I love my dog as much as the next owner. I’m madly in love with this creature. I prefer him to every human I know.
So I understand the temptation to bring your dog in bed with you when he’s a tiny puppy, or sick. Or just looking particularly beguiling at that moment.
Trust me, you will thank yourself later.
Why Must You Sleep With Your Dog?
A dog sleeping in your bed might seem cosy. But in reality, you are going to have an odor about you if you do.
Your dog does not need to sleep in your bed. He is perfectly happy in his own bed.
If your dog is in your bed it’s because you want him there. So what? you say. Your dog sleeps in your bed and you like it and it’s your business.
This is true.
Opinions and hygiene preferences aside, there are good behavioral reasons to rethink sleeping with dogs in the bed.
Should Your Dog Sleep In Your Bed? Not Really
A dog takes cues from everything you do.
Sharing a bed is what littermates do. If you’re sleeping together, that means you’re equals. Which is not quite the message you want to send to your dog. You are the leader. Establishing that hierarchy allows your dog to relax into his role as a follower. It has flow-on effects for every aspect of your dog’s behavior and if you get this right it will reflect well in other parts of your relationship with your dog.
it’s worth keeping him off the furniture too. Height is dominance and it sends a consistent message for furniture to be for humans, the floor for dogs. Get him a good, supportive orthopedic dog bed.
How To Train My Dog To Sleep In His Own Bed
Dogs learn what we teach. If your dog sleeps in his own bed from the get-go as a pup, he knows no different. It will become his territory, his den, his place to retreat for space.
I believe sleeping in his own bed rather than being all up in your grill contributes to a puppy developing into a well adjusted, independent dog.
Research has found that dogs that sleep in their owners’ beds and bedrooms can be more prone to disorders like separation anxiety.
My dog’s bed is right next to mine, where it’s been since the first night. I can reach over the side and give him a pat. I can hear him snore. He knows I’m right there. It’s a happy medium. Now I literally can’t convince him to get on the bed. He prefers his own and he’s far more comfortable there.
If you’ve missed the moment and need to teach your dog to stop sleeping in your bed and migrate to his own, now is the time.
You’re changing the rules on him, so don’t blame him for being confused at first. But dogs are quick learners. Be firm and consistent and give lots of praise when he gets it right and he will adapt in no time.
Depending on how old your dog is, there might be some whinging. Ignore it. Catch him doing the right thing and praise him and give him some low key attention when he’s quiet and relaxed.
A hand over the edge of the bed lets him know you’re still close.
Treats and rewards can help. A good “Off” or “Go to your bed” command doesn’t go astray either and can help reinforce the message of where he belongs.
“Three Dog Night”
Humans have cohabitated with dogs since Paleolithic times.
Co-sleeping with animals has been widely documented in Aboriginal societies in Australia, with people using dogs for warmth. The colder the night, the more dogs were needed, as captured in the colloquial expression “three dog night”.
Studies suggest about half of all owners let their dogs sleep in their beds, their access to this private space a sign of their status as intimate family members. Researchers have observed that dogs’ access to the beds of their masters elevates them even above human children in the household with kids generally, in Western societies, banned from the parental bedroom at night and encouraged to sleep in their own rooms from a young age.
It’s also noted that dogs in the bed have an unavoidable impact on the interpersonal relations of couples. (Hear, hear.)
Dog In The Bed = Worse Sleep
The Mayo Clinic studied 40 owners and their dogs and found that a dog in the bedroom was not disruptive to sleep.
However, they did find that people slept less well if their dog was actually in their bed, as opposed to on the ground in the same room.
One theory is that this could be due to mismatches in the core body temperatures of dogs and humans.
Dogs also don’t stay asleep for eight hours straight.
Instead, they have an average of three sleep-wake cycles every hour, with sleep interspersed with spontaneous arousal. Dogs are also responsive to auditory stimuli when they’re asleep, so can be easily disturbed… which may well then wake the human.
Conclusion: Is Sleeping With Your Dog Bad?
50 per cent of us do it. Small dogs and cats are are our most likely nocturnal companions.
But it’s not ideal.
The evidence suggests there’s good reason to think carefully before you create this habit in your pet.