Last updated on November 11th, 2023 at 06:17 pm
The question of whether or not I should let my dog sleep with me started when my new dog Charlotte began to consider her options. She looked at my bed and then her doggie bed. She looked at my bed again, and then at me. A minute later her front feet were on the bed, and then, whomp! She was up on my bed, on my stomach, staring at me with intense eyes, pretty sure, maybe not absolutely sure, but mostly pretty sure, that this was okay.
I, on the other hand, groaning from the impact, was pretty sure it was not okay. Should I let my dog sleep with me?
You may have had a similar experience with your pups wanting to sleep with you. Is it okay to let your dog sleep with you? For people with the space, allowing your dogs to sleep with you is usually fine. As long as you are not allergic to dogs, don’t have health concerns, and don’t mind washing sheets more often, you can enjoy the company of your pups in your bed.
Read our funny story and learn about the pros and cons of allowing your dog to sleep with you.
When I first brought my two rescue dogs home, I provided them with very comfy beds. In fact, as you will read, I provided them with several beds. I was under the impression that by giving them really comfortable beds, they would be less inclined to sleep in my bed.
We all started out with good intentions — I was in the human bed, and the dogs in their doggy beds. Whether or not I should let my dogs sleep with me seemed to be a non-issue. However, over time, this all began to unravel.
Harry Potter Doggy Day Bed
Charlotte and her sister, Georgia had their own beds—nice ones, I might add, which I had spent a pretty penny on. This was not to mention, their two very large and lush doggy day beds downstairs under the stairwell in Harry Potter style. They loved to nap on these in the late morning and after a good romp at the park.
We started with one very large day bed, big enough for two so they could cuddle together. But they were decidedly, “big girls”, all of six years old, and needed their own space. This became a favorite, almost sacred area they often competed for. So, I ordered another one. And now they each had a perfect resting space under the stairwell.
From the beginning, they really loved their day beds, (especially if humans had already filled up the furniture)! They could hide out in a semi-protected area and lazily check out what was going on in the living room.
Doggy Bolster Bed
We went through the same routine with their upstairs nighttime bolster bed, a perfectly lovely, oval-shaped, big-enough-for-two cozy bed with a round, soft outer ridge to rest their heads. It was guaranteed to make them feel secure. But again, being the “big girls” that they were, another bed was purchased to prevent arguments about who slept where.
Now, I tried another type between the bolster beds and the kennel just to see what they liked best. They were six years old, which is like forty-two in human years. So, I thought their bones might get a bit achy, and an orthopedic doggy bed might be warranted. I needed a firmer but cushier bed for my stiff back and sore hips. But then, I am older than forty-two.
Next, I installed a very large, rectangular 4” thick, orthopedic doggie bed with memory foam and royal red trim, that was big-enough-for-two dogs with weary bones. Charlotte and Georgia were nonplussed.
So, I went back to the bolster bed concept. Strangely, after all the fighting over who would sleep in the one bolster bed, they both ended up in the same one! They apparently thought it was better to sleep crowded together in just one of their secure, oval-shaped bolster beds nearest to me.
I ended up placing one bolster bed in the bedroom and the other in my office. This turned out to be perfect, as they loved to hang out under my desk when I was working.
Pros of Letting Your Dog Sleep with You
During this period of finding the perfect beds for my dogs, I also researched and considered the positive reasons of letting my dogs sleep with me:
1. Emotional Bonding:
Allowing your dog to sleep with you can strengthen the emotional bond between you and your furry friend. Sharing your sleeping space can create a sense of security and trust, enhancing your relationship. Dogs are pack animals who pile up on top of each other in their den at night for safety and warmth.
2. Reduced Anxiety:
For dogs prone to separation anxiety, sleeping close to their human can provide a sense of comfort, reducing nighttime stress and helping them feel more secure.
3. Warmth and Comfort:
Dogs are naturally attracted to body heat. Allowing them to sleep in your bed can keep them warm and cozy, especially on cold nights. This physical closeness can also provide them with a sense of comfort and contentment.
4. Better Sleep for You:
Believe it or not, many dog owners find their pets’ presence calming, leading to better sleep quality. The rhythmic breathing and steady heartbeat of a dog can act as a natural sleep aid, especially for light sleepers.
5. Alertness and Protection:
Dogs have keen senses and instincts. Having your dog sleep with you can enhance your security by alerting you to any unusual sounds or movements during the night, providing an added layer of protection.
Cons of Letting Your Dog Sleep with You
Additionally, I also carefully weighed some of the negative impacts of having the dogs sleep in my bed:
1. Sleep Disturbances:
Dogs are polyphasic sleepers, meaning they have multiple sleep-wake cycles throughout the day and night. Their movements during the night, such as shifting positions or getting up, might disturb your sleep, especially if you are a light sleeper.
2. Potential Health Issues:
Sharing a bed with your dog can increase the risk of transferring zoonotic diseases, parasites, or allergies. Pet dander, fur, and saliva can trigger allergic reactions or worsen existing allergies, impacting your overall health.
3. Behavioral Issues:
Allowing your dog to sleep in your bed might lead to behavioral problems, such as dominance issues or separation anxiety when you’re not around. It could blur the line between owner and pet, potentially impacting obedience and discipline.
4. Space Constraints:
Larger dogs, in particular, can take up a significant amount of space in the bed, leaving you with limited room to stretch and relax. This can lead to discomfort and disturb your sleep quality.
5. Interrupted Sleep Patterns:
Dogs may have different sleep schedules than humans. They might want to play or go out in the middle of the night, disrupting your sleep patterns and leaving you feeling fatigued the next day.
Another issue was how easily my dogs would wake up during the night and wake me up as well. I also had to consider how many times I wanted to wash sheets and whether my allergies would worsen (they did).
Pack Animals and Why Dogs Like to Sleep with Humans:
1. Pack Animals’ Instinct:
Dogs are descendants of wolves, which are pack animals. In the wild, wolves sleep close to one another for protection, warmth, and a sense of security. This instinct is deeply ingrained in domestic dogs, making them naturally inclined to seek close proximity to their human family, which they consider as their pack members.
2. Bonding and Affection:
Dogs are social animals, and sleeping close to their human companions fulfills their need for social interaction and companionship. Dogs are known for their loyalty and affection towards their owners. Sleeping together reinforces the bond between the dog and its owner, providing a source of comfort and companionship for both parties.
I later learned how sogs have preferences when it comes to beds and sleeping with certain family members.
3. Security and Safety:
Sleeping with humans provides dogs with a sense of security. Your presence, combined with the security of the home, makes them feel safe. This feeling of safety reduces anxiety and stress, contributing to a more relaxed and content canine companion.
4. Regulating Body Temperature:
Dogs, especially smaller breeds, benefit from sharing body heat with humans, especially during colder nights. Snuggling up against a warm body helps regulate their body temperature, ensuring they stay comfortably warm.
5. Love Hormone (Oxytocin) Release:
Scientific Studies have shown that interactions, including sleeping close to dogs, can trigger the release of oxytocin, often referred to as the “love hormone” or “bonding hormone.” This hormone promotes feelings of love and trust, strengthening the emotional connection between dogs and their owners.
Back to Our Story — The Argument
Now, all their doggy beds for both day and night have worked well. But the argument soon began. At first, to my dislike, both dogs pounced on me in the morning when the sun rose because they had to poop, and it was almost time for breakfast. It seemed like a lot of anxiety brewed over getting that breakfast!
But as I continued to snooze, the fear-o-meter went sky-high as to whether or not I would wake up any time soon. Their tummies were growling, and dinner was such a long time ago!
So, the pouncing began. First, they gingerly hung out around the edges of the bed. Then, one morning, Georgia, the smaller dog, jumped right into my arms and looked up without blinking as if to say, Aren’t I adorable? Charlotte then jumped up and landed right on top of my legs. Pretty soon, both dogs had me pinned under the covers until I yelped for help!
Finally, they inched closer and closer until I felt dog whiskers tickling my nose!
In the end . . .
I caved. Charlotte, with her intense stare, looked at the bed and looked at me, then whomp! Soon, Georgia, who decided her bigger sister was the wiser one, joined us. We were now all in a dog pile on my bed that was big enough for me, and apparently big enough for me plus two.
I looked at them and glanced at the clock. It was late, and I was tired. After fluffing up my pillow and stretching out as best I could with dogs on top of me, I turned out the light and sighed. Not worth the argument. And, it was kind of sweet in a bed for one that probably, almost certainly, could work for the three of us.
Deanna Euritt is a dedicated dog enthusiast with over three decades of experience in raising and training a diverse range of dogs, including many rescue pups. Her practical expertise is rooted in real-life experiences, where she has successfully navigated the challenges of nurturing rescue dogs into confident, well-adjusted companions. Residing in Northern California, Deanna’s days are filled with adventures along trails and beaches with her beloved dogs, Charlotte and Georgia. In her writing, she offers insightful, compassionate advice to fellow dog lovers, leveraging her extensive personal journey in the world of dog care and training. See About Us.