Downeast Dog News

Where Should Sleeping Dogs Lie?

By Susan Spisak | Sep 01, 2018

In our house, the dogs sleep in their laundry room crates or on the family room couches (unless it’s storming, then Bo’s fear brings him to our bedroom floor). It’s their decision--as long as they’re not in our bed, but many of my single and married dog-loving friends encourage their fur kids to sleep with them. And they’re not alone--according to the American Kennel Club’s research. Almost half of dog owners surveyed allow Fido to slumber with them. Like most stories, there are two sides--and sleeping with your pooch is no exception.

If you have allergies or asthma, it’s probably not a good idea to sleep with him, especially if he sheds. If he’s not up-to-date on preventatives and shots, you may rethink and get him to the vet first--fleas and ticks aren’t good bedmates. And while contracting a disease from a pet is rare, the CDC does note that about 60% of pathogens can be transmitted by an animal.

Sharing your bed can interrupt sleep patterns and decrease hours of sleep, making you grouchy come morn--especially if he snores or tosses and turns. If you’re like me, sleep is a valuable commodity necessary to get you through busy days, and if you have more than one dog and they both want to be under your quilt, let’s hope there’s room for you, especially if there’s another human in bed.

Whether he sleeps in your bed or in the same room, his nighttime scratching and licking can wake you if you or your partner are a light sleeper. A friend of mine cited this as why their pets aren’t allowed in their bedroom (they do have several dog beds throughout their home).

Allowing the family pet to sleep in your young children’s bed is asking for trouble. It does increase their risk of being snapped at or bitten if they’re not yet responsible and fully-schooled in the “do and don’t” of handling and treating a pet with care.

If your dog is completely deaf or is losing his hearing, it’s not smart to sleep with him. Deaf dogs sleep harder than those with the sense, and you can accidentally wake and alarm him by simply turning over; the same goes for blind or senior dogs. Once sweet and cuddly, older dogs can be grumpy, even aggressive, when woken abruptly. If he’s recently adopted, get to know his personality thoroughly before bedding down with him.

Some “old-school” trainers have indicated that a dog sleeping with his “master” creates confusion--as in, who’s the boss? But the AKC suggests that this may be an urban myth, especially if your guy is well-adjusted and “issue-less.” However, if your dog sleeps with you and begins to display intimidating behaviors or gets an attitude, it’s time to revoke this privilege.

If you have a new puppy, crate him ‘til he’s potty-trained--then you can decide where he’s going to rest at night. Crating between outdoor “outings” is a more effective learning process for the youngster; the same goes if he’s not trustworthy yet--you never know what havoc will be created while you’re snoozing away.

Another consideration is that if you have a furry, fluffy dog, your bed and sheets will be full of hair. Extra vacuuming and washing will be needed.

If you don’t partake in a nighttime joint “sleepfest” but want him close, simply place an extra crate in your bedroom, so you both can derive comfort from being near. Now, to the other side of the story...

Those who do snuggle nightly most-likely have a well-behaved pet and enjoy bonding with him. The closeness also increases the hormone oxytocin, which brings with it a sense of affection and happiness. Going to sleep feeling happy can set you up for a better tomorrow.

Sleeping with your dog can be therapeutic. It’s well known that they can calm us--look at their therapy roles in hospitals, nursing homes, and as service animals. If something is troubling you and keeping you awake, a hug from your buddy can help. He’ll be that 24/7 friend to lean on (because anything you’re worrying about always seems worse at 3 a.m.). And his rhythmic breathing while he’s asleep can relax you, thus delivering you into dreamland quickly.

His nocturnal nearness can not only soothe but create a sense of safety, especially if you’re single or have a traveling partner. This factor alone could explain why some rely on their fur friend during the night. His presence can make you feel less frightened and more secure, allowing you to settle down and get some zzz’s.

Besides these benefits, have you ever heard of the expression, “It’s a three dog night?” He’s going to keep you warm and snuggly on colder Maine nights because his body temp is a few degrees higher than yours. And if you are a canine bed-sharer, keep him groomed and nails trimmed often--no need for you to be scratched.

It’s a personal decision if you allow your four-legged to jump in bed. While there are pros and cons, the bottom line is that it’s your call where he sleeps. Do what’s right for you, your family, and your canine best friend, so you all can sleep tight.