Pros and Cons of Allowing Your Dog to Sleep in Your Bed

Updated on February 22, 2016

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.

Then 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

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 influence your brain for the good.

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 of dogs 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, ether. 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.”

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 an Expert Says

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, PhD 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.

© CAROL A. BYRNES "DIAMONDS IN THE RUFF" Training for Dogs & Their People

Would You Sleep With Me?

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.

Do You Sleep With Your Dog?

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    • profile image

      Lisa 

      5 weeks ago

      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

    • profile image

      Ashley Seaboyer 

      7 weeks ago

      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

    • profile image

      Llaa 

      7 weeks ago

      Sometimes I try to get my dog on my bed, but he won’t let me put him on

    • PetMemorialWorld profile imageAUTHOR

      Dean 

      7 months ago from New Zealand

      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!

    • profile image

      Darrell 

      8 months ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Larry 

      10 months ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Chichi 

      12 months ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Tonyanna 

      13 months ago

      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..

    • profile image

      Joanne walters 

      18 months ago

      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

    • profile image

      Tracy 

      2 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Bruce 

      2 years ago

      I hate when my dogs in bed with us that means there will be no intimacy with my wife!

    • profile image

      cheryl 

      4 years ago

      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

    • profile image

      Laura 

      4 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      daisy 

      4 years ago

      I like my German shepherd puppy I have her win she is a little puppy her name is daisy

    • profile image

      sharise 

      4 years ago

      I do not lit my dog sleeping with me

    • profile image

      juccy 

      5 years ago

      thanks for the hint

    • profile image

      Tawny 

      6 years ago

      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 (:

    • profile image

      jessica peirson 

      6 years ago

      i have been training my dog for weeks to sleep with me its gone great!!!!!!

    • profile image

      Germanshephard123 

      6 years ago

      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!

    • profile image

      Jack 

      7 years ago

      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!

    • profile image

      Alfie 

      7 years ago

      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.

    • PetMemorialWorld profile imageAUTHOR

      Dean 

      8 years ago from New Zealand

      That is crazy lol

    • profile image

      MJO 

      8 years ago

      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?

    • PetMemorialWorld profile imageAUTHOR

      Dean 

      9 years ago from New Zealand

      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 :)

    • profile image

      Yam Erez 

      9 years ago

      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.

    • PetMemorialWorld profile imageAUTHOR

      Dean 

      10 years ago from New Zealand

      It sounds like you have well disciplined dog. They make much better pets when everyone knows their place don't they.

    • profile image

      Peter_Sobczak 

      10 years ago

      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.

    • PetMemorialWorld profile imageAUTHOR

      Dean 

      10 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks for coming out of the closet :)

      We are certainly lucky to have such a great place for our pets.

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 

      10 years ago from Southern California, USA

      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 :(.

    • PetMemorialWorld profile imageAUTHOR

      Dean 

      10 years ago from New Zealand

      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 profile image

      SparklingJewel 

      10 years ago from upper midwest

      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.

    • PetMemorialWorld profile imageAUTHOR

      Dean 

      10 years ago from New Zealand

      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' profile image

      Gawn Fishin' 

      10 years ago from Vancouver, BC

      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!

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