For comfort, or because they simply can’t get them to stop, many dog owners share a bed with their pets.
A 2015 survey found that more than half of respondents slept with their pets in the bedroom, while another 2020 survey found that 86% of puppy owners said their pets would prefer to sleep with their pets if given the choice. Around humans, this is understandable.
Weekly newspaper With the help of Jacqui Zakar, animal behaviorist and owner of Dog Sense Training and Behavior, explore the potential benefits and dangers of sleeping with pets.
Why do dogs sleep in human beds?
It probably all started on a cold, rainy night not long after you got your first puppy, curling them up in your soft, warm bed, sharing snacks, and watching a movie. Fast forward to a year later, and your dog has even learned to open the door to gain access to the best sleeping spot in the house, while you suffer from broken sleep patterns and the occasional nighttime nap.
“People like their dogs to sleep with them for a number of reasons,” Zakar told Weekly newspaper. “It helps them feel safe and gives comfort. Some people think that letting your dog sleep with you in bed represents love, but that’s not the case. Meeting a dog’s need for mental stimulation, exercise, rest, freedom and play is love. There are plenty of dogs who prefer to sleep on a hard tile floor rather than a human bed, but that doesn’t mean they feel any less loved.
“Some dogs value sleeping in our beds more than others,” she added. “More independent breeds like huskies or livestock guardian dogs may actually prefer sleeping outside, but you’ll always come across those who are exceptions. Dogs that are naturally more drawn to human affection may enjoy being with their owners, But there is also a desire to sleep next to the owner at times.” Being close to humans can be the result of insecurity or even possessive aggression. “
While letting your dog sleep in your bed might seem counterproductive, data collected by the Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep Medicine in Arizona found that 20 percent of the 56 percent of owners who allow their pets to sleep in their bedrooms consider the behavior disruptive, while 41% said their pets are unobtrusive and even good for sleep.
“If it provides comfort and helps the owner feel more connected, the relationship is healthy and the dog is polite, then there’s really no problem,” Zakar said. “Having a dog around for safety, for solitude, for stress can bring Come to great comfort.”
A dog in bed can also help treat sleep apnea, a serious condition that can affect anyone of any age and causes a person’s breathing to be interrupted while sleeping, starving the brain and other vital organs of oxygen. Sleep apnea increases the risk of stroke, heart failure, depression, headaches, and other conditions.
About 30 million people in the United States suffer from sleep apnea, but only 6 million have been diagnosed with the condition, according to the American Medical Association.
“Service dogs can address many physical and mental health issues, including sleep apnea,” according to the American Society for Service Animals. “Service dogs can also alert people with sleep apnea when they experience severe sleep problems throughout the night.”
Of course, there are some downsides to letting your dog into your sleeping space, the most obvious of which is disrupted sleep patterns.
Another obvious downside to letting your dog sleep in a bed is hygiene. While we may think our dogs are spotless, the truth is we never know what might be between their toes, fur or in their mouths.
“Whether we like it or not, dogs don’t have the same hygiene habits as us, they carry a lot of dirt and sometimes parasites,” Zakar said.
A lesser known problem is resource conservation, a serious behavioral problem that can be exacerbated by the practice of letting your dog sleep in your bed.
“Dogs engage in resource guarding behavior because they fear losing a valuable resource, whether it’s food, a toy, or space,” Zakar said. “When a dog feels insecure and another dog or person approaches what they’re guarding When, for example, a new partner, they may resort to aggressive behavior to deter threats. It is important to know our beds, our space, our affections, and our rooms. For many dogs, all of these can be considered valuable resources. “
Zakar also doesn’t recommend letting dogs into the bed for couples planning to have a baby.
“Bringing home a newborn is a time of major change for a dog,” she said. “Their routines have changed and they’ve received less attention, which can be stressful. Dogs aren’t naturally fond of babies, despite what pop culture suggests. Children in the home are more likely to be bitten by dogs than any other group.” Hope a dog likes a new baby is never a safe strategy.”
“Set spatial boundaries before the baby is born,” she advises. “The safest way to do this is to set up no-go zones, including the baby’s room and the parents’ bed. No novice parent wants a dog competing for their attention while feeding the baby in bed at 3am, and giving the dog his own space is the safest option for hygiene and safety.” Safe practice.” is also the best option. “
How to Train Your Dog to Get Out of Your Bed
While it’s possible for puppies to develop good habits, it’s slightly more difficult for older dogs to break established habits, “but as long as you set your dog up to succeed, it’s fine,” Zakar says.
For puppies, “it starts with deciding what the rules in the house are,” she adds. “It’s a mistake to be lenient with puppies and think that you’re going to change boundaries when they get older. Teaching your puppy how to live with you from the start sets your dog up for success.”
Zakar suggests crate training is the perfect way to discourage bad habits and create a safe space for your pup. “I highly recommend reserving crates for adult dogs because if they get injured or have a newborn in the house, they have their own space to settle in and feel safe,” she says.
“If the dog is allowed to lie on the bed from time to time, make sure both puppies and older dogs are taught boundaries,” Zakkar says. “If they are being carried to the bed or asked to jump on it, give clear cues, such as” OK” or “UP” so they know you’re giving permission. When you hold them down again, give a clear signal letting them know they’re getting off, like “OFF” or “GET DOWN”. In the early stages , just pair the moment you bring up or take off the words, so later, they will understand the association and be able to follow the cue.