One of the most frequent questions first-time dog owners ask is:
“Should I let my dog sleep in bed with me?”
And there is always an ‘ultimate truth’ answer supported with concrete and strong arguments pro and contra – the actual truth is far more flexible.
Therefore, this question is not to be generalized and debated based on anything but your own idea of the way you would like to live with your dog. All of that leads us to the conclusion that answering this particular question is not as simple as Yes or No.
It depends completely on what you are okay with and what you intend to allow your dog to do.
You wake up and your dog cuddly wags his tail wishing you a good morning from the other side of the bed. Sounds great, if sleeping in the same bed with your dog is what you like.
But what if your dog is half the size of your bed? Or if you no longer have a pillow since your dog took it from you? Or if your dog decides that your bed is now his. It’s ok, you can have the doggy basket.
But it sure is not a joyful picture if you strictly forbid your dog to sleep in your bed, but you keep waking up next to your drooling four-legged companion.
Far more important than simply answering the question “Is having a dog in bed a good or a bad idea”, is actually training your dog to stick with your decision whether it is to allow sleeping in bed or to forbid it.
Opinions On The Dogs Sleeping In Beds Issue
Some old-school dog trainers say that allowing your dog to sleep in your bed is a symbolic act of submission to the dominant dog, that further on causes other dominant dog behavioral issues. Basically this theory says that if you allow your dog to control the most intimate part of your living space, the dominant dog will push further and further until he gains control over space, actors and actions.
This opinion has been discredited and dismissed by contemporary behavioral science – it turns out that dogs simply enjoy being close to their humans while asleep.
So, why does my dog sneak into my bed at night?
Some of our pet dogs are afraid of the dark or being alone, so that pretty much adds up to the theory that the main cause of dogs’ attempts to sneak into our beds is triggered by the need of having their humans by their side all the time.
There is also an opinion that dogs should not be allowed into the bedroom, even less in bed, because of the allergies their presence may cause. However, whether you are allergic to dogs or not – a dog being near you while you sleep will not trigger the allergy if you do not already have one.
And if you do – it does not take a dog to sleep near you to find out about it. If you actually suffer from the allergy, you most probably wouldn’t even be able to stand being near a dog at all.
Some owners and trainers do not allow dogs to jump on the furniture at all, especially not on the bed. They simply do not want dogs in the bed and do not enjoy having animals near them while asleep.
This approach is as legitimate as the opposite one. Some people don’t mind sharing their beds with their dogs and actually enjoy having their dog near while asleep. It all comes down to whether you like it or not. What ever your opinion on this matter is, and whether you intend to allow it permanently or forbid it, you need to decide and stick to the decision you make. Otherwise, your dog will decide on his own.
How To Prevent My Dog From Climbing Into My Bed
If you decide that sharing bed with your dog is not something that you are comfortable with, it may turn into a light training task. Some dogs show no interest in sleeping in a bed at all, while others will try pretty much anything to actually convince you to allow it.
Some will beg, some will jump in repeatedly, some will wait until you are sound asleep and crawl into bed without you even noticing them until the next morning. The most important thing is to stick with your decision. Either you allow it or you do not. Letting your dog sleep in the bed occasionally will be interpreted as “It’s ok to sleep in a bed”. So, try not to confuse your dog.
Provide your dog with a cozy place to sleep in on his own; some dogs like baskets, some like pillows – it is all a matter of taste. Sometimes incorporating something of your own into your dog’s sleeping area helps the dog adjust to sleeping on a particular spot that you decided on. It may be a pillowcase you have slept on, a t-shirt, or something else that carries your scent and will suggest your presence.
When your dog tries to sneak into your bed, take him to his own sleeping space and command him to lay down and stay. Reward for the fulfilled task if needed, and also express your discontent if he leaves the place.
Some dogs want to sleep in your bed that badly that they will wait and make sure that you are sound asleep and, without disturbing you, will sneak into your bed. A strategy to prevent the sneaking in is based on expressing your discontent with what you see loudly, taking your dog to his own bed and “remaining upset” over it for a while. It may not work on every dog – some of them like sleeping with their humans way too much to just give up trying. If so, you may have to block the access to your bedroom completely.
Sleeping In Your Bed With A Dog
If you have decided that you are fine with letting your dog sleep in your bed, there are several things to keep in mind, for no other than practical reasons.
Allowing a Mastiff puppy to sleep in bed with you is one thing, but having to share the bed with a hundred-and-seventy-pound dog is a completely different thing.
You may just end up being squeezed out of your own bed. Keep that in mind when deciding if you want to allow your dog to sleep in your bed or not. It’s unfair to expect of a dog that was allowed to sleep in the bed while he was a puppy to understand why suddenly he no longer can. As many other things, sleeping in a bed is a habit, and habits are extremely hard to get rid of.
Most dogs are not exactly sound sleepers, so if you are a light sleeper, this may turn out to be a problem. During the night, dogs lick and scratch themselves, and some also like to rearrange the bedclothes until they feel cozy. Make sure that you have considered all of these things before you decide whether sleeping in the same bed is OK.
The following thing may seem trivial, but may turn out to be an issue when it comes to sleeping in the same bed or even in the same room. You would be genuinely surprised by how loudly some dogs can snore. Contrary to the popular belief, this has nothing to do with the size of the dog.
Once, I had my friend’s miniature schnauzer sleeping over and could not believe (and I am still having trouble believing) that such a small creature is capable of producing such a loud and annoying noise. So if you are a light sleeper, sharing bed with a cute, cuddly but snoring creature may not turn out to be the best idea.
Rules Of Sharing Bed
In order to make sleeping in the same bed with your dog pleasant, although the decision to allow it may seem enough, you need to establish certain rules. Those will, again, depend only on what you consider to be OK.
If you do not want to go as far as sharing a pillow, you need to keep your dog at the bottom of the bed. This may take some training. Let your dog climb onto the bed and command him to lay down in the bottom end of the bed. If you notice him sneaking towards the pillow – it’s game over. Take him off the bed, express your discontent loudly and point him to his own sleeping area.
Do not try to push him to the bottom area –in dogs’ language, pushing is an invitation to play. You don’t want your dog to think that sleeping on the pillow is an award won in the challenge of physically overpowering you. Repeat the action for as long as it takes for the link between these actions to firmly establish.
If you are all right with sharing a pillow, keep in mind that some dogs find plucking your hair out and licking your face while asleep amusing. Teaching the dog not to do these things works the same way as teaching them which part of the bed belongs to them. If you break the rules – you sleep in the doggy basket. Do not negotiate the rules you once establish.
Why Doesn’t My Dog Want To Sleep In My Bed?
Some people are very fond of the idea of sharing bed with their pets, yet there are dogs that are not comfortable with that idea and would rather than sleeping in your bed, curl up and sleep next to a door.
It is not uncommon for dogs to instinctively sleep on the house entrance. This weird choice of a place to sleep is considered to be a manifestation of an instinct to guard and protect.
Getting your dog used to sleeping in a bed is a training task, based mostly on luring and rewarding. Invite your dog to join you in bed several times a day and reward the effort. At first, try napping together in the afternoon and play for a bit, until your dog starts to feel comfortable in your sleeping area.
This may take time, but most dogs eventually recognize sleeping in a bed as a comfortable, cozy experience and turn it into a habit. On the other hand, some dogs will stay in bed for as long as you are awake in order to please you, and after you fall asleep, leave for the place they find more suitable to sleep at.
Several things you should consider regarding the subject of dogs sleeping in the bed
- You and your dog will not always sleep at your own home. Some people, as much as they might love both you and your dog, do not allow dogs in bed in their houses. You cannot argue the legitimacy of that decision. Consider practicing lay down command until perfected, just in case you need to keep your otherwise allowed-to-bed dog out of it for an occasion
- You may sometimes want to share your bed with someone other than your dog. Perfecting the “Stay down” training may be of a huge help in this situation. Consider keeping your dog out of the bedroom on these occasions; your dog may not be able to refrain himself from curiosity or even jealousy
- Your puppy will not always be a puppy. Tiny creatures grow up to be huge dogs. Think practically – at a certain point your bed might not be big enough for the both of you
- Whatever your decision may be; to allow your dog to sleep in bed or not, make sure that other residents of the household stick to the rules as well. If you do not allow sleeping in bed, and your family member or flatmate does – you may end up having problems with the dog deciding on what is allowed by himself. No need to think twice on what the choice would be