By Courtney Emken
co-written by Bart Emken, CPDT-KA & Jen Larson, KPA-CTP
So many people tell us about how their dog sleeps in the bed with them. But is it okay? Surprisingly, this is not as simple a question as it may seem. For many, it feels natural and comforting to let their canine companion join them on the bed. However, there can be unforeseen consequences related to this practice.
So, should dogs be allowed the same bed privileges their humans get to enjoy? Here’s our answer.
Yes, Your Dog Can Sleep On The Bed – With Some Caveats
At DogBoy’s, we’ve actually changed our tune about this over the years. In the early days, when old-school training was still popular, we considered ourselves ahead of the curve. We were all about positive training, but we still didn’t think dogs belonged on beds.
We had our reasons, of course. It seemed like every “problem” dog we heard about had something in common: the dog had been sleeping in the bed or bedroom. Based on those experiences, we believed that these two factors were somehow related.
Back then, we would tell clients that if their dog could sleep on the bed without developing behavior problems, more power to them. But, we were still cautious about condoning this habit for dogs in general.
Nowadays, most trainers (including us) believe it’s perfectly fine to allow dogs in the bed. This does not mean, however, that every bed should be open to them. There are significant and serious factors to take into consideration. For example, this can cause:
- Increased symptoms for owners with allergies
- Aggression in relation to resource guarding
- Frustration between partners
- Disruption of your sleep patterns
- Spreading of pathogens from licking/kissing
One of the most common problems occurs when a dog guards one spouse from the other. If sleeping in the bed leads to growling, barking, biting, or otherwise preventing someone from entering the bed, then you need to remove the dog from the bed and begin training to resolve the behavior.
However, studies have shown that there can also be many benefits resulting from sleeping with our faithful pets. Some of these include:
- Warming the bed up
- Feelings of safety
- Increased happiness
Even if the experience is positive, you still need to be consistent with these privileges. Inconsistency, such as one spouse letting them on the bed and another not doing so, will confuse your dog. Think about what spaces you want to make available and stick to them.
You should be able to reliably ask them on and off the bed as well. If they don’t comply with your cues, then you don’t want to let them back on until you’ve addressed that issue with further training.
Due to my allergies, we don’t allow our big, furry dogs to get on the bed. Noodle, our tiny dog, is allowed on sometimes. But even then, he knows it’s temporary and we can ask him off the bed at any time. By doing so, we’ve established that the bed is not a place for sleeping. These same dogs, however, sleep with our daughter nightly, who wants them on the bed and has no problem with it at all.
So Why Did People Believe Dogs Shouldn’t Share The Bed?
Other than the actual reasons we listed above, it was due to the dominant hierarchy myth. Old-school trainers believed that allowing dogs on the bed could make a dog feel dominant. This notion is completely outdated in modern dog-training.
If you’re having trouble keeping dogs off the bed, or want to learn how to train them to get off, please contact us today! Our experienced trainers will walk you through the process and ensure you’re in control of your own bed.
Dog in Bed by Kyle Greenwell
Dog Bed by John O’Nolan
Two Big Dogs by Jlhopgood