To people who don’t love pets, dogs are just a strange roommate for whom you have to do everything. They will never get why people let their dogs sleep in bed with them. It’s understandable. Dogs have lower hygiene standards than humans, and bigger dogs take up a lot of space on the bed.
But the debate of whether you should let your dog sleep in bed with you extends to dog owners. Some of us wouldn’t dream of kicking our dogs off the bed, while others claim co-sleeping may lead to legitimate health and behavioral issues.
Let’s delve deeper into the subject to try to come to a clearer conclusion. Should I let my dog sleep in bed with me?
To begin with, we need to discuss the potential impact of having a dog in your bed on your own personal health. The truth is that this is an issue that can be treated intuitively. If you don’t regularly bathe your dog, or it spends its time rolling around in the dirt, its presence in your bed leads to hygiene issues. Also, if you have light allergies to pets, having your dog in bed may make them worse.
On the other hand, if you don’t let your dog get too dirty and you have no allergies, there is probably no risk to your health.
Human Sleep Quality
Staying with the human in this scenario, some question what sleeping with a dog does to your sleep quality. Studies have indeed shown that sleeping with a dog does decrease your sleep quality. Dogs go through three sleep/wake cycles in every nighttime hour, whereas you go through one every night! This restlessness can disturb you to some extent. If you already have sleep issues, it is probably not a good idea to let your dog sleep with you.
However, some dog owners with anxiety benefit from having a loyal friend and protector in bed with them. Sleeping with their dog in their bed can improve sleep quality for people with anxiety, especially if anxiety issues are already leading to sleeplessness.
Now that we’ve discussed the human in the equation, let’s talk about what impact co-sleeping has on your dog.
Canine Behavioral Issues
Some criticism of dogs sleeping in beds focuses on potential behavioral issues. Critics focus on a range of problems.
One widespread myth is that letting your dog sleep in bed with you will give it a sense of dominance. While giving in to your pet’s demands may indeed make it difficult to discipline and train it, welcoming it into your bed isn’t the problem here. If you’re not against having your dog in bed, you’re not really giving in to a whim.
Another focus is separation anxiety in dogs. Separation anxiety occurs when a dog acts out when away from its human. It is probably not caused by co-sleeping, although it may lead your dog to feel the need to sleep with you. Separation anxiety is indeed a complex issue, and you should speak to a professional if you are worried that your dog has developed it. They will advise you on whether sleeping in your bed is making things worse.
If your dog is particularly territorial, you may find that it reacts aggressively to being moved while in bed with you. Again, this is not an issue caused by co-sleeping, but allowing this aggression to go unnoticed will not improve the situation. Behavioral issues are common in dogs, especially those who haven’t been trained and should be treated holistically rather than focusing on particular displays of symptoms.
The natural conclusion to come to is that co-sleeping in itself is not bad for you or your dog. As long as you keep your dog clean, have no allergies that will be exacerbated, and your dog has no major behavioral issues, sleeping with your dog in your bed should not cause any problems other than some excess warmth on a hot night!