Should I Let My Dog Sleep In My Bed?
September 8th, 2020
Table of Contents
Dog owners are split just about halfway when it comes to whether they allow dogs on their beds.
Just under half of dog owners allow this practice, according to a survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association. To further break it down by size, 62% of small breed, 41% of medium breed, and 32% of large breed owners are cuddling with their pups at night.
So who’s right and who’s wrong? Can letting your dog sleep in your bed potentially result in more problems than benefits?
Like many other common doggy questions, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer here. Personally, I let Yuna sleep in the bed with me. But whether or not you condone this practice is highly dependent on your dog’s personality and tendencies.
So to help you decide if you should let your dog sleep in your bed, let’s go over the most common reasons both for and against this practice.
6 Reasons Against Letting Your Dog Sleep In Your Bed
We’ll start with the cons. Here are six things to consider before letting your dog sleep in your bed.
1. Your Dog May Have Trouble Understanding Boundaries
Humans should probably sleep in human beds, and dogs should probably sleep in dog beds. Establishing boundaries in the house, especially for a new dog, is very important.
There may be areas of the house you want dog-free. Many people forbid dogs not only on their beds, but on sofas, tables, etc. Allowing a dog onto a bed may cause them to think hopping on other pieces of furniture is okay as well.
Moreover, to get onto a human bed, dogs need to jump. This is undesired behavior in many cases.
You don’t want dogs jumping on other furniture in the house; and you definitely don’t want dogs jumping on other humans!
Ultimately, keeping your dog off the bed can help them learn house boundaries and discourage bad behaviors. This can be especially important for dogs that live in cramped city apartments!
2. It May Worsen Separation Anxiety
Though your dog would really rather be with you at all times, this isn’t always possible. They need to learn to be comfortable being alone.
It’s still up in the air whether letting your dog sleep with you will cause them to develop separation anxiety. However, there’s growing consensus that if a dog already has separation anxiety, the additional 8 hours of nighttime closeness will do nothing to cure it.
Fixing separation anxiety is all about gradually teaching your dog to be okay by themselves. If they can’t stand sleeping alone at night, they won’t be able to handle you leaving the house.
If your dog already has separation anxiety, you’re not doing them any favors letting them sleep in your bed at night. Take baby steps to ease the anxiety–perhaps start by putting the dog bed next to yours, and slowly move it further away.
3. Your Dog Can Develop Defensive Aggression
It’s possible that your dog sleeps on your bed so often that they associate the bed as their own. Sounds ludicrous, but this kind of protective aggression is actually a common occurrence among dogs.
Some dogs are very territorial, and once they establish that the bed is their space, any intrusion (even by you) could be met with growls and aggressive behavior.
However, this issue usually comes up in conjunction with other ways owners mistreat or confuse their dogs.
Resting with your dog is a natural, soothing activity and it doesn’t make sense that this would develop defensive aggression on its own.
In fact, the trend here is that sleeping with a dog by itself will never be the cause of any problem. But it can and will magnify problems that are already present.
4. A Dog Can Be Dirty! And They Shed A Lot!
Not only CAN a dog be dirty… they almost surely will be dirty!
Dogs pick up all sorts of dirty stuff outside. In fact, the dirt on their paws is probably the cleanest thing they bring home.
I personally like a clean bed, so Yuna isn’t allowed on until she’s received a full wipe down with one of our favorite EarthBath grooming wipes.
But even a clean dog will shed lots. Want to avoid dirty, fur-infested sheets? Keep the human bed off limits.
5. Your Sleep Can Be Affected
Dogs toss and turn too. Not every dog sleeps like a little angel.
Many dogs snore as well. I’m very familiar with this firsthand–Yuna is loud snorer herself.
If you’re intent on letting your dog on your bed, know that it could be you that’s sacrificing your own z’s!
6. In Rare Cases: Accidents, Bites, etc.
As dogs toss and turn, you might get a paw to the face. But in some individual cases (for example, in this Reddit post), dogs may even bite their owners in their sleep.
Many dogs have a quick startle reflex. If you suddenly jerk in your sleep or inadvertently crush their tail or paw, they are not going to just peacefully wake up and tell you the problem.
Instead, they may bark if you’re lucky, and bite otherwise. Don’t be the unfortunate dog owner to have to take an emergency hospital visit.
In addition, even the best house-trained dogs may have the occasional accident. Though all these scenarios are rare, know that you’re taking on some extra risk.
If your dog…
- has yet to learn proper house manners,
- has separation anxiety,
- or shows defensive aggression,
… it’s probably best to keep them off your bed for now. It’s a good idea to find a professional trainer to work with you through these issues.
In addition, if you…
- want a clean, furless bed,
- want a better night’s sleep,
- or want to avoid accidents in bed
… you may also choose to forbid your dog from your bed, for your own sake!
Top Reason To Let Your Dog Sleep In Your Bed
Having covered the potential problems, let’s turn to the positive.
Traditional dominance theory proponents focus on the “alpha dog” concept. They often say that letting dogs in your bed fails to establish you as the alpha.
At the other more “progressive” end of the spectrum, there are those that promote above all else the unique relationship between human and dog. They still emphasize the importance of keeping your dog well-trained, but allow practices like sleeping in your bed to bolster the relationship.
They argue that you can have the best of both worlds–your dog can sleep with you, AND your dog can understand proper boundaries and behavior. The two issues aren’t exclusive.
Why does your dog enjoy being on your bed? Because they want to be close to you! And though a dog is only part of your life, you are their entire life.
To them, you radiate security and warmth. They feel at ease when they’re close to you. Let them express it!
This strengthened bond with your dog is the top reason to let your dog sleep in your bed. There are also numerous scientifically-backed benefits–such as more released oxytocin, lowered blood pressure, and reduced stress and anxiety.
As long as your dog is well-behaved and doesn’t have separation anxiety or defensive aggression, it’s probably not harmful to let them sleep in your bed. In fact, it may even be beneficial for both of you!
Yuna sleeps snugly with me on our bed. As we slowly go from summer to winter in Seattle, I won’t be needing to turn on my heater at night!