Deciding whether to allow your dog in the bed is not easy. On the one hand, you don't want him to get lonely at night. But on the other, you don't want to spoil him. What's a loving pet parent to do? The first thing to do is relax. You're not going to ruin your dog. But whether you'll ruin your chances of a good night's sleep is another matter. Here are a few more factors you might want to consider when deciding whether or not to sleep with your dog.
A Matter of Choice
There are no hard and fast rules about whether your dog should or shouldn't share your bed. Some trainers who subscribe to outdated notions of dominance discourage allowing your dog in the bed on the basis that you'll elevate his pack status above your own. However, Whole Dog Journal reports that this notion has been discredited by behavioral science studies. Ultimately, whether your dog should sleep with you comes down to whether or not you want him in your bed, and whether he's mature enough to handle it.
Only you can determine whether you're comfortable with the idea of sleeping with your dog in the bed, but as for whether your pooch can handle it, Vetstreet suggests he should meet a few basic criteria.
- He can sleep through the night without needing a potty break.
- He can remain in his own bed or crate without whining or crying to be let out.
- He's neither so tiny that you might accidentally harm him nor so huge that he might accidentally harm you.
The Downside of Sleeping with Your Dog
As enjoyable as it can be to fall asleep snuggling with your warm pup, there are a few potential complications that might make you want to reconsider.
- He might disturb your sleep: Dogs tend to be fidgety and prone to odd sleep behaviors like snoring, running or twitching. Your pooch might wake up in the middle of the night to scratch, stretch, or "dig" into the covers until he's more comfortable. Even dogs who are capable of sleeping through the night will sometimes get up and patrol the house or get a drink of water if they're free to do so. Dogs also have a tendency to choose spots on the bed that you might prefer to stretch out on. This can cause a problem if you accidentally stretch and kick your dog or roll over to find a dog in the spot you wanted to get comfortable in.
- He might exacerbate your allergies: Although you may not be allergic to pet dander, dogs often pick up and carry other allergens such as grass and pollen. If you suffer from allergies, it might be a bad idea to allow your dog into your bedroom at all, let alone into your bed. Similar to allergens, dogs shed — there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog — so you might not be comfortable waking up with dog fur in your mouth or having to wash the sheets every day. Keep this in mind as your making your decision to let the dog in the bed or not.
- It might not be good for your marriage: BarkPost cautions that allowing your dog to come between you and your partner at night might interfere with the type of intimacy that builds strong marriages and relationships. Additionally, some dogs may become jealous and decide to "guard" one partner from the other, says Whole Dog Journal. If either your spouse or your dog exhibits signs of jealousy, it's time to revoke the dog's bed privileges.
- Your dog might become aggressive: Some dogs begin to see the bed as part of their territory and might display signs of resource guarding or status-related aggression, in which they don't defer to their human's authority. If this happens, your dog shouldn't be allowed back in the bed until he has learned to curb his aggression.
- Doggy Drool: It is no secret that some dogs drool and some pet parents wake up to wet spots on their bed or pillow. If this is your dog, you might be more comfortable giving him his own dog bed next to yours. Also, dogs that have unfettered access to your bed may choose to take a snooze in your bed when you're not there. This may be fine with you until after he comes inside after it just got done raining and you find wet paw prints all over your sheets.
- Warming the Bed: While this can be a nice bonus in the cold winter months, dogs can give off some heat when they sleep, elevating the temperature of your bed (especially with big dogs). If you're someone that does not do well with sleeping warm, a dog as a snuggle partner may not be a good decision for you.
- Sleeping at Great Heights: As a general rule, if your dog cannot access the bed to get in and out of it with ease, then it might not be a good idea to invite him up. For small dogs that have to jump down, it is a good idea to get a bench at the end of the bed for him to more easily climb up and down. If you have to pick up your dog to put him in the bed, it's probably best he stays on the ground, as jumping down could harm him.
Of course, if you want to sleep with your dog there are benefits, as well. Having your dog in the bed can help you relax, and also strengthen the bond between you and your pup. Only you can decide whether the negatives outweigh the positives. You might also find middle ground by placing a dog bed next to your own bed, so you get the proximity without the sleep disturbance. Whichever you decide, just remember that there is no definitive right or wrong — it's about what's right for you and your dog.
Jean Marie Bauhaus
Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet parent, pet blogger and novelist from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she usually writes under the supervision of a lapful of furbabies.