Is it dangerous for dogs to sleep with us? Every now and again this debate rears its canine head, and we’ve seen it floating around our blogosphere travels lately. So let’s open up the great dog sleeping with human debate, shall we? The danger of sleeping with dogs in our household are but one: That we wake up chilly at 3 am because Dexter has all the covers.
Let sleeping dogs lie, so the saying goes, as many dog moms and dads attest that the best night’s sleep is produced when a dog is lying by their side, pillow to pillow, tail to tush, snout to sheet. According to a survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association, almost half of dogs sleep with their owners in their owner’s beds.
Dogs are creatures of habit, so if a dog enjoys roaming into his kennel at night, why not allow him the comfort and “den-like” ritual of hunkering down into his favorite nighttime spot. Many of us, self included, prefer the soothing rhythms of a dog slumbering by our side, nestled in for a good night’s sleep. For the first two years of his life, my dog, Dexter, used my pillow for his own. This, for me, is quite the norm and many a pet parent would nod in agreement.
Adversely, there is a school of thought, and recently some more scientifically proven studies, revealing that sleeping with a dog might not be good for our health. From the “why’d you put a pin in my balloon” side of things, pet dander may instigate or trigger human allergies. Further, what Fido walks on outside is what Fido brings into the house and onto the bed linens. Diseases that can be transmitted between pets and people, aka “zoonotic,” do exist, but this is in the bedroom as well as any other room in the house.
Dogs who shift during sleep can cause disruptions in human sleep, making it harder to ensure a solid night’s rest. The risk of rolling on Rover or the dog falling off the bed is also of consideration from the “no don’t do it” school of thought. From the pages of “dominance and pack structure” behaviorists, there is a widely-held belief that the leader of the pack should be the only one allowed on the bed to maintain order, structure, and hierarchy.
Phooey I say. If you enjoy having a dog (or more) sleep with you and his or her presence does not compromise one’s health, pile on the pooches.
A friend of Fidose, Terry Casillas of Gulfport, Mississippi, says that she has been sleeping with dogs almost her whole adult life. As the founder of Tired Dog Rescue, she loves the comforting feeling of have a pack of dogs sleeping on her bed. At any given time, at least seven dogs can be found slumbering next to her.
If our recent sleeping dog photo contest is any indication, our pets are sharing their beds, homes, hearts, and everything else with us.
The emotional effects of having a dog in our lives are immeasurable, as study after study reveals. In fact, the Center for Disease Control reports that pets can help to lower our blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and diminish feelings of loneliness. After a long day, many of us find solace in retreating to our beds and having our pooches snuggle next to us.
So Should You Sleep with Dogs? Here Are the Realities:
Allergies or Asthma/Dog Allergy
I had an allergist tell me many years ago that I am allergic to dogs based on allergy skin testing. He told me to literally “get rid of my dog.” Um, I have a tattoo that says “My Heart Beats Dog” and I trademarked that saying. I wonder how many people he tells to nix the pet. Makes my skin crawl and blood boil. If your life is at risk due to an allergy, perhaps the dog getting a new loving home is best in some cases…not for everyone and certainly not for me. I would sooner live in a HEPA filter than not share my life with a dog.
That said, if your allergies are severe or you have asthma that is induced by pet saliva or dander, then by all means have the dog sleep in another room. Invest in a high quality HEPA Allergen Remover that removes dust, hair, and germs from the air. I have one in the office and it is fantastic. We just change the filters twice a year and keep it clean. It also helps my dog’s allergies, too.
Snoring or Bed Hog
My dog is a Cocker but loves to sleep like this, and sometimes he likes to sleep on his own dog bed. He mostly uses that when we are watching television or when he wants to bury his doggie bone.
He is bed hog and has the cutest snore.
“Why do you tell me to stop when I snore but you think it’s cute when the dog does it?” This is a common question from my spouse.
Well, the dog snores are peaceful to me. BOL What can I say?
I’ve had readers over the years tell me that their dog steals the covers and keeps them awake at night. If you have such insomnia that your dog might be an extra factor in preventing a solid night’s sleep, then I guess you should consider having the dog sleep
elsewhere on the world’s most posh dog bed.
Bottom line, if the dog interferes with your love life, then temporarily you can consider having the dog in another room. Some folks don’t like the dog “watching.” If we are being totally honest, I knew someone who had a dog that would pee whenever she had sex in the bedroom. I would joke that she must have gotten lucky when I saw the carpet cleaner at her house.
If a dog becomes territorial towards you or the bed, then this might not be the best situation for all parties. I read an article where a child was running towards the bed when a dog was on it. The dog snarled and lunged at the child. He was normally a loving pooch, but the bed became his “domain.” To the dog, this is a normal behavior but it cannot happen.
Famed dog trainer and behaviorist, Victoria Stilwell advises that making “off the bed” a game and using pets and treats as rewards for being on the floor/their own bed is key here. The dog gets no attention on the bed, only the floor. Never scold the dog. If the dog jumps back up, simply instruct them “off” and make it positive when they do. Never yell or scold or hit a dog.
Danger of Crushing Your Dog
If you have a tiny dog or one that likes to burrow under things, then he or she can be in danger in your bed. People can roll on a pet or a child with harmful or deadly consequences. In this case, I’d advise reconsidering allowing the dog on the bed.
And if it isn’t clear by now, this long-time dog mom, dog lover of the highest order, and writer/blogger is pro dog in the bed.
You will find a ton of articles about why dogs should not sleep with you due to alpha status, etc. Bleach and phooey. Do what works for you and is safe for all parties involved. I can tell you that when a dog dies, that empty spot on the bed is larger than life. You’ll look back someday and wish that dog was there to fill it.
What’s the “norm” in your household? Do you allow your pet(s) to sleep on the bed? Weigh in and let us know in the comments below.
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