Dogs aren’t just pets. They’re also members of the family. A great deal of the time, they’re literally referred to as “fur babies.” And they need to be treated as such. Right?
What happens on those stormy nights when the wind is howling, the thunder is growling and the rain is beating against the windows? Your dog will be rushing toward you and your bed more than likely. So… you let them in. But what happens the next night when they want more cuddles and not of the couch kind?
It's been debated for years whether or not you should allow your dog to sleep in your bed. Some claim that allowing your dog to lie on your bed is both healthy and safe. Others believe it to be risky since they may roll over onto the dog or receive a paw to the face.
Let’s dig under the covers and reveal both sides of the argument: To let your puppy into bed or not.
The Pros and Cons of Sleeping in Bed with a Dog
There is no end to the line of people that will tell you that you shouldn't ever let your dog lie on your bed. You'll hear all kinds of justifications, from allergies to establishing your dog as the alpha in the group. But sometimes it's just impossible to ignore those puppy cuddles!
Letting your dog cuddle up to you in bed—is that really so bad? The potential benefits and drawbacks of sleeping with your dog will all be discussed so you can decide for yourself.
Pro: Dogs Help With Mental Health
We’ve discussed how animals in general - dogs specifically - are great for people with stress and anxiety. The same goes for those cold nights when you need your pooch to protect you from bad dreams and dark thoughts.
Most dogs are light sleepers. They can alert you to any threat that might be lurking. Just be aware that sometimes those “threats” are simply a raccoon trying to rifle through your garbage.
While they may warm your bed, they can also provide peace of mind and make you feel safe while actually helping to stay safe.
Con: Snuggles are Fine on the Couch, Not in Bed
News Flash: A lot of dogs run hot! Especially those with furry coats. That means they can get overheated. Or it could mean that you do.
Also, while they are good at sensing threats, if you make a wild unexpected movement in the middle of the night, they could take that as a threat. They could growl, bark or even snap at what they consider to be a threat. No matter how friendly you are with each other in the bright light of day.
While this can be a bonding experience with your dog, it could actually have the complete opposite effect and make you feel the same way you did about your first roommate after college.
Pro: Well-Trained Dogs Will Bond Further
Speaking of bonding…
Training, spending time with your pooches, socializing them - all of these things are great leaps forward in making sure that your dog is well-adjusted and fully bonded with you and your family. But sleeping with your dog? That can even deepen this connection.
Some people believe that where they choose to sleep is a measure of skill and power. Some dog trainers think that if a dog is allowed to sleep at a similar height as the individuals living in the home, the dog will see this as being on equal ground with the human.
Others argue that as long as the human requests the dog to join them on the bed and the dog is aware that he or she must leave the bed when asked, then it’s OK for the dog to sleep in the bed.
The non-definitive answer to this question is: It depends on you and your dog. Do they listen? Are they calm? Do they respect your space as well as their own? There are studies that show that even with differing cycles of sleep, you and your dog can help each other rest better. This can, in turn, grow the bond between the both of you.
Con: Differing Sleep Schedules
You might want to think twice about getting a dog altogether if you occasionally enjoy sleeping in. Not to mention allowing them to sleep in your bed... Be prepared for huge kisses waking you early in the morning if they have the freedom to sleep in your bed and you don't get up on time.
Medically speaking, dogs and people have different sleep cycles. Dogs are polyphasic sleepers. Humans are, generally speaking, monophasic. What does this mean? Pet owners sleep one phase a night.
Your puppy will go through several bouts of sleep at night. They wake up and then fall back asleep again and again. Your dog could shuffle and stir so many times that you won’t be able to sleep through the night like your body needs.
Con: Your Dog Has Specific Medical Needs
We know, we know. Two cons back to back?!?
There are dogs, such as pugs and bulldogs, that breathe differently. This can become an issue if enveloped in a sea of arms, legs and covers in the middle of the night.
A dog who suffers from musculoskeletal problems, such as arthritis, may find it difficult to clamber onto the bed. If they've been conditioned to fall asleep with you every night, they can find it difficult to transition to sleeping alone.
Aging joints are not properly supported by soft bedding either. Dogs in pain can prefer soft cushioning over a firm surface that is low to the ground. Remember that senior dogs may have incontinence. When the dog lies down, its weak, older bladder leaks. It happens with kids too. This shouldn’t be a surprise.
So… Should your dog be allowed to sleep in the bed with you? Some of you might not like this answer. But maybe? It depends on you. It depends on your dog and its needs. Not to mention the size of your bed.
Whatever you choose, it's critical that you establish and maintain a schedule for your dog. They'll be able to adapt to their timetable and sound sleeping habits as a result.
The truth of the matter is, if you’ve lived with your dog long enough and understand its physical and emotional needs, make the call. Just know that whatever you choose could affect not only you but your pup's quality of life.
They’re worth your consideration. And, in turn, a few inches at the end of your bed. Or with certain puppy pals, the entire middle is eclipsed by their starfishing.
Jenna and the JLDD Team