SHOULD YOUR DOG SLEEP IN YOUR BED? WHAT OUR DOG EXPERT SAYS
Should your dog sleep in your bed? What our dog expert says
It’s the most romantic month of the year, so let’s talk about your soulmate: your dog. And true love… Is sharing the bed with your pet. Or not? We asked our dog therapist Margaux from Blue Jack Dog Training. Here’s what she had to say!
I’ll just ask the general question first. Is it okay to allow your dog in your bed?
Margaux: “The general answer is: yes, it is. Some dog owners think this might make their dog more ‘dominant’, but this is not true. Just make sure it doesn’t cause problems for your partner, for instance, when your dog is very protective of you or the bed. And of course, when you have little kids, I wouldn’t recommend it. But a stable dog can definitely sleep on your bed if you like them to.”
What do you think are the biggest upsides of sharing your bed with your dog?
Margaux: “For one, it’s nice and warm (laughs). And I’m no expert, but I do believe it would be a good activator of “the cuddle hormone”. Having your dog near you can also help with loneliness. And, of course, it can make you feel safer. Dogs don’t sleep for hours on end like we do, so they remain very alert at night. As for the upsides for your dog: I can imagine they would also appreciate the warmth of your sheets during colder months. And being so close to you makes them feel safe and comforted as well.”
What about the downsides?
Margaux: “Well, dogs don’t sleep for hours on end like we do (laughs). That means they can move quite a lot and keep you from having a healthy sleep regimen. But it all depends on the dog, really. A lot of people also name dog hairs as a big reason not to allow their dogs in their bed.”
You already gave some examples, but when is it not safe to co-snooze?
Margaux: “If you have a baby or little kids that love crawling in bed with you, I would not recommend adding your dog to that. That situation is too unpredictable. If they scare your dog at night, your dog might react in a bad way, simply because they are startled.”
“And as I’ve mentioned before: if your dog currently has a hard time with you coming too close to their own bed, it’s not a good idea to allow them on yours. They might grow protective of that spot as well. In general: everyone’s safety, humans and dogs alike, should always be your priority.”
Let’s talk puppies. Should they be allowed in your bed?
Margaux: “Sure, if you want them to shred your sheets (laughs). In all seriousness: I don’t think your puppy has a place in your bed. And there are a few good reasons for that:
- Puppy biting: you’re dealing with a land shark that’s discovering the whole world with his mouth. Your bed may not survive it.
- Toilet accidents: you can’t trust your pup to be fully potty-trained yet. Keep them out of the bed to avoid extra washing.
- Actual accidents: your dog is still very little. If they fall out of the bed, they might hurt themselves.
- Boundaries: a puppy needs structure and a routine. You need to set physical boundaries: that’s why we don’t recommend giving your puppy free roam in the house during the first months either. And what’s also very important: they need to find their own safe space first, in their sleeping spot that will always be available to them.
Of course, you can keep your puppy close by putting their bench in your room. When you’re still potty-training, this might even help, because you can hear it when they wake up and take them outside on time. Being near you might also reassure them, as their confidence is still growing.”
You often hear people say they’re afraid their dog will get separation anxiety if they sleep with them at night. Are they right?
Margaux: “This is not true at all. You don’t create separation anxiety by being too close with your pet. If you feel like your dog already suffers from it, taking more distance is the last thing you should do. It’s quite the opposite: by being there for your dog and making them feel safe and secure, they’re gaining the confidence they need to cope when you’re not around.”
At the start of our conversation, you mentioned dominance. Another myth?
Margaux: “Yep. Dominance theory is unfortunately still very much alive in dog training. The whole concept of having to remind your dog “who’s boss” is inaccurate. If your dog does have a behavioral problem, there’s almost always an underlying issue, such as insecurity or the need for comfort. They have no desire to raise their status. To quote Victoria Stillwell from Positively: “Dominance theory will see a dog’s behaviour not as a symptom, but as a power-seeking motivation, which it isn’t.”
Now, to connect this to sleeping together with your dog: when your dog wants to join you in the sofa or in bed, it’s simply because they see you doing it. And they want to be with you. They are not claiming that spot as their own or trying to place themselves ‘higher’ in the hierarchy. I’m here to reassure you: your dog doesn’t think they’re better than you. All they’re looking for is your love and affection. Whether that’s in or out of your bed (laughs).”
Speaking of love, a question for dog owners who adore their pet - but not in bed. Should they feel bad about it?
Margaux: “Of course not. Your dog will not love you any less, especially if you fulfil all of their other needs and give them affection in lots of other ways. It’s really just a matter of preference. It’s also perfectly possible that your dog doesn’t like to sleep on the bed: that doesn’t mean they don’t adore you either (laughs). Just make sure they have a comfy, safe and warm spot for sleeping, wherever that place in your home is.”
Can you define some ground rules for sharing a bed with your dog?
Margaux: “I can think of 5:
- Wait until you have an adult, stable dog that understands basic cues and is housebroken.
- Keep the bed clean: treat your dog regularly for fleas and make sure they don’t bring any ticks into the bed. And, of course, take care of muddy paws before they can jump on it.
- Or, even better: teach your dog to ‘ask’ if they can join you. This will be helpful when circumstances change and your dog can’t be on the bed anymore, or when you’re staying somewhere else (for example, a hotel) where this is not allowed.
- Get everyone in the house on the same page about having a dog on the bed. It’s confusing for your dog if one person allows it and one doesn’t.
- Make sure your dog always has their own comfy and safe sleeping spot, somewhere they can’t be disturbed.”
So, to summarize: yes, your dog can sleep in bed with you, if it’s safe for everyone involved and if you follow a few basic rules.
Margaux: “Yes, exactly. And just to repeat: you don’t have to allow them into your bed if you don’t like that. Every household and every dog is different, and that’s perfectly fine. But if you do want to snooze with your dog, now you know that you can. Sweet dreams! (laughs)”
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