Should I let my dog sleep in my bed?
We all know the saying “let sleeping dogs lie” – but the question is, where?
It’s the age-old battle. Dogs are our best friends, and we naturally want to be around them. Cuddles in bed with your pet are great, so what’s the harm in letting them snooze with you for a night or two… or three, or four?
That one-off night can quickly become the norm, with studies finding around 50% of dog owners are letting their pooches share the bed on a regular basis. But, is it bad to have your dog sleeping in bed? Or further still, is having your dog sleeping in bed bad for your health?
There are a whole host of benefits to sharing a bed with your pet – that’s why so many of us do it! We all know having and being around a pet can make you happy, and for many, this extends to bedtime. Allowing your dog in your bed offers companionship, decreases feelings of loneliness, strengthens your bond with your pet and offers an extra feeling of security. Not to mention they keep your bed warm, plus, who doesn’t love a cuddle?
Is a dog sleeping in bed bad for health?
So why is letting your dog sleep in your bed often met with judgement? There are some health concerns often raised. For example, allergies (if you’re a sufferer) are massively heightened. Diseases can also be passed on more easily, but this is not especially common. Parasites such as fleas and ticks are more of a risk to you if your dog is in your bed, although this is something you should be on top of on a regular basis anyway.
The most common issue with having your dog in your bed is a disturbance to sleep. This is especially apparent if you have a smaller bed, share a bed with a partner, or have multiple dogs – good luck getting comfortable with the inches you’re left with! Dogs are also naturally much more sensitive to sound, so wake up much more frequently than humans over a prolonged period which may cause you to wake too, particularly if they’re a barker. After your third or fourth 3am wake-up call, those feelings of happiness and companionship may be wearing a little thin!
Does allowing your dog to sleep in your bed cause behavioural issues?
We also need to look at dog behaviour: does your dog sleeping in bed affect dominance? Many owners worry that allowing their dog to sleep in bed will leave them thinking they’re the boss, or that it may cause behavioural issues or separation anxiety. The truth is, it is not known and has not been proven whether or not allowing your dog to sleep in your bed is a direct cause of behavioural issues. However, allowing your dog to sleep in your bed may encourage a problem that’s already there. For example, sleeping in bed with you can reduce anxiety in dogs, but can also exacerbate separation anxiety in the long term as your dog becomes used to having you as support every night. Therefore, if your dog is already experiencing separation anxiety, tucking him or her up in bed with you is probably not the solution.
Similarly, with worries about negative behaviours such as dominance or aggression, it all depends on you and your dog. If your dog is already well behaved and adjusted, the odd night’s kip with you shouldn’t cause issues. But, if your dog is already suffering from issues linked to separation, dominance or aggression, you are better off ensuring they can stay comfortably in their own sleeping spot and exploring alternative dog stress management solutions.
How to stop your dog sleeping in bed with you
If you’re allowing your dog in bed, they should play by your rules. The bed should be a calm place to unwind or snooze – this means no chewing and definitely no playing. If your dog continually acts up, it’s probably time to move them out of your bed.
With most pooches, especially if they’ve become used to the routine of sharing your bed, this is easier said than done. The trick, as with most dog training, is patience. You can’t expect a dog who is used to sleeping in your room to suddenly be comfortable downstairs alone, so work gradually to reduce their dependence on you. Try bringing their bed up to your bedroom and placing it next to the bed for a few nights, using positive reinforcement and rewards to encourage them to sleep solo. This will get them used to physically sleeping alone, while still having you in the room for comfort.
Once your pooch is used to sleeping in their own bed, try moving them downstairs. Set up a comfortable spot, and show them the floor is appealing with plenty of toys and treats. Remember, patience is key; your dog won’t get used to a change in routine instantly, but if you put in the time, after a while their new bedtime routine will become a breeze.
So, should you let your dog in bed with you?
There is no strict rule on what is right or wrong when it comes to allowing pets in bed, so it all comes down to personal preference – do the pros outweigh the cons for you?
It isn’t a health concern to cuddle up with your pet in bed once in a while, assuming they’re kept clean and are otherwise well behaved. However, for the sake of your own relaxing night’s sleep, we wouldn’t recommend making a habit of it, as it can quickly become a pattern that your dog will struggle to break. So, if you can’t go without those night time cuddles, we’d recommend ensuring your dog is also completely comfortable sleeping alone and away from you, and instead keep the bed-sharing as an occasional treat.
To keep your prized pooch happy and healthy at all times, why not explore the full My-Pet collection at Groomers? From dog shampoo and clippers through to dog skincare, you can discover all the grooming accessories you need to ensure your dog both looks and feels fantastic.