Sleeping with your dog in bed can be cozy, but it’s a bit of a controversy. Of course, there are pros and cons to sharing your bed with a dog. The strongest pro includes feelings of safety and security. The most valid con is that if you or your human bed partner have allergies and asthma that could be exacerbated by the dog, then it may not be the best idea.
If not, go ahead and share your bed with your dog. Several studies support your decision, all concluding that it’s fine. A 2020 study published in Animals, even assessed whether a dog’s movement would disrupt a person’s sleeping. It does not. The researchers found a positive relationship between human and dog movement over sleep periods and no negative effects.
Considerations if your dog will share your bed:
- Your dog should be well groomed.
- You should use flea/tick preventatives on your dog.
- If your dog has difficulty getting in or out of the bed (little dog, senior dog), consider a small ottoman at the foot of the bed, pet stairs, or a ramp to make it easier for him to get in or out of the bed.
- Keep a water bowl available in the bedroom for your dog.
- If your older dog has incontinence issues, you can use a belly band (male dogs) or doggie diaper at night.
- Use a breathable, waterproof mattress protector.
Unfortunately, a myth is still circulating that dogs can become dominant or spoiled by sleeping in your bed. This myth is based the “dominance theory,” which means humans need to show our dogs that we are the alpha member in our family pack. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Animal behaviorists proved long ago that the dominance theory is not only nonsense, it’s counterproductive to training your dog to do anything. There are no behavior problems associated with a dog sleeping in your bed.
Wish you had recommended owners keep their puppies in confinement each night until such time the owner knows the pup won’t chew or destroy items during the night without supervision. Too many items’ pups love to chew on like electric cords, cell phones, furniture and trash cans. Don’t assume all puppies stop chewing foreign items at a certain age.
The only negative issues I’ve experienced with allowing my dog to share my bed is if I have to board my doggy overnight for some reason (and it has to be a very good reason!).
He has more separation anxiety if he sleeps alone.
When I crate trained him to sleep in his crate he has less problem with separation and lately prefers his crate to my bed. Maybe MY movements have been keeping HIM up all night! 😉
My 4 previous dogs (2 Bull Terriers, Kerry Blue Terrier & French Bulldog) all were allowed to sleep in our beds all the time. My newest puppy (Mini Bull Terrier) has slept with us since she was brought home at 8 weeks old. For the first year there was no issue. Then we had her spayed at 13 months old. 2 weeks after the spay she was sleeping in bed resting her chin on my thigh. As I got up to get off the bed, I moved her head and without a growl or warning, she bit me on the finger. OUCH! The next night she did the same thing to my wife and nearly took her finger off. This was not a “rage” issue but rather a “dominance” issue where she was correcting us the only way she knew how. She now sleeps in her crate (no issue with that, she loves her crate) and my wife and I are in training with our pup with a gentle trainer (prong collar and positive reinforcement) and we are learning how to let her know that she is a dog, not a baby and who the alphas are in our household. I think these incidents were exasperated by her hormones from the spay and she also thought that she was queen of our house. If I had it to do all over again, I would have made her sleep in the crate until she earned the “right” to sleep in our beds. Thank God we found a trainer who is helping us.
Perhaps the elephant in the room/bed . . . what about human intimacy? Any studies (or personal thoughts) on if or how it negatively affects husband and wife having sex? Or even human snuggling?
All good points brought up in these comments. My feeling is that the author is correct, in a perfect world. However, many people don’t live alone, but if down the road they may have a partner who may not want to share the bed with a dog, and then there’s the question of intimacy…what I’m getting to is one has to make sure their dog is also trained to go in a crate near the bed or to be able to be comfortable sleeping on the floor, maybe on a dog bed, near the bed or in an other room. This is what we’ve trained our dogs to do and all involved are flexible and content.
When I first got my Caesar in the 90s he was crate trained. I read about not letting the dog sleep in your bed and he used to sleep in his crate with the door open for a few years. Eventually in the middle of the night he would come into my bedroom and jump on the bed and make himself at home. I didn’t bother to make him get off. When I got Ramses he was crate trained as well but when he decided he wanted to sleep on the bed I didn’t bother to do anything about it. He used to put himself to bed in my spot at 9pm and when I came in the room and started to undress he would wake up and move over, giving me a nice, warm spot.
The downside to sleeping with a dog is when you aren’t sleeping with a dog. When Ramses passed I was going to wait six months and take some time to take a road trip up the state and back. I lasted 10 days before I started checking PetFinder. I could not stand the quiet. I missed him shifting in the bed, the sound of his breathing, the occasional sighs and the sounds of his feet on the wooden floor. I missed his presence. I couldn’t sleep for the quiet. I imagine this is similar to what people go through when they lose a spouse. You get used to the sounds and the movements and it is their absence that keeps you awake.
Diana likes to cuddle in the bed but in the summer when the nights are cooler outside than they are inside she will often stay outside. Freyja has slept on the floor since I got her and is only just getting used to the fact she has her own bed and she has permission to sleep in it. She does jump on the bed to give me a morning greeting after Diana has left but I suspect her previous owners did not allow her on the furniture so even though she will come up on the sofa to snuggle a bit and will come on the bed for a bit, I think old memories stir and she then gets down and settles on the floor. In the summer she also prefers the cooler outside than the oven in my bedroom. I basically let them sleep as they like. They’re welcome but not required.