Dogs Sleeping in Our Beds

When I brought my puppy, Soleil, home, I put her crate next to my bed for her to sleep in, all decked out with cozy blankets and a snuggly toy. I was so naive. Soleil didn’t sleep a single night in it, and now, three years later, I’m pretty sure her crate is somewhere in my garage (likely next to her home grooming kit). photo_(2)

 

Many dog owners love having their dog sleep in bed with them. They’re warm, cuddly and provide a sense of security. But is it good for them to sleep in bed with you? What does it do to a dog’s psyche? What does it do to our psyche? What are the risks and benefits of having our dog sleep in bed with us?

 

Steamroller Risk
Soleil weighs six pounds, and it’s taken some training on my part to sleep more carefully since we share my bed. I’ve accidentally rolled over onto her in my sleep, which is not only dangerous for her, but it causes me to sleep lighter. People with smaller dogs need to be very careful not to crush them while sleeping! If you have a high bed, you should be cautious with dogs of any sizes as they are at risk of falling and injuring themselves. Pet steps and ramps are readily available at pet supply stores to help protect your dogs.

Emotional Health
Both humans and dogs can benefit emotionally and physically from sleeping in bed together. According to a New York Times article, physical touch, canine or otherwise, raises oxytocin in humans, which gives us a feeling of contentment. Studies show that human and dog brain waves can sync during sleep, causing a troubled human sleeper to match a zonked-out canine, resulting in better sleep. Households with dogs are said to be happier overall. Some researchers believe dogs even help to combat depression in humans.

 

King / Queen of the Heap
The Dog Whisperer himself, Cesar Millan, says in his book it’s perfectly fine to have your dog sleep with you under consistent parameters. Never let your dog come up on your bed as he pleases; he must be invited. Don’t let your dog sleep or lie above your head. The highest point is reserved for the alpha or pack leader, so allowing this tells the dog that they are in charge. This is not only a nightmare for obedience, but it makes the dog feel they are responsible for our safety, which could lead to aggressive behavior toward others in the home.

 

BOTTOM LINE: Sharing a bed with a dog can be a positive experience, even beneficial to our health, if you set boundaries, ensure safety and remain consistent.