Should my dog sleep in bed with me? The question was innocent enough. I attended a pet expo in Allentown in October, and a very lovely dog mom approached our expo booth to ask if it was somehow “out of pack order” to allow her dog to stay with her on the bed.
“I feel comforted when she is with me,” she explained. “My husband is a truck driver and so the dog is good company for me and I like having her on the bed.”
Then what’s the problem?
A great number of society’s naysayers, judgment police, and Internet “sources” say that sleeping in the same bed with a dog somehow breaks up the pack order and shows weakness on your part.
So Speaketh the Truth
As a dog mom my entire adult life, I allow myself to both:
- Be in the company of dogs and
- Interview and find myself in the presence of canine behavioral experts
Dogs who sit on your couch and/or want to get on the bed and snooze with you are not trying to rule your life. On the contrary: They simply want to be next to you!
I’m the first to admit I will move over for the sake of the dog. My spouse and I find ourselves crammed into a fetal position like lotus flowers while the dog sprawls out froggy style and snores to his heart’s content.
It gives comfort and joy.
I laugh at myself in doing so because I know what it is like to have an empty space in that bed. For those of you who have loved and lost a pet, you know that angst and hell-on-earth feeling when they are no longer in your life. I carry that suitcase of grief daily. Hell yes, my dog sleeps on my bed. He has the choice of sleeping on his own doggie bed, and sometimes when we kick or disturb the
King’s pooch’s slumber, he will jump off the bed. Does your ever do that heavy exhale thing when they are annoyed with you?
Until that time, he is welcomed and encouraged to lay down beside us for his rest.
When Not to Let Fido on the Bed
Because this is a reality-based blog, I’d be lying through my teeth if I didn’t approach the “sometimes there are instances when a dog is best served not on a bed with his humans” theory. Those times include:
If there is more than one dog in the house and there is a chance for a brawl to occur in the middle of the night: You know, if someone bumps a paw, a tail, or tries to get too close.
If you fear rolling on the dog and causing the dog harm: This has happened to people and can you imagine?
Owner guarding is an all too real issue where a bed mate suddenly joins the pack: you know, mommy has a boyfriend/girlfriend. Suddenly Fido is expected to share his “den” with some hairy dude. Said hairy dude just might want to engage in things with mommy that the dog finds threatening. This is the reason most people politely have the dog leave the room during physical relations.
In other words, out goes the dog when sex happens.
If a dog growls or snaps/snarls at a bed mate, this can also transcend into similar behaviors outside the bedroom, so be sure to speak to a positive behaviorist about that.
When a significant other has a problem with the dog being on the bed, that significant other is not so, well, significant in my life any longer. Thankfully, that isn’t my problem.
When there are dog-related or human-related medical problems, this is understandable for all parties involved if the dog is best on his bed or in his doggie area off the bed.
If puppy training is happening or a new dog is adopted, then sure: My dog was on the bed from day two in our lives on. I made the mistake of thinking having him in a kennel by my side as we slept was a good idea. We are the clingy type BOL!
Allergies to pets is one of the most common reasons that people don’t allow their dogs in the bedroom, let alone the bed. I actually have a mild allergy to dogs. It isn’t the dog’s hair or the fur that causes the reaction/allergies in humans. People are generally allergic to the dander of a dog, or flakes of dead skin, along with a dog’s saliva or even urine. So even if a dog has very short hair, any dog can potentially cause an allergic reaction. Allergy tests can be inconclusive, too, which is a whole other topic of discussion.
Something that helped me in the bedroom dog dander allergy wise is to use Breathe Right strips® on my nose when I sleep, put some Vaseline into my nasal passages at night, and to regularly use a decongestant or non-habit forming/non-steroidal nasal spray. I have allergies to other things, too, so the combo of these things is a win-win.
What to Say to Naysayers
For those who say that dogs should never be allowed to sleep on a bed, here are a few snappy witticisms you are free to borrow. Of course, sometimes the best response is no response.
They say: “Dogs belong in a kennel or on a floor, not on a human bed.”
Your reply: “People used to sleep in caves and look at us now!”
I love that one, especially if a guy tells me where dogs belong.
They say: “Dogs are dirty and their feet and fur are filled with who knows what.”
Your reply: “Much like the skin cells that humans are shedding all day and night, so we can co-exist together.”
They say: “Dogs need to know their place. You are supposed to be the alpha.”
You say: “I’m just glad my dog gives me some space on the bed.”
In all seriousness, it’s your life, your name on the birth certificate, and you owe no one an explanation. In this day and age of social confrontation, the delete key is a wonderful thing.
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.