To sleep or not to sleep with your dog — that is the question for many first-time pet parents. Although this dilemma isn’t exactly a Shakesperian drama, bed-sharing with your pets has plenty of impassioned devotees — and, naysayers. Why do dog owners in the United States have apprehension about letting their dogs sleep in the same bed? It comes down to a lack of information and perhaps some outdated beliefs.
This uncertainty in pet parents raises common questions about this practice, including, where is the best place for a dog to sleep at night? Is it bad to sleep with your dog? Is it OK? What are the pros and cons of sleeping with your dog? And are there any tips for sharing your bed with your dog?
Pros and Cons of Sleeping with a Dog
Most studies and surveys show people are pretty evenly divided about sleeping with their dogs. An American Kennel Club (AKC) survey shows 45% of dog owners sleep with their dogs. Other sleep options favored by dog owners include a crate (20%), dog bed (17%), outdoors (4%).
BarxBuddy PSA: If you elect to send your dog outside at night to sleep, there are many elements to consider like the security of the area, temperature, weather conditions, and risk of other animals.
Where is the best place for your dog to sleep? Well, it depends. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits and drawbacks of sleeping in the same bed with your dog.
Potential benefits of sleeping with your dog
- Security: Knowing your dog is next to you at night could provide you with an increased sense of security. Dogs remain in tune with sound even during sleep. So, if there’s any unusual noise your pet will be right there to protect you.
- Happiness: Your dog is happiest when you’re nearby. What better way to make you and your pet happy than to share the same sleeping space.
- Warmth: A dog’s body temperature is naturally higher than that of humans, which could make Fido a nice comfy bed warmer during cold nights.
- Calmness: If you go to bed stressed out, having your dog next to you can create calmness as you snuggle.
- Bonding: Many dog owners spend a considerable time away from their pets due to work and life responsibilities. Having your pet in bed can help strengthen your bond.
Potential drawbacks of sleeping with your dog
- Poor quality of sleep: Some studies suggest that dog owners who sleep with their dogs report higher instances of sleep disturbance than those who don’t sleep with their pets. In addition to staying alert during sleep, dogs have frequent sleep/wake cycles throughout the day and night, unlike humans who tend to sleep in a single 7- to 9-hour period at night.
- Aggravate allergies or asthma: If you suffer from allergies or asthma, sleeping with your dog can make them worse.
- Spread disease: Although it is very rare for a dog to spread disease through sharing a bed with its humans, it can happen if you or your pet is unhealthy. Immunosuppressed persons should not sleep with dogs.
- Accidents: If your dog isn’t house trained you may have issues with nighttime accidents in your bed.
Although you might be ready to cuddle up, you may find your dog doesn’t want to sleep with you! Because a dog’s body temperature remains high even during sleep, being curled up among blankets and bodies might be too much for your dog and he’d prefer a cool spot in his bed on the floor.
Some suggest that allowing your dog to sleep with you can cause behavioral issues in your dog. However, we couldn’t find scientific evidence to support that. If your dog has issues with aggression, discuss your concerns with your veterinarian or an animal behaviorist.
Is it Safe for Children to Share a Bed with a Dog?
Most young children would love to sleep with the family dog. However, before you allow your dog to sleep with your child, they (your child) should be mature enough (at least 6 years old) to handle the responsibility. If your child is often mischievous with your dog, plays rough with your dog, or pulls its tail, they should not be allowed to sleep together.
Tips for Sleeping With a Dog
In addition to ensuring your bed is roomy enough for you and your pet there are a few other tips that could make co-sleeping with your pet dreamy.
- Set boundaries. Designate an area where your dog can sleep. Whether that’s in bed with you or in their own bed on the floor, make it clear where your pet is allowed to be and where he’s not.
- Keep your dog clean. Regularly brushing and bathing your dog will keep dirt and allergens down and help maintain your mattress (water- and allergy-resistant mattress pad can also help). Between grooming sessions, you can spot clean paw pads with a warm, wet washcloth.
- Be sure your dog has routine vet visits and is up to date on their vaccinations, heartworm, and flea/tick treatments.
- Take your dog out before and after bedtime. Even if your dog is house trained, take him out right before bed and immediately upon waking in the morning to help prevent accidents.
- Keep your dog above the covers (down at your feet). This move can keep your mattress cleaner and you cooler if you find yourself too warm with your dog next to you.
- Don’t allow aggression. If your pet shows signs of aggression to you or your partner, you should not permit your dog in the bed.
- Your dog loves you and your scent. If sleeping in the same bed is a no-go for your situation, try a dog bed on the floor in your bedroom with a piece of your clothing in it to soothe your pet.
- If your dog finds his sleeping arrangements are not to his liking and incessantly barks or whines, use an ultrasonic hand-held training tool to interrupt their vocalizations. The high-frequency sound will catch your dog’s attention allowing you to give a command like “quiet.” If your pet settles down, offer praise.
The decision to welcome your dog into your bed is yours to make. Providing you, your partner (if you have one), and your dog wake up in the morning feeling well-rested, there’s no reason you all can’t sleep in harmony.