About 62 percent of American dog and cat owners keep their animals in the house at night, and of those, about half the cats and one-third of the dogs spend the night on the bed according to the findings of a survey from the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association.
Passionate pooch owners are divided on this issue, and feelings run deep. There are those who swear by their pets and would not have them sleep anywhere other than on their beds, and there are those who just swear at the thought of having their beloved Lassie sharing the bed with them.
Who is right? What are the issues?
Pros of Sharing a Bed With Your Dog
There is scientific evidence to suggest that sharing your life with a pet will increase your years. And what better way to bond with your pet than sharing a cuddle at night?
There is also evidence to suggest that brains subconsciously interact, even in sleep, and the peaceful waves emitted by your loved pet can positively influence your brain.
Cons and Complications
Health and Safety Risks
Disease, dirt, and fleas can be picked up by your cute little puppy and brought into your bed.
There's also a danger factor, especially if you have young children. Even the most good-natured dog can snap in self-defense when startled. A child running past furniture or beds where a dog is resting may unwittingly surprise the animal.
The tragic result of an elevated dog’s teeth coming into contact with a small child’s face can be physically traumatic for the child but may cost a startled dog its life.
Loss of Quality of Sleep
Disturbed sleep and restless nights are another bonus that studies show to be gained from sharing your bed with a pet.
It's not just dogs, either. Behaviorist at the Veterinary Specialty Center in Lynnwood, Dr. Lynne Seibert, says that the most common problem with sleeping with cats is that they don't sleep.
"Most of the issues I see are about exuberant play," she says. "They've got a captive audience and end up pouncing and scratching." As is to be expected from an animal that spends all day sleeping!
Family Strife and Jealousy
Jealousy, aggressive behavior, and family divisions have also been attributed to pet sleeping arrangements.
There are many stories of marriages placed in jeopardy because the family pet has assumed the role as leader of the pack and dominates the bedroom as well.
How can you prevent this from happening in your bedroom?
Cesar Milan on the Pack Relationship
Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, says, “You may prefer to have your dog sleep in bed with you. It is perfectly natural for a dog to sleep with other pack members, and it is also a powerful way to bond with your dog. But don't forget the rules, boundaries, and limitations; it's your bed—not your dog's.”
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You must have your “pack” relationship properly established before considering allowing your dog to sleep with you. This means educating your pet that sleeping with you is a privilege, not a right, and that when you say “off,” they must vacate the bed (a married couple needs some privacy after all!).
What Experts Say
Carol Byrnes gives her opinion on this issue in the following article.
Should You Sleep With Your Dog?
There is much written by experts that suggests that allowing your dog in your bed sends mixed messages, that it lowers your pack status, that a dog who shares a bed considers himself an equal on the pack pole.
On the other hand, plenty of non-experts report that their dogs slept with them for years without a hitch.
Here's my opinion: It depends on the dog and the human.
If you have a healthy working relationship with your dog based on mutual trust and respect and you don't mind waking up with a dog's tail in your face or paws braced against your back, by all means, sleep with your well-adjusted dog - under the covers if you want!
It's not the well-adjusted, respectful dogs who should be banished, but the ones who don't see the humans in their lives as leaders, dogs who would dare talk back or bite you, in (or out of) the bed, who don't belong there. I think it's a shame that great dogs who don't need to be banished are punished for the ones who can't handle it.
The bed doesn't cause the problem, but it can certainly magnify a problem that is already there.
If you are having difficulties with your relationship with your dog, if he is bossy, bratty and disrespectful, then he should not be in your bed at night.
The dog who steals sandwiches from your child's hand and knocks him over in doorways shouldn't share your child's pillow, even if he would be fine sharing yours.
Puppies should learn how to sleep alone so they don't grow up clingy and co-dependent or develop the mistaken impression that the bed is a right, not a privilege.
Dog behavior specialists like Dr. Ian Dunbar, Ph.D., and British behaviorist John Rogerson quote horrifying statistics that the most severe bites to dog owners occur in the owner's bed.
Dogs who would take advantage of their owners when standing upright will certainly take more advantage when their owners are prone.
A bossy dog who thinks it's HIS bed and he's sharing his space with you, might also think he has the right to correct you for bumping his highness in the bed, with dire consequences.
If your dog thinks he runs your house, get professional help for that issue. It's not "The Bed" that is the real problem—it's just a symptom of a more serious issue: an unhealthy relationship.
Velcro-dogs may not be good candidates for bed sharing.
If your dog is clingy and co-dependent, or if he suffers from separation anxiety, he should not be in your bed. A dog who suffers great stress when you are away needs to practice feeling secure when not in your direct presence.
If he is your ever-present shadow, whining because you are on the other side of a shower door, he needs to learn to be ok with separation. Sleeping plastered against you all night only feeds this co-dependence. Nighttime is a great time for him to practice feeling secure with you out of reach.
Some Good Guidelines
• Evaluate your relationship. Are you a good leader? Is your dog emotionally secure?
• Your dog should wait for permission and sleep where you tell him to.
• If you have to be careful to avoid disturbing his highness in bed for fear of eliciting a growl or a bite, boot him out of the whole room, not just the bed, and get help from a behavior professional.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2008 Dean
Do You Sleep With Your Dog?
Choochoo on September 08, 2020:
My dog sleeps with me, and I personally think it is a really good bonding technique, and it has definitely made him more attached to me. So sorry mum, you are now number two!!
J elliston on May 16, 2019:
Hi my dog has starred my bed since a puppy 8 years ago. But I can't tolerate her snoring anymore. I have made a bed for her outside my bedroom. I feel so guilty because she didn't understand why this has happened
She didn't wiyne for me I can hear her snorting. Do you think she will be upset or will get used to it. I love her so much but I can't sleep with the snoring
Lisa on October 12, 2018:
Our dog never liked to sleep with us for long she liked her bed but lately that’s changed she has slept with us a few times and likes it but still likes her bed when she feels like it
Ashley Seaboyer on September 28, 2018:
Ha! Hilarious. This is so cool to know that my French Bulldog puppy can actually sleep on my bed with me!! Bring on the snores. lol
Llaa on September 27, 2018:
Sometimes I try to get my dog on my bed, but he won’t let me put him on
Dean (author) from New Zealand on March 26, 2018:
You must have a large bed! If sleeping with your dogs helps you get a better nights sleep they will probably help you live longer too!
Darrell on March 24, 2018:
My dogs have always slept in our bed, we have 3 medium size dogs and have never had any problems. We sleep great and feel safer with them all in bed with us.
Larry on January 11, 2018:
My buddy sleeps on bed, keeps his head on my legs during night, mornings if I sleep in, will lay and look at me to open eyes. Then its a good tail wagging and rolls all over me. 11 years ok.
Chichi on November 04, 2017:
I let my Chihuahua sleep with me, he has been ever since he was a pup. I think this creates a since of trust and helps bond us, especially when times get tough.
Tonyanna on October 15, 2017:
This was really helpful and spot on.. my pit is a rescue an now sleeps with me and my kids at bottom of bed with kids and next to me in mine. She always waits for permission. But when I first got her I set my dominance down. She would bit play too hard so I tackled her like a dog and bit her back and held her there for a min while looking her in eye. Ppl think I'm crazy but she always listens now and is perfect. I can't believe I'm lucky enough to have her..
Joanne walters on May 15, 2017:
Occasionally as a treat but they mostly in own beds they are only sleeping in or on my bed during day when I'm in room but they get sent to own beds before 7 as I am always up early for work at 4 am they only sleep in bed with me if I'm lonely scared or like i say just as a treat
Tracy on October 22, 2016:
My two German shepherds sleep with me in MY bed! Must admit it's an itchy nights sleep due to the volume of fur haha, but its my bed and they both know when I say " my bed" they soon leave.
Bruce on April 28, 2016:
I hate when my dogs in bed with us that means there will be no intimacy with my wife!
cheryl on April 27, 2014:
My yorkie sleeps with me when bf is not around on a king bed but when bf is in bed he sleeps in his own bed otherwise he'd growl at us if we accidentally touched him at night
Laura on January 22, 2014:
It totally depends on the dog and relationship. My dog struzzo ( bichon) sleeps on my head. He is respectful, non intrusive and non dominating. He snores some but whatever. He moves to the bottom when he is hot. He is non Aggressive and if I told him to "go to the bottom" of the bed he would. I don't find it a problem, it's comforting.
daisy on January 02, 2014:
I like my German shepherd puppy I have her win she is a little puppy her name is daisy
sharise on January 02, 2014:
I do not lit my dog sleeping with me
juccy on March 24, 2013:
thanks for the hint
Tawny on July 29, 2012:
I sleep with my 80 pound Australian Shepard every night on my twin sized bed and I have no problem with it, except when he has nightmares and starts yelping in his sleep. I'm a light sleeper so it wakes me up right away, other than that it's great (:
jessica peirson on March 17, 2012:
i have been training my dog for weeks to sleep with me its gone great!!!!!!
Germanshephard123 on March 13, 2012:
I love having my dog sleep in my bed. She's a 65 pound german shephard. its funny because she's only a year old and will be going nuts but as soon as I turn the lights out and shut my eyes she goes to bed. She doesn't disturb me again until I open my eyes. Sometime I wake up and she's nose to nose with me waiting for me to wake up. Once I do, its game time again.
However, when my boyfriend is in town she gets the boot and sleeps on her bed. my bed isn't big enough for us all!
Jack on August 09, 2011:
Try three labradors and my wife...agonizing for the first hour until everyone passes out. Needless to say, we have the biggest king size bed you can find!
Alfie on April 05, 2011:
I have the same case as gawn, my dog sleeps with me but when i wake up in the morning, he's already under the bed.
Dean (author) from New Zealand on June 17, 2010:
That is crazy lol
MJO on February 16, 2010:
We have a king size water bed where myself, my husband, my 85 lb yellow lab, 85 lb pit bull, and 120lb German Shepherd. Do you think they make a larger bed?
Dean (author) from New Zealand on July 20, 2009:
If I could make wife sleep just outside the door I might get some sleep too! I don't think snoring dogs would be any good for me.
Thank you for your comment Yam :)
Yam Erez on July 20, 2009:
I'm a Caesar fan, but never heard him mention anything about where dogs should sleep. Both my present and last Labs like(d) sleeping on the floor of my bedroom. The snoring keeps my husband up, so we sleep with our bedroom door closed, except when he's away, when I allow Luke in. Never had a problem with it. Alfie used to sleep on my bed, and I never had a problem with that either. Besides, we live in the desert, and our bedroom is air conditioned, so I'm not surprised the dogs want to be in there. I feel like my dog has successfully bonded with me without being too clingy. My husband reports that when I'm away, Luke drives him crazy at night, lying just outside the bedroom door wanting in. A shame, but Husband just doesn't sleep well with Luke in the room. Well, I've rambled, but just wanted to offer my 2 cents.
Dean (author) from New Zealand on June 17, 2008:
It sounds like you have well disciplined dog. They make much better pets when everyone knows their place don't they.
Peter_Sobczak on June 17, 2008:
I like your hub. I let my dog sleep in the bed with me, but he knows the boundaries. He never takes up my space. And if I ever want him down, I just say down and he gets right down.
Dean (author) from New Zealand on June 10, 2008:
Thanks for coming out of the closet :)
We are certainly lucky to have such a great place for our pets.
SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on June 04, 2008:
Great hub and thanks for sharing! I am guilty of having allowed my cats and dogs sleep on my bed. I cannot have a cat where I live now :(.
Dean (author) from New Zealand on June 03, 2008:
Thanks Sparkling Jewel.
I can't see any reason the dog wouldn't have liked you :(
Growing up with animals teaches kids a lot I think. We are fortunate to be able bring our kids up surrounded by animals.
SparklingJewel from upper midwest on June 02, 2008:
Great Hub Pet World!! Keep up the good work writing and giving your kids a great life with animals.
i haven't had a dog or cat in years, but have parakeets...no problems with sleeping issues there ! I love Cesar Millan...I agree with everything I have ever heard him say on his show. It reminded me of the years I had a dog.
Animals vary so much. I had a friend once who had a dog that did not like me, for reasons unknown to me, I'm pretty cool actually! anyway this dog never got any better toward me and became aggressive with me. I asked my friend toput him away when I was around, but she would not. Needless to say, that was the end of our friendship.
Dean (author) from New Zealand on June 01, 2008:
Thanks Gawn Fishin.
8 minutes is pretty generous of him :)
I wonder if I can train my wife like that .. it would save having to hold on to my share of the blankets every night!
Gawn Fishin' from Vancouver, BC on June 01, 2008:
My dog sleeps with me for 8 minutes every night. I believe he thinks I need him there, and moves to the floor when he thinks I'm asleep. Being an assist dog, he has a few control issues. They are all for my benefit. I look forward to more of your hubs!