distance between you and the bed.

Assuming he’s still making happy faces as you pass, start making your approaches more direct, until you can walk right up to him and get a happy “Where’s my chicken?” response. You have eliminated his negative stress association to your approach, and replaced his aggression with eager anticipation, as he has come to realize that your approach makes chicken appear.

If he’s growling at someone else approaching you in the bed, again, arm yourself with chicken. Ask your partner to stand at a distance where the dog sees him but isn’t growling. That may mean totally out of the bedroom! Have your partner take one step toward you, and immediately start feeding chicken to your dog; don’t wait for a growl.

After tossing several bits of chicken, have your partner step back, and simultaneously stop feeding the chicken to your dog. Repeat this process until your dog looks happy -and looks to you for chicken -every time your partner takes one step forward. Then, with your partner at the same starting spot, have him take two steps forward. Repeat until your partner can approach the bed without any sign of tension from your dog. Then have your partner do the walk-by chicken-tossing procedure described above.

•†Consider using operant conditioning

Another option is to use operant conditioning to teach your dog a new behavior when someone approaches the bed; the goal of changing his emotional response will follow his behavior change. This procedure has been dubbed “Constructional Aggression Treatment,” or CAT (see “Modifying Aggressive Dog Behavior,” May 2008, and “Constructional Aggression Treatment,” December 2009). If you decide you want to try this approach, I urge you to work with someone who is skilled at reading dog body language and understands the CAT procedure; its success depends on the observer’s ability to identify very small changes in your dog’s body language.

In this process, you move toward your dog on the bed. As soon as you see any small sign of tension in your dog, stop and just stand still. Wait there until you see any small sign of relaxation, then move away. As you repeat the procedure, your dog learns that being relaxed makes you go away, so he becomes more and more relaxed. As his behavior changes and he becomes deliberately relaxed, the change in his emotional response follows.

It can work, but it can be a little tricky to see the changes in your dog’s body language. You definitely need an accomplished helper for this one.

Meanwhile, what do you do when your dog, ensconced on your bed, growls at you or your bed partner? Calmly stop, stand still, wait until he relaxes a little, and then stop doing whatever it was that elicited the growl. If you were touching him, stop touching him, and make a mental note to start counter-conditioning him to love being touched. If you were approaching the bed, invite him off with his “Off!” cue to defuse the current situation, and then start putting together a management and behavior modification plan.

There’s absolutely nothing to be gained by aggressing back at your dog with verbal or physical punishment when he growls at you. That’s so important I’ll say it again: Do not punish your dog for growling. Punishment is likely to make his behavior worse, because your aggression will add to his stress. It’s your job, as the one with the bigger brain, to figure out how to remove the stress from the situation for him. (See “Understand Why Your Dog Growls,” WDJ October 2005.)


1. Decide whether sleeping on the bed is appropriate for your dog and your domestic situation.

2. If not, help your dog learn to love his alternate sleeping arrangements.

3. If you want your dog on the bed but he has "issues," take appropriate management and modification steps to help him become a good bed buddy (described below).

4. Refrain from “fighting fire with fire.” If your dog growls at you for trying to remove him from the bed, calmly defuse the situation without verbal or physical punishment.

Night, night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed dogs bite.

Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, is WDJ’s Training Editor. Miller lives in Fairplay, Maryland, site of her†Peaceable Paws†training center. Pat is also author of The Power of Positive Dog Training; Positive Perspectives: Love Your Dog, Train Your Dog; Positive Perspectives II: Know Your Dog, Train Your Dog; and Play with Your Dog.

Comments (29)

I have an awesome St. Bernard, Madison Anne Rose, who sleeps with her Mom.
She is large at 210 lbs., but she sleeps on top of the covers on her side of a king size bed, just like a human. Sleeps on her side with her head on the pillow all night. She gets on and off the bed so gently that I am unaware and rarely slips over onto my side. She is always welcome even the times she slips over. We started this when she was 10 weeks old and she is now 7 years old. For us, this is normal, and I wouldn't want to change it.

Posted by: wayne roberts | September 30, 2018 11:33 PM    Report this comment

I let my twin Malt-Tzu pups sleep with me (with no behavior problems) until disaster struck when they were 11 years old. One day, right in front of my eyes, Sunshine jumped down and I watched as her right leg buckled under her. She had torn her CCL (known as ACL in humans) and could only walk on three legs. The cost of surgery was quoted at US$8,000. I postponed my decision because I was facing surgery myself and knew I would not be able to provide post-op care.
Three months later the same thing happened to her other leg, again right in front of my eyes. Now she couldn't walk. I shopped around and got a two-for-one price on the surgery for less than the original quote. She recovered well. But I had to retrain both of them to avoid jumping up to places where they might try to jump down. They slept in crates or cushions next to my bed.
*It turned out that Sunshine was vulnerable because she was developing Cushing's disease; torn CCL is sometimes a precursor. The disease killed her a year and $15,000 later.)
In the meantime, back to early 2016, just as Sunshine was completing her post-op treatments, her sister Snow jumped down from an easy chair and injured her spine at the point between the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae. She was totally paralyzed from the waist down. Surgery would be a minimum of US$10,000 with no promise of success. In her case I was lucky because I took her to an alternative vet who restored her mobility with acupuncture, massage, VOM, and other treatments. About half as expensive as the surgery but fully successful. Not sleeping with my dogs and not letting them jump up definitely changed my relationship with them. We didn't get to cuddle as before. But the alternative was out of the question.

Posted by: muriel33 | September 30, 2018 10:29 PM    Report this comment

We are on golden retriever number 4, and she is the only one who loves sleeping on the bed iwth us, all night long. We love having her with us, so she can sleep anywhere on the bed she wishes - we all sleep better for it! She is clean, well-groomed, and we brush her daily. Sleeping without her? No way!

Posted by: dogwoman | September 30, 2018 3:37 PM    Report this comment

My dog sleeps with me and sometimes she leaks urine. I tried a few so-called waterproof blankets and found the best one is made by Mambe Blanket Co. I have two blankets and alternate while one is in the wash. Yes, they are expensive, but they are truly waterproof and washable.

Posted by: Peggie | September 30, 2018 1:48 PM    Report this comment

My pups have always slept with me. Zero regrets. Even puppies. When I rescued a stray who turned out to be pregnant...I became midwife...once puppies were born, the box for the puppies was taken upstairs to the bedroom and placed on the bed at night. Mom would alternate going in the box with them and sleeping beside them with me. Would never not sleep with them; and if health issues arise that making climbing up a challenge, I have carpeted bed steps that are very wide and sturdy. They also make low-profile box springs so the bed doesn't have to be as high.

Posted by: robin r | September 30, 2018 11:09 AM    Report this comment

We adopted our Shih-tzu ďRascalĒ when he was a baby a year prior to my retirement. When he was reliably pad trained at 6 months (with my wifeís hard work), he joined us in the bed. Because he wonít jump off the bed, when the occasional need arises he wakes me up with kisses on my ear and we make the trip to the pad. With me being on blood thinner and constantly being cold I welcome him cuddling as we keep each other warm. In the morning when he thinks we are awake, he goes to my wife first and then me. He will be 6 this December and is our constant companion.

Posted by: Rascalsdad | September 30, 2018 11:09 AM    Report this comment

Wow! What a great article, including training tips in general, which can be applied in different situations. One time I read that dog's behaviors (which are expressed through their personalities) are based on the role they would (or would've) played in a pack situation. Having 2 dogs who lived together for awhile (but the first one is now gone) made this clear. He was a survivalist (with an only "me" attitude). If there was food, he'd find it. He would lead every other dog in the world, to finding a source of food. His food drive was so strong (I believe) he snacked on the very last day of his life! The plus side was that he would do anything for food. Therefore he was a people- pleaser (actually a benign manipulator). Which made him amenable to all kinds of shaping. He loved being trained, which meant food reward. He was a devoted companion and shared comfortable places, only wanting a sense of comfort and human security. My second dog (by contrast) would be (or would've been) the "Security Agent" for the entire pack. He's not mean or aggressive with other dogs, but rather a team player, who's sole job in dog life is to "protect" through the means of "alerting!" If he saw an ant intruding where it didn't belong, then that would be enough to bark all about it. Until I come to the rescue. Wild Turkeys (in our yard and in the neighborhood) are his arch enemy. But he will happily co-habitate with dogs & cats. Point being, is he's ALWAYS on the lookout, and doesn't relax very much even while sleeping. Almost with one eye open. He'll sleep on the rug, between me and doorways. I can't get him to snuggle in a dog bed, or snuggle under covers. But he will stretch across my lap while we watch TV. A form of guardsmanship. However, I make it clear, which place is mine, and which place is his. And that's because (by nature) he's a pushy, independent minded, I'll think about it, kind of dog. He's Prey (rather than food) oriented, which is his motivation. What pleases him, rather than necessarily filling his belly. Although chicken (fowl) is a VERY, very high value incentive. He'll take the treat, and refocus on the prey. That's just instinct. Because Poodles are a sporting breed, which can also be trained to retrieve water fowl. The point of all this, is to understand your own dog's mindset. What makes him/her tick. Which means, being able to stay one step ahead of the dog, so you're managing the household in a way that serves your best interest. This isn't about being the "Alpha" (dominance or not) but (is instead) about maintaining a position of respect. Which expects cooperation & compliance, so you can shape your dog's behavior. Doing so, ultimately will be for his safety and the peace of others!

Posted by: Pacificsun | September 30, 2018 11:08 AM    Report this comment

@ dogs_outside:

I wash my dog's feet, face and belly AS SOON as I get in the house with him after we come in from a walk. I don't like outdoor shoes on my floors so I don't like mucky paws that have been on the street on my floors either.

I walk barefoot inside my house or wear slippers in the winter - my visitors are encouraged to change into slippers when coming in and if they refuse that means I have to mop all the floors as soon as they leave so I tend to not invite such people over very often (if no shoes are brought in I only have to mop once or twice a week so I save a lot of housework this way).

I think it's disgusting and unhygienic to wear street shoes inside your house, especially since the dog must then lie down on the floor and get covered in whatever you've walked in... Then you stroke your dog and get that dirt all over your hands... or worse, you kiss your dog's fur and get the dirt in your mouth...ugh...

I also do not wear street clothes in my house - I change into house clothes so that my sofas, chairs and bed covers are nice and clean. If you live in a city you'll understand knowing how dirty public transport and any other public seating area (e.g. waiting rooms) is.

I don't mind mud and natural wilderness dirt - it's the rotten rubbish, dog urine and feces, sewer leakage, human vomit, phlegm, urine, spilled petrol and motor oil, spilled alcohol, broken glass and god-knows-whatever-else is on the streets that disgusts me.

Living near a pub with morons that drink until they throw up, and piss in doorways despite just having walked out of a place with a functioning toilet doesn't help.

Posted by: Miss Cellany | September 25, 2015 4:45 PM    Report this comment

@ Rebecca Danes:

Just because your dogs do not understand the difference between your uncles sofa and your sofa doesn't mean all dogs can't grasp this concept.

Some dogs are smarter than others - no offense but Great Danes are not known for being exceptionally smart so in your case I don't doubt that your dogs cannot learn the difference.

My border collie is allowed on my bed and my mother's sofa, but he won't get on any other bed or sofa without first being invited (it was my mother that had to invite him onto her sofa - he knows it's her house and he wouldn't take the invitation from me). I can take him to anyone's house and he'll stay on the floor unless invited up.

He'll also not walk into kitchens unless invited, and when invited in will go and sit out of the way somewhere (usually under the table).

He also knows which cars he's allowed to ride on the seats on i.e. the ones that have seat covers and normal fabric seats - not my mother's or father's cars which both have leather seats where he sits in the footwell unless I put a cover on them first.

I suspect any of the intelligent and biddable dog breeds could learn this, but the hound or molosser type dogs? Not so much.

Posted by: Miss Cellany | September 25, 2015 4:25 PM    Report this comment

It worries me for this reason.... Dogs do not know when a behaviour is OK...or not...
You can't allow a dog on your sofa then expect it to know that uncle whatever hates dogs so when he visit's you have to shout to stop them from doing what is normal to them....sitting on the sofa
You can't play fight let your dog mouth you yet expect him to know that he can't do that with a child.
Dogs need a place to call there own, somewhere that's safe and only they go, Dogs need to know exactly what the rules are BLACK AND WHITE not rules that change depending on what's happening. I own 2 well behaved great Danes and I don't mean to offend but my bed is for my partner and me I share everything else with them. People forget that dogs are at their best when allowed to be dogs not human babies

Posted by: Rebecca Danes | July 6, 2015 11:15 PM    Report this comment

My lab mix Teddy was with us almost 13 years. He was very smart and when we began to allow uncrated nights he learned quickly that he could be on the bed but not in our faces, on our pillows or "hogging the bed" for himself. He slept curled down by my feet for many years and also learned that grooming, licking or itching had to be done on the floor.

Posted by: EllenL | May 13, 2015 4:44 PM    Report this comment

Our first dog was a little yorkie and she slept with me until she was about 3 years old. She's like a heating pad and because she wanted to sleep right next to my skin, it was irritating and the heat made for me, sleepless nights. I made her a covered, cave bed and she feels safe there and sleeps through the night now. We both sleep better now.
The next year we got a puppy Doberman, Roscoe. My spouses dog and typical to his breed, he velcored his existence to my hubby! My spouse let this 40lb, 4 month old puppy sleep with him! I knew it would be a problem for them to manage that in a few month when he grew to 70-80lbs so I warned my spouse! Our king size bed is actually 2 twins because they're those adjustable type of beds with separate control. As this puppy grew he was sleeping with me on my side of the bed. This made my yorkie want to sleep with me again to! I wasn't getting any sleep, but my spouse, sleep apnea machine on, was obviouse to it all and soundly slept! So I just separated my bed and now he sleeps with his big dog on top of him mostly! My yorkie likes to sleep, in disturbed in her own bed once again! Not ideal, but it's harder to train my husband! lol

Posted by: jkj92200 | May 13, 2015 8:53 AM    Report this comment

I have a 2yr old golden/husky mix and everytime I lay on my bed, my dog is not far behind. And if I leave so does she and lays in her dog bed. To sum it up, she is my personal shadow and follows me everywhere. Should I stop this or is this acceptable behavior? I'm a housewife so I'm here at the house with her all the time.

Posted by: kathlena | March 2, 2015 5:23 PM    Report this comment

If you let your dog sleep on or in the bed, do you wash him/his feet after he has come from outside? What is the norm with this? I wouldn't want a human who was walking outside in their bare feet, sleeping in the bed.

Posted by: dogs_outside | November 2, 2014 10:20 PM    Report this comment

Ziggy's separation anxiety (he was rehomed 8 months ago and barks when I leave for more than a few minutes at a time) is REMARKABLY better when he sleeps in his own bed in my room at night. This has been the most effective intervention -- beyond training, relaxing supplements, exercise, music and/or mental stimulation. We still use these other interventions but there is something about sleeping in his own bed that has helped him turn the corner.

Posted by: Ziggy0515 | October 29, 2014 3:26 PM    Report this comment

I'm trying to figure out what the compromise is when the dogs can be annoying, and the shedding annoying, and one dog is spay incontinent and occasionally has accidents, but you still LOVE having them snuggle with you on the bed in the evening before sending them off to SLEEP elsewhere -- but your human partner cannot tolerate the shedding and occasional accidents and decides the bed is off limits all the time. Is there a middle ground? I can't find one. I'm open to suggestions ...

Posted by: Emm | October 28, 2014 8:03 PM    Report this comment

My dog, Lucky, a 20 lb. terrier mix used to sneak up on the bed at night. He obviously wanted to be close to us. However, with my arthritic knees I couldn't stand having him cramp my sleeping position. So we devised a plan to keep him below my feet. At that time we had a sleigh bed with the bedposts pointed outward. I would remove his collar and then place it on the bed and instruct him to hang it on the bedpost. His reward was a treat and the right to sleep at the foot of the bed near his collar. He soon caught on to the trick of looping the collar over the bedpost and we both enjoyed this nightly ritual. If he sneaked up higher than my ankles at night I silently put him off the bed. He caught on to that quickly too. Our Lola loves to get up on the bed for a good night kiss and some cuddles but prefers sleeping in her own bed under ours but needs to be tucked in under a blanket, thank you very much.

Posted by: Missbehavior | September 30, 2014 9:56 AM    Report this comment

I like having the security of a dog roaming the house at night, so if they come and go from our bed, that is fine. The only dog I ever strongly insisted to sleep with us was our terrier mix who had frequent seizures at night. I could grab him and comfort him without having to search the whole house in the dark.

Posted by: Pisces51 | September 21, 2014 4:23 PM    Report this comment

Should I really throw canned chicken on my sheets? I don't think I would like to crawl into that after the training session....

Posted by: bridgetfinnerty | November 5, 2013 11:41 AM    Report this comment

I really wish my two little dogs could sleep on the bed with me. I used to let them but they both unpredictably urinate in the house at night. I have tried everything: long walks before bed, multiple vet trips to make sure no medical issues were at fault, professional carpet cleaning to eliminate any odors, crating for a short time period and then letting them sleep with me again, etc. Nothing will break this habit. They mind their house manners the rest of the time. Now they have to sleep in their crates. They seem to like sleeping in them, but it makes me sad. But, I can't have a house that smells like urine.

Posted by: Alicia484 | November 4, 2013 3:58 PM    Report this comment

Thank you so much for this article. We have a 5 mo old Golden that is very affectionate, we've had her for almost 6 wks now, I have crate trained her for sleeping at night, took two nights, she's a smart girl. I spend 99% or more of my day with her, much easier to train a pup if you don't have to go to work. This article answered many questions I had about allowing her to sleep on my bed at night in the future. My partner and I don't sleep in the same room as she uses a cpap machine and I am a very light sleeper. I do believe that once this pup is trained to be trusted out of her crate at night and stay on the bed, I will start working on this next step. Again, thank you so much for all the informative and humorous articles.

Posted by: Unknown | November 4, 2013 12:44 PM    Report this comment

I came across this article looking to find a way to teach my dog proper "bed etiquette". She's a 1 yr old lab mix who loves to snuggle, but fails to realize we're not part of the furniture! When she was small enough, she would actually sleep on top of our pillows and cradle our heads. Now she often sprawls out across our legs, or takes up half the bed so we are literally crunching into fetal position so as to limit our bodies to the top half of the bed and avoid being "pinned down". Once she's lying down or asleep, she's quite stubborn and impossible to move. Any suggestions on how to get her to pick a more appropriate spot?

Posted by: danicd88 | November 3, 2013 9:53 AM    Report this comment

My two year old cattle dog sleeps in the bed, under the covers, between my wife and me. We love it. He is not the type of dog that cuddles and snuggles, so those hours at night are precious to us. To keep the hair and dirt under control I change the sheets once a week. It is a small price to pay in order to fall asleep and wake up with all the loves of my life.

Posted by: Archi D | February 28, 2013 1:21 PM    Report this comment

What kind of breed or mix is the dog in the photo? I have a dog named Kobe who looks exactly like this dog . He was given to me for free & I was told he was a pitbull but when his hair started growing I knew he wasn't. I get compliments all the time but can never answer when they ask me what breed he is. Hope to get a response & thank you in advance.

Posted by: Unknown | February 11, 2013 12:04 PM    Report this comment

Being an insomniac, I have enough trouble sleeping all night with a husband, much less two hairy, farting, nonetheless beloved Labs. They both have expensive memory foam beds in another room. Besides, the bedroom is for my husband and me, not kids, grandkids or dogs. My dogs take up much of my life by choice, but the bedroom is for the humans. Well........the cats do spend some nights with us, but they mostly have their own places, also.

Posted by: Karen H | April 20, 2012 1:58 PM    Report this comment

Being an insomniac, I have enough trouble sleeping all night with a husband, much less two hairy, farting, nonetheless beloved Labs. They both have expensive memory foam beds in another room. Besides, the bedroom is for my husband and me, not kids, grandkids or dogs. My dogs take up much of my life by choice, but the bedroom is for the humans. Well........the cats do spend some nights with us, but they mostly have their own places, also.

Posted by: Karen H | April 20, 2012 1:58 PM    Report this comment

I banned dogs from my bed 30 years ago after waking up with a face full of dog hair. Since then my dogs have always slept in comfy beds in our bedroom. But here I am today, 5 English Springer Spaniels later, with the most mannerly and polite 2 year old rescue Springer sleeping with me every night. After living with us for a year he has never, ever jumped on the bed (or any other furniture) without an invitation and happily jumps off with a light tap and a whisper. I think my change of heart came after losing our 7 year old retired professional hunting Springer to cancer after having her only a year. How she would have loved sleeping with us for her last year of life.

Posted by: 2SpringerBoyz | April 20, 2012 9:43 AM    Report this comment

My 9 lb. male neutored Maltese has slept with me since he was 7 months old. Too old to crate train when I got him. Broke my 2 crates and tried to bite through the car crate until his gums bled. If he bit anybody but me, I could be fined and my dog removed from my home. The middle aged dog in this article that bit the owner has behavioral problems. What if it was a child trying to pet the dog at a wrong time or tried to play with the dogs toy. Bite, fines, fees, lawsuits, dog gone. My baby is now very sick with Cushings, Thyroid Problems, Breathing problems and a horrible skin condition. Not staph or I think I would have gotten it by now. Being treated for all but Cushings-could not handle the medication and it cost me thousands. He still sleeps with me. He is very well behaved and knows what "it is time to go to bed means". I had a man over many yrs. ago in my bed and my dog was kissing the guy and playing with us. My baby was not jeoulous, he thought it was a game of sorts. I got rid of the guy and kept the dog.

Posted by: GB | August 20, 2011 1:09 PM    Report this comment

I would have liked to see the mention of other reasons people avoid having dogs on the bed - things like worrying about getting fleas (etc) in the bed, dog drool on the covers, and a bed full of dog hair. My dog is well groomed & on flea/tick prevention, but it is such a mess to have him up there. But for now (since adopting him at 2 mos til his 4th bday (today!), he is happier in the hall our on the couch in another room - he likes his sleep too much to be interrupted by humans :). Now if I could only find a dog bed as cozy as the couch that would fit in my small bedroom... I do miss the companionship from when our former dog slept under the bed every night.

Posted by: ALEX F | August 12, 2010 8:18 PM    Report this comment

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