Many pet owners look forward to climbing into bed with their canine companion or friendly feline (your bed, not theirs!) at the end of the day. There’s just something about the warmth and weight of their furry bodies that makes the bed more comfortable. And a recent study from the Mayo Clinic showed that sleeping with pets actually helps many people sleep better! Win, win!

Of course, sharing the bed with pets is not a good idea for everyone. In fact, 20% of the people surveyed by the Mayo Clinic said that their sleep was disturbed by their pets, so if you’re one of those people, you should do a little cost-benefit analysis on whether snuggle time is worth the lost shuteye.

Now that we’ve established that sharing a bed with your pets can be beneficial to you, let’s stop and consider whether sharing your bed is in your pet’s best interest. Most veterinary experts will say that it is not a good idea in some cases:


This situation is particularly hard to resist if your new puppy whines through the night – but puppies should sleep in their own bed, and preferably this bed is in their crate. Not only does this help with potty training, but it also keeps your youngster out of trouble overnight when you can’t supervise her every curious move. On a more serious note, puppies’ temperaments are not yet established, which could lead to potentially dangerous situations in the night.

Puppyhood is the perfect time to set boundaries 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’s missing!

If you choose to let your dog sleep in the bed with you, it’s best to wait until he’s grown up. 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’s your bed and you’re just allowing your dog to share it with you.

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Dogs that are new to the house

Again, you don’t know your new dog’s temperament, and your new dog doesn’t yet know the house rules. It’s important to establish clear boundaries and make sure you enforce them. Until your new dog earns a spot in bed with good behavior, the bed is yours and yours alone.

Dogs with behavior problems

Whether it’s separation anxiety or territorial aggression, dogs with “issues” need more boundaries than others. Sleeping in bed with you has the potential to exacerbate existing behavior quirks, turning them into full-blown problems.

An example of a bad candidate for sharing a bed easily comes to my mind. One of my clients slept on the couch many a night. He shared a bed with his two large dogs, who were sweet and lovable by day, but if they beat him to the bed, they would absolutely not allow him to sleep there. It does make me laugh to think of them all racing to bed to see who would get there first, but seriously, folks, this is not right. Your pets need to know that the bed is yours, and you’re generous enough to share it with them.

Keep in mind that what’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander, but if your dogs and cats are good candidates for sleeping in bed with you, go for it! You’ll both sleep better, and there’s nothing quite like waking up next to a warm, fuzzy body. (Of course, if you’re sleeping with your cats, it’s more likely they’re waking you up with a paw to the face, but that’s a story for another blog…)

Apr 5, 2013

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