It’s confession time again. My dogs occasionally sleep on my bed overnight and often join me for a lie-in at the weekend. This has zero impact on their day to day behaviour or whether they are willing or able to respond if I ask them to do something. If anything, I’d say it increases our bond and relationship.
It’s always a source of interest to me when I ask clients where their dogs sleep and they reply, slightly embarrassed, ‘on the bed’. Along the road to helping people have better behaved dogs, someone came up with a theory, without any scientific verification or proof. They decided that allowing a dog to sleep in an owner’s bed at night, was having a direct effect on the dog’s behaviour during the day. Refusing to come back when called, stealing and guarding objects and even pulling on the leash could be influenced by where the dog slept.
Before my puppies are 14 weeks old, they sleep in as many varied places as possible to help them grow into adaptable and well adjusted family pets. This includes crating in various rooms of the house, sleeping inside my van, in my sleeping bag in a tent, in other people’s homes and of course, in my bed. The deal is though, you sleep where I put you, without fuss or noise. Just because you slept in my bed last night, doesn’t mean you’ll be in the bed again tonight. That’s my rule. It doesn’t need to be yours.
I will say though, that if your dog only ever sleeps in your bed, you may at some point need to say ‘it’s no longer possible’ (for example due to illness or a new baby arriving). This will be far more traumatic for your dog and harder for them to adjust, if you’ve never taught them to settle elsewhere. This is why I train adaptability and vary their sleeping location often when they’re young.
If your dog is being aggressive towards you when on your bed (growling, snapping, biting), then clearly he shouldn’t be on the bed and you need to seek professional help. If your dog cannot sleep elsewhere overnight and gets distressed if you try this, then you may also need professional help. This level of dependency is not good for your dog’s mental health.
If however your dog doesn’t fall into these two categories, enjoy the guilt free pleasure of having a warm, furry hot water bottle to keep you company while you sleep. This is surely one of of the many benefits of dog ownership.
Sage and Jellybean on my bed for a lie-in!