When dogs come to board at our home one of the questions I ask their owners is where their dog sleeps in their house. I can tell immediately from a dog owner’s facial expression whether the dog sleeps on or off their bed. I’ve found that if their pooch shares their sleeping space, owners often delay answering my question; the answer is usually accompanied by a deep blush. On the other hand, if their pet does not sleep on their bed I am usually given a short sermon about why this is the only way to go. These types of interactions have got me thinking as to what the right sleeping situation is for both parties.
Right off the bat I must say that whatever an owner chooses, it should be their personal choice. I don’t believe that there is a right or wrong choice, as both options have pros and cons.
In February of 2011 the Center for Disease Control and Prevention did a study. It was found that women were more likely to share their bed with their dog than were men. Fifty-three percent of dog owners (both male and female) admitted to sleeping with their dog on their bed. Forty-one percent of those dogs were medium sized. However, the study found that in one out of three cases, owners slept with a large dog on their bed. The purpose of this research was to study the risks of bed-sharing; researchers found that bed-sharing can actually be risky to the elderly or children since some diseases can be transferred from dogs to humans.
Yet, other studies have concluded that our beloved canines help to lower our blood pressure, promote exercise, and help ease the feeling of loneliness for those on their own. These are certainly positive considerations to owning a dog; pooches aide in our personal wellness.
However, on the flip side our sleep can be disrupted by our dog’s scratching, licking or moving/shifting positions throughout the night if they are on our beds. Many dogs insist on full body contact with their owners, often lying against their legs or backside. One of my earliest posts was on dogs and their sleeping positions; bed-sharers may identify with some of my descriptions, https://dogstwentyfourseven.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/sleeping-beauties/
I have a client who owns a French bulldog/Chihuahua mix. Before boarding her pet, I asked about its sleeping preference. She looked very sheepish and told me that Mo liked to sleep under their covers! This was a first for me to hear and I was unsure of how to respond. I actually caved on this request, which I am sure has fifty percent of you shaking your heads in disbelief. Mo dove under the covers and stayed without moving all night! She was like a live hot water bottle in the winter months. I can’t say the experience would have been so positive with a bigger dog!
Growing up my parents never allowed our Labrador to come up to the second floor of the house. Ben knew this was the rule and never tried to sneak his way upstairs; we did not even have to block off his access. He was happy being on the main floor where most of the family hung out, in our garden with us, or in the basement family room.
I have had the occasional dog come to board that also is not allowed upstairs in their home but I do not insist on the same rule in our house. Their dog is on holiday when it’s with us; when its owners are on holiday, I’m a strong believer in softening the rules for them, too! I have one dog, Bernie, a big Goldie-poo, that takes great delight in heading up our stairs when on “vacation.”
As for our family, we have not made one sole choice regarding where our dogs sleep. We allow dogs to hop on our bed during the daytime as it is a prime location to view the street below. I mentioned our dog’s love for this spot in my post from a few months ago, https://dogstwentyfourseven.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/pride-rock/. We only allow dogs on the bed if they are “invited” i.e. sitting nicely beside the bed, giving us a look which I believe means “please let me hop aboard.” This time can be a very rewarding bonding experience when the two and four legged are in a restful state.
A daily routine for dogs is very effective and a regular bedtime one helps things run smoothly.We take off our dogs’ collars at night to cut down on the jingling sounds of scratching or walking around the house. We will say with a laugh to the dogs “it’s time to get naked” and then remove their collars.
I do think that bed manners are crucial and should be enforced. A dog should not push their owners out of the way on their beds! Or hog tons of space. We encourage any dog to sleep at the foot of the bed – not up on any pillows.
Decide what your family’s rules will be when getting a puppy. Consistency is very important and it’s only fair to avoid confusion for the dog. Puppies should be crated at night for their personal safety. Small dogs are at risk on high up beds if they fall off by accident or jump off with too much force.
Ember, our new addition, is delighted to lie beside our bed on the floor. She is retired from breeding and has never experienced the option of a human bed or a dog bed. Her previous owner, a top notch lab breeder, had beautifully clean facilities for her dogs and lots of space indoors and outdoors, but no dog beds. We have encouraged Ember to try out the dog beds in our house but the idea seems foreign to her for now. We have decided to not encourage her up onto our bed as she is not interested and is very content in her new forever home with us.
Abby is thirteen now and can sadly no longer jump onto our bed. Her desire to be on our bed seems to have diminished with age. She happily has a choice of three cozy dog beds in our house or a sofa in our living-room.
In closing I would like to add I am not a dog trainer, and my opinion regarding a dog sleeping on your bed at night should be a personal one that works for you. Everyone’s need for sleep is different, there is no right or wrong, just what works under your roof. Sweet dreams!
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