Leading increasingly busy lives means we often feel we don’t see our dogs enough. It is natural then that we want to keep them as close as possible when we are home, but is allowing them to sleep in bed with us a step too far? This surprisingly common practice is one that polarises pet owners, shocking some and delighting others. Here, James Wellbeloved investigates the practice, exploring how sleeping with your dog benefits some people and the issues dog owners may face if they do this.
Historically, theories about respect and dominance in relationships between dogs and their owners led some to argue that allowing your pet to sleep in your bed would cause them to become aggressive. However, vets and behaviour experts now agree that canine aggression is normally rooted in fear, rather than a lack of respect, and so would not result from sharing a bed. Furthermore, vets now also agree that sharing a bed causes little increase to the risk of disease spreading between a dog and a human. This is providing that both are healthy and your dog is undergoing routine medical checks to ensure this. Precaution does need to be taken with children though. Young children should never be allowed to sleep in bed with a dog. The child may not be mature enough and behaviour they might perceive as play, such as tail pulling, could aggravate the dog.
There is a great deal of anecdotal evidence to suggest sleeping with dogs benefits some people. Firstly, it is a great way to bond with your dog. This is especially important now, as many of us are finding it increasingly difficult to find enough time in the day to spend with our pet pooches. Many also claim that sleeping with your dog benefits sleep quality and can help fight insomnia. It is theorised that the rhythm of your dog’s breathing and comfort of having a friend nearby can promote relaxation, making sleep easier and more restful. Additionally, a dog’s body temperature is generally higher than a human’s, which means they can be very comforting to snuggle up with. This is especially true in winter, with the cold and frosty nights. Nevertheless, you should consider that your dog may fidget or wake up at different times to you. If this might disturb your sleep, then sharing a bed with your pet may not be beneficial.
While there are numerous benefits to sharing a bed with your dog, there are several issues owners ought to be aware of before making the decision to do so. Once you have allowed your dog the privilege of sleeping in bed with you, it can be difficult to get them to sleep anywhere else. Your mattress is likely to be far more comfortable than any pet bed or floor that they may otherwise sleep on, and so your dog will typically be resistant to any attempt to get them to sleep elsewhere.
While there is little chance of spreading disease by sharing a bed with your dog, there can still be hygiene issues. Your dog may moult and leave hair in your bed. It is also possible they might bring in dirt on their paws and coat. While neither of these things would be harmful, necessarily, they can be bothersome and ought to be considered before allowing your pet to share a bed with you. There is no right or wrong when it comes to sleeping in bed with your dog. It is beneficial and enjoyable for some owners, but not for everyone. If you want to feel closer to your dog, but are not prepared to share your bed, consider keeping them nearby, bringing their bed into your room.