Is it OK to let your pet sleep in your bed?

You know that you should let sleeping dogs lie, but should you let them lie in your bed? As a veterinarian, I know that the best sleeping place for a dog is on the floor, either in a crate or on a dog bed. In fact, behavior specialists and trainers almost universally recommend that dogs NOT sleep in bed with their owners.

But as a pet owner, I know that is just not always practical. I’ll readily admit that my dog slept in the bed with me every night until she couldn’t climb the stairs anymore. Before I got married, I explained to my husband-to-be that having her in the bed with me was a non-negotiable. Sure it was crowded, but what’s a dog lover to do?

The subject of dogs sleeping in the big bed with their owners is not black and white, of course. Each family is different, and there is a lot to be said for both sides of the argument, so let’s get started.

First and foremost, puppies should not be sharing a bed with their owners. This situation is particularly hard to resist if your new puppy whines through the night, but the best place for a puppy is in a crate. Crate training is very helpful for potty training, and it keeps your new family member out of trouble. Not only are puppies not housetrained, but their temperament is not established, making them potentially dangerous to sleep with. Granted, you are unlikely to be seriously injured by a 9-week-old puppy, but a large-breed 6-month-old does have the potential to cause some real damage.

Puppies are particularly receptive to training as their little brains soak up cues from you, both intentional and otherwise. Puppyhood is the perfect time to set boundaries for your pet and establish good behaviors. While you’re working on the rules, it’s best to get your pet used to a sleeping place of his own. If his temperament eventually turns out to be not conducive to sleeping in the bed with you, he’ll never know what he is missing!

If you choose to have your dog sleep in the bed with you, it is best to wait until he is an adult. This way, he’ll be properly potty trained and will have learned good manners. You’ll also have a good idea of his temperament. Make sure he doesn’t snap or startle if woken suddenly to avoid accidental bites. Also, teach the “off” command and make sure he obeys. Remember: it is YOUR bed and you are just allowing your dog to share it with you.

A final important matter to consider is the case of multiple dogs. If you have more than one dog, the bed can get crowded very quickly. Keep this in mind when you are thinking about adding canine companionship overnight.

While having a dog (or two) in bed with you is likely to cause some occasional sleep disturbances, the comfort it provides can be worth it. Canine and feline companionship eases emotional pain, and some people actually sleep better with the increased sense of security our furry friends bring. Sweet dreams!

This article was taken from Petplan Pet Insurance
Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on April 04 2013
Staff Veterinarian and Pet Health Writer of Petplan

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