Our dogs are our best friends and sometimes our closest companions. It makes sense that we’d want to curl up with them at night in our beds. However, some would say that this isn’t proper. Maybe even unclean.
So should your dog sleep with you in your own bed? As a veterinarian, my answer is yes. With one caveat: that they know that it’s YOUR bed, and not THEIR bed. There’s a difference.
Benefits of Sharing The Bed With Your Dog
There are many benefits to sharing your bed with your favorite four-legged companion:
- It fosters a closer relationship with your dog. A stronger bond can make your life with your pet so much more enriching.
- It can provide a better, more restful sleep for you. With your dog next to you, you feel more secure and relaxed.
- It reduces your anxiety as you try and fall asleep. Insomnia and difficulty falling asleep can be tempered by petting and talking to a dog.
- You wake up each morning snuggling with your furry loved one who wakes you up with wet kisses and head presses. That’s a great way to wake up every day.
- There can be many health benefits to the stress relief you can get from sharing your bed with your dog: lowered blood pressure, less anxiety and stress, and a consistent sleep pattern.
- Many dogs will tell you when it’s time for bed. No more super late nights staying up too late watching tv or playing video games.
Problems That Can Arise When You Share Your Bed With Your Dog
- Your dog is so restless at night, constantly moving and shifting position, that you can’t get a restful night sleep.
- You are the kind of sleeper that rolls and shifts constantly and your dog can’t get a good night’s sleep.
- Your dog begins to assert to you that it’s HIS bed and objects to anything you do in bed whether it’s adjusting the covers or moving your legs to get more comfortable.
- If your dog begins to suffer from incontinence it can make it necessary to constantly clean the sheets and covers.
- If you don’t keep your dog well-groomed, your bed and bedroom can smell like dog which may not be terribly attractive to a potential human relationship.
What To Do When Your Dog Starts To Behave Badly On The Bed
I hear this occasionally from some of my nicest and generous clients:
“Doc, Buddy here has started growling at me at night when we are trying to sleep. I think maybe I wake him up when I roll over or maybe he hurts because he gets mad at me when I try and move him from my usual spot on the bed…”
This is a tough one to answer in some ways. This particular client adores their dog and gives them everything. Unfortunately their dog has taken things a bit too far. Now they think that the bed is THEIR bed. My client is simply a guest.
Fortunately, there’s a pretty simple and straightforward solution to the problem: the dog is not allowed on the bed unless they accept that THEY are the guest.
That may sound harsh to the more soft-hearted of you out there, but the reality is that allowing your dog to dictate where you sleep on the bed is a slippery slope to losing the “top dog” status in the house.
Alternatives To Sleeping On Your Bed
I’m talking about the dog sleeping elsewhere, not you. If it’s just not going to work out with Buddy on the bed, then you have some choices to where you can set him up in comfort.
Their Own Dog Bed
Thankfully, there are some outstanding options for every dog when it comes to dog beds these days. Dog beds come in a few different varieties:
- Foam Orthopedic Beds – best for the big dog breeds, these beds are so supportive and comfy that your dog may never want to get back up. Check out this one from Furhaven that is curved and soft enough to be the preferred sleeping spot for your best friend. It provides great support at all the right spots. You might even want to try it out!
- Donut Cuddler – I find that the smallest dogs tend to like these the most. Being able to curl up and almost hide out in a super squishy warm bed will give your little one a consistently great sleeping spot.
- Elevated Mesh Dog Bed – Our Golden Retreiver loves this bed. She uses it every night, and I think it’s because it takes the pressure off all her joints. Not every dog would like this simply because it’s up off the ground. To help some dogs, place a thick blanket over the bed as well to enhance the cushion and comfort.
- Memory Foam Flat Dog Bed – This bed looks very basic and boring but some of the biggest dog breeds love these. If your dog doesn’t like to use dog beds very often, but they need to because of their orthopedic conditions, it may be easiest to train them to use this type of bed.
Dog kennels can be such polarizing topics with dogs owners. They usually fall in one of two categories:
- The dog started kennel training as a young puppy, took to it like a pro from the first day, and they’ve never had a problem.
- The kennel has been a constant source of problem because the puppy eliminated in it every day and/or cried all the time when they were in the kennel. Eventually the pet owner gave up using it and won’t think of trying it again.
Unfortunately, if your dog falls into category #2 and you gave up using the kennel earlier, it’s likely to be difficult to try and train them to use one later. It can be done, it’s just harder.
Sometimes a trainer needs to be consulted, especially if the dog is very anxious when left alone in the kennel. I will delve into this topic much more in another article in the future. For now, it’s beyond the scope of this article to go into detail about fixing this problem.
Should The Dog Even Sleep In Your Room?
There are two main reasons why your dog should not even sleep in the same room as you:
- You can’t sleep because of him/her.
- He/she can’t sleep because of you.
How does that work? Well, it’s typically that one of you is waking the other one up. If you roll over in your sleep and the puppy hears you and starts to cry wanting attention, then that’s not good. If your dog is constantly walking around your room and won’t settle down at night, then that’s not good for your sleep.
I used to have my dogs sleep in bed with me. Back then it was just me and two dogs and the bed was pretty big. Unfortunately, I never slept very well and would wake up multiple times at night. I wasn’t sure if I woke the dogs up or if they were waking me up.
Eventually I moved the dogs downstairs to a kennel together and they settled into the nightly routine. We all were able to get good night’s sleep and I’ve not had a dog sleep in my bed since.
The bottom line is that if your dog is well-behaved and you sleep well together in the same bed, then do that! Don’t let anyone tell you different. However, if your nighttime routine is disturbed by your dog, then consider moving them off the bed for your health and the sake of your relationship with your dog.