Should The Dog Be Allowed On The Bed?

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Sam Basso
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Should the dog be allowed on the bed? Allowing a dog to sleep in your bed affects the behavior and comfort of the dog and the people. I think it is always best to make these types of decisions from a long term perspective.

Very small dogs are at risk when in a human bed. If they fall or jump off the bed, they can be seriously injured or even die. The people can also roll over onto the dog and injure or kill a very small dog.

Very active, light sleeping dogs keep shifting around in the bed and can keep you from getting a good night’s sleep. Active dogs, even if they have had sufficient exercise during the day, still get up and move around frequently throughout the night.

Very large dogs tend to work their way into the most comfortable, center portion of the bed. So, you wake up the next morning in a sleeping position that looks like someone enrolled you in an advanced yoga class. You look like a pretzel, and feel sore all over.

Older dogs, or dogs with physical disabilities, can’t get up or off the bed. And if they are sore, they can start growling or even biting if you try to move them.

Comfort loving dogs can become aggressive if made to move from the spot they have settled in. This can cause your dog to bite you, another person, or to attack the family cat or another dog in the bedroom.

Protective dogs tend to get even more protective over the people they sleep with. This can be good for someone who needs a dog to be more closely bonded and watchful, but not so good if the dog bonds to only one person in the bed, and then will use aggression to keep others off the bed and out of the bedroom. Status seeking dogs do something similar, and the especially close relationship that develops between the dog and the person the dog sleeps with, can provoke aggression with other people, dogs, and cats in the home.

Intact dogs, especially male dogs, which are allowed to sleep in the bed can get a bit too frisky with the humans when the humans have sex in the bedroom. So, with those dogs, you need to get them off the bed, and even sometimes out of the bedroom, when making love. Otherwise, they’ll interfere with what you are doing. Dogs, birds, and other animals can imprint sexually on humans. That sounds gross, but it is true. They are animals, and they are affected by how we raise them. For example, a hand raised bird can sexually imprint on a human. Such a bird may get along with other birds of it’s kind, but often won’t mate with them, and even if they do mate with another bird, they will abandon that other bird and the chicks in the nest, if they imprinted on humans as a chick, and a person they bonded to as a chick gets near. Something similar, but not as intense, can and does happen with intact dogs, especially if they were adopted from the litter before 3 weeks of age. Imprinting isn’t abnormal. It is a normal thing, and it is partly why dogs can live with humans. Whenever you tame or domesticate an animal, this is part of what happens. So, don’t get all weird about this. But, it can be a behavioral issue in the home, and there’s no reason for making things worse. Keep them off the bed all the time so it doesn’t become a habit to sleep there.

Dogs that travel a lot get dirty laying on hotel carpets and floors. So, for some, it is cleaner to have the dog sleep on the bed or on a dog bed. And some dogs are just smellier and dirtier than others. Some dogs have coats that are dirt magnets. Some dogs have very oily coats that make the bed smell too “doggy”. Some people are more allergic to dogs than others, so that needs to be considered.

Multiple dogs intensify all of these effects, and for some dogs all of these effects are happening at the same time.

Some dogs are very uncomfortable sleeping on a hard floor, or a floor with an uncomfortable temperature, so they need something soft for a bed. And if they can’t find a place on the floor, they will be up on the bed.

Young children should never be left unsupervised with a dog, including in the bed or bedroom. A child should be at least 10 years old before a dog is allowed to sleep in the bedroom.

So, it is up to you. I have allowed dogs to sleep in bed with me, and I’ve done the opposite. I have decided that, overall, it is best to provide a dog bed, on the floor, for the dog, and to keep them off the bed. All this advice also applies to your other furniture: chairs, sofa, and so forth. I know people like the closeness of having a dog beside them, but I believe there are too many downsides.

Sam Basso is a professional dog trainer and behaviorist, in the Phoenix/ Scottsdale metropolitan area. He’s known for being fun, kind, intelligent, and humane. Sam Basso has a unique personal touch. He has appeared on his own TV show, been a guest radio expert, gives seminars, publishes a dog related blog, does rescue volunteering, and is active in promoting animal welfare and fair dog laws.


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