Of course, we dog lovers say! Dogs should absolutely sleep in our beds with us! They are after all part of the family right? And when they are as small as mine are – 3 to 5 pounds a pop – there is certainly more than enough room for all of us.
There are dog trainers that advocate using “sleep with me” as a sometimes thing, rather than an always thing. I have to admit, my rescued dog, Jabberwocky (named after her monstrous tendencies when first we met!), suffers from hyper reactivity to, well most everything. Noises, other dogs, not getting the toy, not having the food bowl put down fast enough – all threats to her, real or imagined. She definitely suffered a lack of socialization as a baby dog – that’s because she got herself a broken leg exactly when she would have otherwise been coached through the typical experiences of being a dog in a downtown urban world.
After many months of ineffective training on my own, I asked a professional for help. Lisa Marshall did right by us. She put us on a structured and regular daily regime. Sit before feeding, wait your turn for the toy, focus on the treat instead of the noise, all good. I followed instructions diligently. But I could not bring myself to have her sleep somewhere other than in my bed.
Should Dogs Sleep On The Bed – All The Time?
Eventually, for her sake I told myself, I implemented that last step in the regime. That meant her going to bed every night in HER own safe place, which happened to be her crate. Her crate is in the next room, but ours is an open concept so really, its within earshot, but not a direct sightline.
We do have dedicated cuddle time in the morning before we started our day, when she is INVITED up on the bed.
Within days, the small incremental improvements became much bigger incremental improvements. She started to lose more of her monstrous ways, more quickly. The sleeping regime had the added benefit of her being much more responsive and respectful of the rest of the training work we were doing in other areas.
It was the single most impactful change that we made amongst the many Lisa recommended. Jabber is more confident that she has a reliable owner who can watch her back in otherwise scary situations.
Over the long period of time that it will take to make Jabber a happy, non-reactive, self confident dog, we may increase the amount of time in bed, or perhaps have the occasional weekend night sleepover. But for now, her sleeping in her bed and me in mine is really working wonders for us both.
Here are some instances when dog training experts suggest that your dog shouldn’t share your bed, or at least not share it automatically.
* If you are housetraining, because you can not supervise when you are out like a light – the end of the bed for a wee one may be plenty far enough from his sleeping place. Confinement – whether in a crate, behind baby gates on a room, or being in a small room in the house — between bathroom breaks makes housetraining much more efficient. Puppy learns faster when there are obvious guidelines in place.
* If your dog is guarding – the bed, the pillow, you, your spouse. Location guarding is like any other type of aggressive guarding behaviour – it needs to be taken seriously, and likely with professional help. That’s part of what moved me to get me and Jabber some help, and its part of why getting her out of the bed helped in other areas too. Being a demanding dog falls into the same general camp – demanding play, demanding to be picked up, demanding dinner. Your dog does not respect you, so its time to show them that you can take care of their needs by being a reliable leader.
* If your dog is easily startled, and lashes out as a defence, it can be unduly risky to have your dog in bed with you. Especially so when there are multiple dogs. We know of one doggy mom whose two fur-babies got into it because one dog didn’t see the other under the covers when they moved spots. One of the poor guys received a serious eye injury. Consider putting a dog bed (or two!) on top of your bed. It provides natural bolsters that both separate the sleeping beauties, and allow them to know where each other are consistently.
* If your dog is a farty dog, snores worse than your partners, or becomes incontinent with age or health issues – it’ll be your call as to how much laundry, “music” and aroma you can sleep with, and certainly exceptions are often made for the seniors that have earned their place despite some leaks; incontinence pads from a medical supplier can be a lovely compromise.
* If he doesn’t want to sleep in the bed – maybe his thick coat is already too warm. Or maybe like my dog McGee, he just can’t abide the human tossing and turning that comes with worrying about delivering the kibble. In any event, no reason to force him if he’s got another option he likes better.
* If you are a human that prefers every creature have their own sprawl-a-thon, i.e. if you don’t feel like it. Easy enough to make a wonderful alternative out of old pillows, used quilts, high end dog beds (careful, its easy to get addicted to dog beds, my personal downfall) and the occasional worn t-shirt to make pup feel like a king in their digs.
Sources: Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, The Dog Trainer; Lisa Marshall, Master Trainer