I can always tell when Wink feels a little bit under the weather because that’s how much more he’ll bury himself under the covers. Just one of the many signs that are starting to pile up that his best days are in the rearview mirror. But that’s a subject for another post—how to prepare yourself to let go of a beloved pet…
This post is in answer to the oft-asked question: “Should I let my dog sleep with me?” And is it okay to let my dog sleep on the bed?” Obviously, I’m in the camp of yea-sayers. There are still many in the nay-sayers camp who think a dog should not even be allowed to sleep in the bedroom with you. Don’t even get me started on that one…
You’ll hear some argue about maintaining alpha status, etc., etc. I would prefer to describe the appropriate human-dog relationship as providing consistent leadership and clear communication.
But, yes, if you have an aggressive or resource-guarding dog, then you may want to enlist the help of a good positive trainer (one who doesn’t use harsh or punishing “corrections.”) to help you determine what the best training and protocol may be.
But this article will assume that your dog is neither aggressive nor has issues with resource guarding which, thankfully, leaves the vast majority of dogs.
In that case, there are many studies that suggest there are huge benefits to both you and your dog for co-sleeping.
Pros for having your dog sleep in your bed.
- It makes you feel happy.
- Research has proven that the rhythmic sound of your dog’s gentle snoring, breathing, and heartbeat can lower your heart rate.
- It makes you feel more secure.
- You sleep better.
- A new study shows that not only do both human and canine heart rates slow when we’re together, but our heart rhythms actually synchronize. This promotes greater relaxation for both.
- It helps reduce loneliness and depression.
- It can strengthen your bond with your dog.
Cons for having your dog sleep in your bed (but instead sleep in her own dog bed in your bedroom).
- Either you or your dog has arthritis.
- Your quality of sleep is negatively affected.
- You have allergies and/or can’t deal with a lot of dog hair on your bed.
- Your dog is old and climbing up or down from the bed may cause a fall.
- Your dog’s vision is going and climbing up or down from the bed may cause a fall.
To those who think you’re “spoiling” your dog by letting them sleep with you.
I can’t say it any better than Kelly Conaboy did in the Atlantic article “Is It Ok to Let My Dog Sleep in My Bed,” so I’ll let her speak for me as well.
“In my opinion, eat shit. Excuse me; that was a little heated. I’ll start again. In my opinion, eat shi—ah! Oh gosh. Okay. My apologies. In … my … opinion … —gah, oh no … eat … oh jeez.”
(Okay, I included the above mostly because I can’t stop laughing every time I read it. And because the chances of someone with the Alpha dog roll mentality who might be offended by that ever stumbling across my blog is exceedingly remote.)
I agree with the AKC: For a well-adjusted, well-behaved dog, it’s highly unlikely that sleeping in your bed or bedroom will do anything except delight your dog, comfort you, and enhance the dog-owner bond.
At the End of the Day…
Even though I do some joking here, I really don’t judge people who decide to keep their dogs off their beds or their furniture. To each their own. But for me, and according to science, the benefits of co-sleeping with our pets are clear.
What I have found with all of my many dogs throughout the years is that they all like to start the night sleeping with me but then prefer to have their own dog beds in the bedroom to retire to when they’ve had their fill. Win-win.