In many pet homes, the family dog is the king or queen of the castle. Some owners spoil their furry friend to no end — and that can include letting pets sleep in the same bed as them. From a strictly medical standpoint, however, is this really a good idea?
As a medical expert for StudyFinds, I looked all over for the pros and cons of letting your dog sleep in bed with you. Unfortunately for many dog owners, the cons win – the pros aren’t even close. I could not find a single veterinarian who was in favor of letting dogs on the bed. Simply put, the risks outweigh the questionable benefits. So, let’s look at them — both the good and the bad:
These are the claims that some people make about why it’s good for you to sleep with your dog:
- It creates a comforting routine, preventing your dog from feeling scared and lonely. The same can apply to you.
- Being a pet parent has many physical and mental health benefits, so sleeping with your dog increases the amount of time you spend together, potentially increasing associated health benefits.
- It provides a calm, soothing presence at bedtime.
- It develops their loyalty to you and increases your bond to them.
- When sleeping, both of you are more vulnerable. Being together increases trust and confidence in each other.
- Having your dog sleeping with you is like having an alarm system in your bedroom – your dog will alert you to danger.
- Your dog could get into trouble roaming freely around the house at night.
- You and your dog will sleep deeper and longer when you know the other one is asleep. Your dog will develop your sleep pattern.
- It brings your dog joy and happiness to be with you as much as possible.
- Your dog can warm up your bed for you, and you can keep your dog warm.
These claims are not supported by data collected specifically while sleeping in bed with their owner. The health benefits are real, but data was collected relevant to pet ownership in its entirety. It was speculation that spending more time with your dog while sleeping with them means the health benefits will be greater. These “pros” give one side of the issue. Their inclusion here is not an endorsement nor a statement of their validity.
There is one study which shows that having one pet in your bedroom does not disrupt sleep, but the pet in the bed is disruptive.
There are numerous reasons why your dog should not sleep in your bed:
- According to Vetinfo, dogs who already display signs of disobedience and dominance should be required to sleep in a kennel or dog bed. Sleeping with you can make behavior problems worse. It may start to cause behavioral problems where there were none. Your dog needs your leadership. Establish your dominance by keeping your dog out of your bed.
- Some pet parents opt out of co-sleeping due to personal preferences. If a dog rolls over a lot, kicks, scratches a lot, or snores loudly, it can disturb a light-sleeper.
- Infectious diseases are a hazard. Dogs often step in or eat feces. There is a possibility of your pet transmitting bacteria or parasites like salmonella or
- heartworms to you. You can assume that your dog carries some kind of bacteria picked up by stepping in it.
- If you have asthma or other allergies, having your dog’s fur in your bed may make these issues worse.
- Your dog is very young or very old.
- Your dog is not potty-trained.
- Your dog is not vaccinated
Doctor’s prescription: Keep your dog out of your bed
For dog owners who still want to share a bedroom with their best friend, there are safe steps you can take to make this happen. First, purchase a comfortable bed. Place it right next to your bed, to lessen the shock of change. Make the change slowly to ensure a smooth transition.
- Train your dog to stay off the bed by using a leash and the word “off.” The dog will learn through repetition to stay off the bed. Take your dog into the bedroom on a leash. When they jump on the bed, gently pull them off and say “off.” When they’re off, tell them to sit. Praise your dog after they jump off the bed and sits. Your encouragement will help them learn.
- After you praise your dog, lead them to their new bed, have them lie down, and praise them again. Use a dog treat as a reward. Do this just occasionally, because excessive treat feeding can cause weight gain and encourage whining and begging.
In most cases, your pet will begin sleeping on their own bed regularly after a few weeks. Eventually, you will be able to move the bed to another area of
the bedroom or the house with ease. If your dog does not respond to this training method, consider hiring a professional dog trainer.