There was a time when sleep was a blissful experience. You slide into your bed, which is all made up with freshly laundered sheets, pillowcases and blankets — there’s no scent or texture that is more relaxing than this in the world. You could quietly spend time reading while bundled up in your fragrant sheets, or perhaps get a little busy with your partner for as long as you like.
Yes, your bed is your own personal sanctuary — that private space where you can get much-deserved comfort and peace.
Of course, this was all before you got a dog — one that has also learned that your bed is a little piece of paradise, and now sleeps there next to you every night.
Cuddling with a furry pal
Generally, deciding to allow your pet (or pets) to get into bed with you every night is really just a matter of personal preference.
For some vets and dog behavior specialists, letting dogs sleep on their humans’ bed is discouraged because this can cause a dog to develop a more dominating attitude. Since most pet owners are taught to assume an alpha status over their dogs to curb any dominant and aggressive issues, they view a dog’s habit of sleeping on their master’s bed as a trigger for the dog to feel that he is on equal footing with a human, and will thus refuse to follow commands or demonstrate calm behavior.
For many pet owners, however, it all depends on how well they know their dogs and how these pets act when they’re on the bed.
If a dog simply jumps onto the bed, turns around a couple of times, lies down and promptly dozes off, then letting him stay won’t be a problem. Some pooches simply want to stay close to their human while dozing.
There are other dogs, however, that may exhibit some guarding behaviors while they’re on the bed. They may be perfectly happy to lie down next to their “mom,” but when their “dad” moves to get into bed as well, they begin to snap and snarl at him. In such (and similar) instances, it would be better to train the dog to sleep elsewhere — perhaps on his own pillow on the floor, in another room, or downstairs.
Still undecided? Here are some things to expect when you let dogs get into bed:
1. Your bed will become covered with fur and dander. Even the cleanest, most frequently bathed dog will shed fur and dander as he moves and rolls around your bed, so be prepared to constantly beat your pillows, sheets and blankets, and to change them more often.
Because of this, you may want to re-think letting dogs onto the bed if you have allergies. On the other hand, it could help a person build a stronger tolerance to pet fur. Take note of your reactions to the fur and consult your physician.
2. Dogs have sleeping behaviors you should take note of. Most dogs like to turn around and around before settling on a spot to lie down on. Others keep getting up to move to another spot. Once settled, some dogs may spend several minutes scratching, licking or shaking themselves before they go to sleep. You might have a dog that likes to snuggle as closely as possible to you, while others are content to lie down by your feet. And like people, some dogs snore — loudly.
You have to consider if these will prevent you from getting sufficient sleep yourself.
3. If you have older dogs or dogs that are not yet fully toilet trained, be prepared to wake up to a little accident every now and then. You could train your dog a bit more before you let him back on the bed, or opt to let him sleep in a crate or a different room.
4. Your dog may not be asleep the whole time you are. Dogs tend to get up and walk around when they wake up. Make sure that your room is properly dog-proofed — put away things that he can reach and chew on, like shoes, toiletries, clothes, and electric cords.
Observe how your dog behaves in bed and talk to your partner or other family members who may be affected by this. If all’s well, you might just find a new sleeping companion in your dog.