When you get a new puppy or rescue an older dog, your first inclination is usually to treat him or her as well as possible, so they can enjoy the best a dog’s life has to offer. From extra treats to long walks in the park to an overabundance of chew toys, nothing is too good for your new family member. And for many, this often includes allowing the dog to sleep in their bed.
According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, approximately 42 percent of dog owners allow their dogs to sleep with them at night. After all, what’s better than snuggling up with your pooch on a chilly night?
But pet experts are quick to point out that giving your dog permission to sleep in your bed might not be the best idea, and here’s why.
Allowing a Dog in Bed Interferes with the Dog’s Pack Mentality
Dogs are pack animals by nature. And when you bring a dog into your home, it is important for your pup to view you as their leader because a dog that isn’t submissive can be very hard to train and get under control.
Many experts believe that by allowing your dog in bed, you are sending mixed messages to your pooch. It creates confusion in the dog as to who is the leader and who is the submissive. As a result, the dog stops looking at you as their pack leader and dominance issues will often arise.
Allowing a Dog in Bed Exposes You to Germs and Other Potential Health Risks
Hygiene is another reason why many experts recommend sleeping separately from your dog. For instance, if your dog brings fleas or ticks into the home after being outside, they can easily jump from your dog to you if you both share the bed. There’s also the risk that younger pups, as well as older dogs, can accidentally soil the bed overnight. There are even reports of pets transferring rare infectious diseases, like chagas disease and cat-scratch disease, to their owners by sleeping in the same bed.
The Flip Side of the Coin
While there are solid reasons for keeping your dog out of your bed, it can understandably be difficult, especially when she’s looking at you with those eyes of hers. So, if you are going to allow your pup in bed, there are a few simple tips that you should follow to help ensure you remain leader of the pack and your health risks remain low.
One way to help ensure you maintain your dominance is to keep your dog on the floor for at least ten minutes after you get in bed. She will probably whine and paw at you, but do not relent. Wait for her to lay calm on the floor. Once she is calm and submissive, give her permission to get on the bed. By taking this approach, you allow her on the bed according to your terms and it shows your dog that you are in control.
You don’t want your dog to bring toys or treats on the bed with her. She needs to learn that the bed is only for sleeping, not a place to play.
To keep your risk of health issues low, make sure you take your dog to the veterinarian for regular checkups to ensure she is healthy, and her vaccinations are always up to date, and use a flea and tick preventative to protect your dog from parasites. You should also run your hands over her fur thoroughly every time she comes in from outside. This will help you find and remove any ticks, spiders, or other bugs that might have latched onto her.
Consensus – Should My Dog Sleep With Me?
There are certainly pros and cons to allowing a dog in bed, but ultimately, the decision is yours. If you choose to allow your dog in bed, however, just be sure to follow the steps above to help ensure both you and your pup get a safe and restful night’s sleep.