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Deciding whether or not to co-sleep with your dog may seem trivial, but there is a lot of evidence supporting both the benefits and drawbacks of sleeping with your pup. Canines have been sleeping with humans for centuries and can provide nurturing comfort, especially for those who suffer from anxiety or depression. On the other hand, some research suggests that letting a pup snooze in your bed gives them a superiority complex, blurring the line about who’s the boss.
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Every home is unique and requires or accommodates different needs. Read on to find out if co-sleeping with your dog could be right or wrong for your household.
What’s good or bad for your home will be relative to the individuals and dogs residing inside, as there is no explicit right or wrong way to sleep with your pup, only what works for your family.
There have been no drawbacks found to support any evidence that a dog sleeping in your bed would be bad for your dog’s health. Most canines enjoy being close to their owners, especially at night. Some pups, particularly small ones, love snuggling under the covers with their masters, which may help them feel safe and bonded, potentially strengthening trust and feelings of security—in both parties.
Snuggling with animals might be great for dogs, but a nightly practice may not be wise for every human. Some individuals struggle with allergies, and allowing a pet to shed nightly in your bed could exacerbate the condition. Further, some pups love to sprawl out, taking up a large portion of the bed, making quality rest a challenge.
On the flip side, there is strong evidence that points to various reasons owning a dog is beneficial to our mental health. Having a dog often encourages exercise, as pups need to go on regular walks, and their happy demeanor can significantly improve our moods.
Considerable amounts of research suggest that snoozing next to your pup at night could soothe anxiety, alleviate depression, and increase feelings of security for both of you. When owners were asked in a survey what they appreciated most about having a dog, companionship and mutual love proved to be the number one response.
Sharing a bed with a canine could detract from your sleep quality, similarly to how some people enjoy having the whole bed when a partner is out of town. Dogs are living creatures and, just like us, sometimes have to wiggle around to get comfortable, spread out, stretch, and like to snuggle next to a warm body; this could mean sacrificing a bit of space as a result.
When training your dog to not make any doo-doo’s in the house, it’s wise to take them outside often and consistently. So, if you’re letting your dog sleep in your bed before they’re housetrained, you might run the risk of accidents near or in your sleep space.
Teaching a puppy or adult dog to do their business outside could take tremendous patience, depending on the type of breed. If you plan to let your dog snooze in your bedroom long term but are still potty training them, you can start by crate training them during the night, as dogs typically won’t eliminate in their sleep space.
However, no matter the dog, providing positive reinforcement and lots of praise at each outdoor bathroom break should incentivize them to go outside.
Further, snoozing next to your furball could be agony for your sinuses if you have allergies. Keeping a tissue box handy and blowing your nose regularly each night doesn’t exactly pair well with quality sleep.
Some owners opt to take allergy shots or daily antihistamine pills to curb the symptoms. However, many dog breeds are hypoallergenic, like poodles, west highland terriers, and airdales to name a few, so if you’re reading this article preemptively while searching for the perfect pup, there are ways to avoid this issue.
In some instances, pets may become overly obsessive about items they believe to be theirs, otherwise known as “resource guarding,” and they might growl or snarl when you approach an item they’re territorial over. However, this issue typically doesn’t arise in well-adjusted dogs; if it does, a bit of training and patience should do the trick.
Besides the obvious drawbacks, some individuals believe your dog will grow too dominant or spoiled by sleeping in the same space as owners. However, there is not enough evidence between bed-sharing and behavioral issues to draw a correlation with certainty. Further, how the problem arises is still debated; does co-sleeping create attachment problems, or does separation anxiety lead the owner to let the dog into the bed?
You might choose to try out sleeping with your dog before committing to a nightly routine. If so, pay attention to how you feel the next day.
When you wake up, consider how you slept. Do you feel well-rested? If the answer is no, you may have been struggling to get comfortable in the presence of your pup.
Many dogs like to snuggle up close, and you could be tossing and turning without realizing it as a result. Do you notice any stiffness, aches, or soreness? Consider the quality of sleep you’re getting and if you foresee your rest being an issue in the future.
Read More: Why is My Dog Restless at Night?
Your dog will likely let you know if they enjoy co-sleeping with you in one way or another. They might jump on the bed voluntarily or wait for your signal to come up. Dogs who don’t enjoy snoozing with their owners typically will go rest somewhere else on their own.
Sometimes, dogs are too hot when snuggled amongst blankets and pillows and may prefer sleeping on hardwood or tile to keep cool. Regardless, if your dog isn’t happy about being in your bed, they’ll find a space on their own.
Like humans, dogs enjoy having a designated space to themselves, and they may appreciate a dog bed, blanket, or designated towel that’s theirs to snooze on nightly.
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Positive reinforcement often works wonderfully with dogs, but they may need a bit of repetition before learning a command. Treats are a great way to start teaching your pet tricks. Tell your dog to “go to bed,” or whatever phrase you choose, pat the bed, walk them to their bed, and once they do as you please, you may give them a treat and plenty of praise.
Dogs enjoy making their owners happy, and if you show them enough reinforcement, they should begin to positively associate obeying the command and making you happy.
In the end, most dog owners will tell you the perks of having a dog snuggled up beside them every night far outweigh the drawbacks.