Do You Let Your Dog Sleep In Bed?
Do You Let Your Dog Sleep In Bed?
During every new client consult I, and most other trainers, will ask where your dog spends their time. I ask because I want to know if your dog is crate trained, getting adequate exercise, fearful, etc. The answer I often get when it comes to nighttime is often that the dog sleeps in bed, followed immediately by some version of “I know I shouldn’t let him” or “I know that’s wrong.” Why? Why do so many people think it’s wrong to allow your pooch in the bed? Is it wrong?
The short answer, like so many other questions in dog training, is: it depends. In this day and age most of us purchased or rescued our canine companions to be just that- companions. We enjoy their company and want to spend time with them. Who doesn’t love cuddling their pup at the end of a long day? For most dogs and owners it is perfectly acceptable to allow your pooch into bed or onto the couch with you. They will in no way think they are now the dominant figure in the home. (see: http://perfect-pooch.com/dogs-and-dominance/).
There are some exceptions to this rule and there are certain instances in which your dog should not be allowed in bed with you:
1. Puppies or dogs who may not be housebroken should not be sleeping in bed with their owner. Crate training is ideal for puppies or newly adopted dogs to help them learn the ropes and keep them safe when they cannot be directly supervised. Your sleepy, sweet nine-week-old puppy may sleep right through the night, however, your 16 week-old may get up to pee, chew, or play. Trying to put a pup used to a bed into a crate once a problem arrives is far more difficult than graduating from the crate to your bed after proving good behavior and bed time skills.
2. If either of you is not sleeping well. If you, your human partner, or your dog is not getting a good night’s sleep for any reason, then you should not share a bed. I think it goes without saying, but sleep is important for all of you.
3. If your pooch is becoming possessive of you or your bed, you should not allow them to sleep in bed with you until you have worked through the issue with a trainer. Allowing your dog to bully you or a partner can reinforce the resource guarding issue and exacerbate the concern. This is also true if your pet is “protecting” you from your partner or preventing one of you from being comfortable by growling or barking at movement.
If none of these circumstances applies to you, then go ahead and let the pup in bed if you want. There are some major benefits to having your pooch in bed with you: plenty of studies have shown that skin contact with another living being (human or otherwise) is good for your health. Cuddle away! There are drawbacks to this arrangement: a furry bed, drool and any paw dirt in the bed, potential doggy smell, etc. Luckily, most of these issues are fairly simple to manage with regular grooming and deep cleaning of your dog and bed.
While zoonotic diseases can also be a concern, those would diseases and parasites that can travel between animals and people, most house pets with regular veterinary care are low risk. That being said, it is important to treat your dog at the first signs of illness and let your doctor know if your pooch does contract something that could affect you (giardia, worms, etc). In most cases, sleeping with your dog is cathartic and a wonderful bonding experience for you both. So go ahead, invite your pooch up to cuddle if you want!
Head Trainer- Perfect Pooch
BA, CPDT-KA, AKC CGC Evaluator