Should You Share Your Bed With Your Dog? Top Things to Consider...
When it comes to getting the best rest possible, there are many considerations, including your bed, sleep environment and night routines. But one thing you should ask yourself when it comes to getting better rest is whether or not you want to share your bed with your four-legged companion. That’s right — one of the most common questions amongst pet owners when it comes to their best sleep is: “Should I let my dog sleep in my bed?”
If you’ve been weighing the pros and cons of co-sleeping with a pet of any kind, you may want to explore the facts and find a solution that makes you — and your furry friend — comfortable.
Pros to Sharing Your Bed With Your Dog
They’re cute, they’re warm and, if you’re lucky, they’re even cuddly. It’s easy to see why so many pet owners want to snuggle up with their dogs. In fact, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 46% of Americans report regularly sharing their bed with their pet (with younger respondents tending to share their bed more often than older respondents). Moreover, of people who sometimes or almost always share their bed, only 19% say that it negatively affects their sleep. But whether it’s right for you and your pet depends on a few factors.
“I think the answer to this probably has everything to do with the dog’s size and sleep abilities,” says Dr. Chris Winter, neurologist, Sleep.com advisor and author of “The Rested Child” and “The Sleep Solution.” “There is some research that says health outcomes and mood outcomes can improve when patients sleep with dogs.”
A 2020 study published in the journal Animals found that while women who co-slept with their dogs tended to move more during the night than those who did not, they rarely reported any disruptions to their sleep. A 2021 study published in Sleep Health on pet-human co-sleeping and bedsharing in children and adolescents ages 11-17 found similar sleep dimensions whether or not the participants slept with a pet. And a two-part 2021 study on adolescents co-sleeping with pets found no differences in sleep quality depending on age, gender or co-sleeping status.
Having a dog nearby can provide feelings of security and companionship, as well as warmth on chilly nights. That said, the feeling of security can often lead to codependence, making it hard to fall asleep without your dog nearby.
Cons to Letting the Dog Sleep in Your Bed
One of the biggest drawbacks to getting cozy with a pet, whether dog, cat or another kind of animal, is allergies. In addition to shedding fur, pets also shed dander, which can trigger allergies and lure dust mites to your bed.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, cat and dog allergies affect about 10-20% of the population, worldwide. But even for those who are not allergic to pet fur or dander, pets are also more likely to lure dust mites to your bed. Pets who go outside can also track in environmental allergens, including pollen and spores, which may exacerbate hay fever and other allergies for those prone to it.
It’s also worth noting that even the cleanest pups and kittens can bring unwanted elements into bed. Pets can carry fleas, ticks, parasites and even some rare diseases. Although the chances are small, it is possible for pets to transmit everything from ringworm to bacterial infections when sleeping in close quarters with their owners, so take that info into consideration before making co-sleeping a nightly habit.
As for your sleep quality, that depends on how you and your dog sleep. Some dogs can be restless at night and disrupt your sleep with their movement, or some may snore, which can be an inconvenience. It’s also good to keep in mind how you’re training your dog. If a dog is allowed to sleep in the bed with you from an early age, it can be difficult to train them to sleep in their own bed later. That closeness can also trigger separation anxiety for dogs if you attempt to change routines later.
If your dog provides feelings of security, be sure that it doesn’t snowball into a situation where you — or your child — cannot sleep with having the dog nearby.
Determining the Best Bedtime Arrangement for You and Your Dog
Whether or not to allow your dog to sleep in bed with you is a deeply personal decision, and it is important to consider the factors listed above as well as how sharing a bed with your dog may affect your overall sleep and wellness. When weighing the pros and cons, be honest about your situation and needs. Don’t be afraid to try out different sleeping arrangements with your dog. After all, there are many excellent pet beds out there to choose from.
How to Safely Share the Bed With Pets
Sharing a bed with your pet can be a great way to bond and create a sense of security. But it’s important to make sure bed sharing is safe for both you and your pet. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Make Sure Your Pet Is Healthy
Pets with certain health conditions might be most safe sleeping in their own bed or crate. If you or your pet have health conditions — including pregnancy — discuss with your dog’s veterinarian or your own primary care physician whether or not sharing a bed is right for you.
Train Your Pet to Sleep in a Specific Spot
Training your dog to sleep in one spot can be a great way to co-sleep with your furry friend. By establishing a spot for your pet to sleep in, you can prevent them from taking over the bed and crowding you during the night.
Keep the Bed Clean
If your dog sleeps in or on your bed, it’s important to regularly launder your bedding — ideally at least weekly. Be sure to also launder your pillows and duvet regularly and vacuum your headboard and under-bed area, as well as sweep or vacuum around the bed to minimize pet dander and bacteria, which can trigger allergies and draw dust mites.
Keep Yourself and Your Pet Comfortable
Your mattress should be ideal for your sleep needs and sleep position, but it may not be ideal for your pet. Senior dogs, for example, may prefer more cushion than a firm mattress. If you need to add layering for Fido, consider adding a soft blanket at the foot of the bed for your pet to cozy up on. For you, be sure that your pet’s nails are trimmed and teeth are regularly cleaned so that sharp nails or bad breath don’t awaken you overnight.
Be Honest About Your Pet's Behavior
Not every pet is cut out for bed-sharing. If your pet tends to be restless or have nightmares, it may be best to establish their own bed or spot to sleep. And if your dog is clingy, creating a separate sleep space may help minimize codependence that can lead to depression if you work outside the house by day.
Be Mindful of Children
If you have children in the house, try to keep their door closed so that the dog doesn’t attempt to sleep on their bed, waking them up overnight. It’s important for children to develop independent sleep habits, without needing an animal to help them fall asleep. If your child comes into your room at night, be sure the pet isn’t territorial over who can share the bed.
What If You Can’t Fall Asleep Without Your Pet in the Bed?
Winter says that in instances when you — or your child — can’t seem to sleep without the comfort of your pet in bed, co-sleeping may be an OK option, but it’s probably not ideal in the long term. “I'm always hesitant to create or facilitate any kind of sleep dependence,” he says. “I would make sure that the individual understands that they can in fact sleep without their pet — it's impossible to not sleep. We want pets to enhance [sleep], not develop a sense that the pet is creating the sleep.”
While developing a dependence on any creature or object for sleep isn’t necessarily a solid long-term strategy, sometimes a snuggle buddy just helps take the edge off. For kids or adults who just need an occasional anxiety-reducer, Winter suggests something like Somnox, a sleeping companion that simulates breathing rhythms and can create a calming sensation that makes it easier to fall asleep. “Also, stuffed animals or maybe a toy that a pet likes that smells like the pet could be comforting,” he adds.
Ultimately, the decision is up to you, but it’s important to know what you’re possibly getting into when you get into bed with a pet. If you’re just in need of a little warmth and coziness, you might want to consider a weighted blanket or weighted stuffed animal to help quell your anxiety, and plan to see your pet pal in the morning.
Dog Sleeping FAQ
Are Dogs Happier When They Sleep in Your Bed?
As social animals, dogs typically enjoy spending time with their owners. However, just like people, some dogs may be perfectly content to sleep in their own bed or in a designated sleeping area, while others may prefer to sleep in the same bed as their owners.
Why Are Dogs Not Allowed on the Beds?
While whether you let your dog sleep in your bed is up to you, the biggest reason why sleep experts might say dogs shouldn’t be allowed in the bed is due to concerns with hygiene in the bed, as dogs can carry a lot of germs on their fur and paws. Pets sleeping with you may also bring shedding, drooling, or accidents in your bed.
What Is the Percentage of Pet Owners Who Sleep in Bed With Their Dog?
The American Pet Products Association (APPA) found that around 56% of small dog owners, 41% of medium dog owners, and 32% of large dog owners reported that their dogs sleep in the bed with them.
Do Dogs Sleep All Night?
Yes. Dogs have periods of deep sleep and periods of lighter sleep (just like humans), and cycle through these different stages throughout the night. Generally, dogs spend about half of their sleep time in deep, slow-wave sleep and the other half in lighter sleep and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
How Can Dogs Tell It’s Bedtime?
Dogs learn to recognize certain cues that tell them it's bedtime. This can include seeing you go through your bedtime routine, responding to specific commands or sounds, and recognizing certain smells right before bedtime.