Dog sleeping in your bed

Should I Let My Dog Sleep With Me?

You might be wondering, should I let my dog sleep with me?

We thought this would be an interesting topic to discuss, especially for people who have recently adopted a puppy or dog. How do you decide where the pet will sleep?

Hi, Lindsay and Barbara here. Lindsay is the main blogger behind That Mutt, and Barbara writes regularly for That Mutt. She’s also a blogger at K9sOverCoffee.

We both love the idea of our pets sleeping with us, especially in the bed. But our dogs and Lindsay’s cats are way too disruptive. Sleep is important, and with our pets in the bedroom we don’t sleep well.

Our nighttime routine with our pets

Lindsay’s typical routine is to put their cats in the spare bedroom at night. Otherwise, they bother her and her husband. Her dog Ace slept on his dog bed (R.I.P buddy) in the main living area of their apartment where they couldn’t hear him snoring, licking himself, gagging (from licking himself!) or shaking his body and ears around.

Barbara crates her pup Wally at nighttime. His crate used to be in her bedroom, but she moved it into the bonus room and covers the crate with a blanket. That’s the only way to keep him from waking up at dawn and selfishly demanding breakfast in the most annoying way…you know, by whining and barking. F U N…not.

When she didn’t crate him, he’d whine as soon as he woke up and made it a point to wake Barbara up as well. When she crated him without the blanket, he’d STILL whine as soon as he woke up, which had the same result of waking Barbara up (and everyone else who happened to be in the house)! It was pretty annoying.

Dogs in the bed, with permission

We’re not opposed to dogs sleeping in the owner’s bed at night as long as the dog is not possessive of the bed or possessive of the owner. This can be avoided by creating the simple rule that the dog is allowed on the bed only with permission such as “up!”

Reasons to let your dog sleep in your bed

That being said, the following are some reasons to let your dog sleep in your bed with you – do you have any others? Let us know in the comment section below this article!

  • Comfort. There’s just something very comforting and soothing about a dog’s warm body snuggled up next to you.
  • Emotional support. Dogs are very good at picking up on our emotional state of being. They can be very therapeutic when we’re feeling blue.
  • Protection. Lindsay liked the idea of Ace being loose in their apartment at night because he did provide some amount of protection if someone had broken in. She knew Ace would never actually attack or bite anyone, but at least he was a big, black dog with a deep bark. Barbara feels the same way, but Wally’s annoying early morning routine when he’s not crated prevents him from being loose in the house at night. Hopefully that will change at some point.
  • Bonding. Sharing the same sleeping quarters definitely helps strengthen the bond between a dog and his human. Barbara still likes to nap on the couch with Wally.
  • Guilt from being gone all the time. Some humans are gone so much during the day that the only time they get to spend with their dog is at night.

Barbara’s dog Wally used to be allowed to sleep on her bed at night for reasons one and three, ha! That’s until he started crowding her when her boyfriend spent the night, and the early morning whining wasn’t ideal either.

Obviously, that behavior needed to be addressed and resulted in Wally’s loss of bed privileges. See her article Help – How I got my dog’s jealousy under control! for more information on this topic.

Wally on Barbara’s bed pre-boyfriend
Should I let my dog sleep with me?
Wally after his loss of bed privileges in his covered crate

Should I let my dog sleep with me? It’s OK to set rules for your pets

We want to underline that setting rules for your dog is not about being “dominant.” It’s about creating boundaries so we can live peacefully with our dogs.

And if the owner doesn’t want the dog on the bed, that’s OK too! The dog doesn’t get to decide. The human gets to decide.

There’s no way Lindsay and her husband could have let Ace sleep on their bed either. He was an extra gross dog who shed and drooled all the time. On top of that, he always had black, “drool crust” stuck to his jowls, along with fresh drool. He would have ruined their comforter and sheets in about a week if he had slept on their bed. Yuck.

Because of this, they created the “no dogs on the furniture” rule from day one and it worked out well. Ace actually seemed to prefer his dog bed because that was his routine.

See That Mutt’s article How to keep your dog off the furniture for down-to-earth tips on this topic!

Barbara allows her dog on the furniture (couches), but only when they’re covered with doggie blankets. Wally’s a wash-n-go dog with a short coat, but he still sheds quite a bit, hence the blankets. Thankfully he doesn’t drool – except when tasty treats and his raw dog food come out, ha!

Should you allow your dog on the furniture
Wally curled up on the couch lined with a doggie blanket

Why is it “bad” to let your dog sleep in your bed

We already touched on a few issues caused by dogs allowed to sleep in our beds, and there’s the potential for more, such as:

Resource guarding

Dogs can be pretty selfish and refuse to move once they’re on the bed. As long as they move when you tell them to and/or guide them off, that’s fine. But it starts to be a serious resource guarding problem when they defend their spot by growling, snarling, and ultimately biting you!

Separation anxiety

The downside of regular, nightly body contact with your dog can be that he becomes insecure when you’re not around, which can result in separation anxiety. Some signs of it are destructive behavior, inappropriate urinating inside, pacing, a tucked tail, and refusal to eat.

Issues with partner or spouse not approving

You and your partner should definitely be on the same side regarding your dog’s behavior. If you’re not, your dog will be confused because of the mixed signals he receives, and YOU will be arguing with your partner about what’s acceptable doggie behavior and what isn’t.

Allergies

This one’s pretty straight forward – some people are physically unable to share their beds with their dogs because of allergies.

Quality sleep is important!

It’s no secret that quality sleep is the key to a healthy life. It helps create a strong immune system, mental and physical fitness, as well as overall happiness. Since dogs have much shorter sleep cycles than we do, they also tend to wake us up more when they’re in bed with us. Not a good combination!

Dogs are gross, haha!

This varies from dog to dog, but some dogs are definitely more gross than others. For example, picture the drooling Mastiff or Bulldog that constantly farts and smells like the dirt he rolls around in. Doesn’t exactly trigger the image of the nicest sleeping partner, right?

Just don’t want a dog in the bed

Of course, some people don’t need a specific reason why they don’t want their dogs in bed with them. They just don’t want to share their sleeping space with an animal, and that’s perfectly acceptable too.

Ace the black Lab mix on his dog bed

Kennel training

If Lindsay’s dog had been at all destructive at night, she would have had him sleep in his crate. But, he never chewed things, never got into the trash and never had accidents. Because of this, he got to be free at night and when he was home alone.

When Lindsay and her husband got a second pup, Weimaraner Remy, he slept in a crate until they knew he could be trusted in the house. Since Remy was a puppy when he joined them, he slept in his crate for the first six months to form good habits.

Should you let your new puppy sleep with you?

Speaking of puppies, you may wonder what’s the right approach as far as your new puppy’s sleeping routine goes. Is it ok to let your puppy sleep with you? Or would the puppy be better off in a crate and/or a doggie bed?

There’s really no right answer and it depends on your personal preference, but of course there are pros and cons to consider:

Pros

  • Bonding with your new puppy
  • Sense of security for the puppy
  • Avoiding your puppy’s crying at night

See That Mutt’s article How long do puppies cry at night? for more information on this topic. Hint: It doesn’t last forever and can be nipped in the bud with a few tricks!

Cons

  • Potential house training issues
  • Puppies may accidentally be smothered
  • Resource guarding issues (growling when you try to lie down on your own bed)

See That Mutt’s article How to Stop A Dog From Growling At You On The Bed for 9 helpful tips for this issue.

Alternatives

  • Crate the puppy right next to your bed.
  • Place a soft heartbeat toy into the puppy’s crate or bed to mimic mom’s heartbeat.
  • If you decide on a puppy bed instead of a crate, place it on a surface that’s easy to clean such as kitchen or bathroom tile/wood floors. It’ll come in handy in case of nighttime potty accidents. Additionally, gate the sleeping area off to limit your puppy’s roaming attempts at night.

That being said and as we already pointed out throughout this article, we both prefer not to let our dogs sleep in bed with us, and the same goes for puppies. Wally was already a year and a half old when Barbara adopted him, but her previous two dogs came into her life as 8 week old puppies.

Back then, she crated them together so they’d have each other for comfort and snuggling reasons.

Puppies Missy and Buzz
Barbara’s puppies Missy and Buzz in their shared crate

That worked out great until they were about 5 months old. At that point, they had outgrown their initial shared crate and got their own respective ones.

Barbara’s dogs Missy and Buzz in their respective crates

See That Mutt’s article Dog and Puppy crate training for helpful tips about this topic.

Should I let my cat sleep with me?

Beamer the tan tabby cat

Lindsay’s cats are another story.

Her cats are/were really naughty. Beamer began meowing (howling!) to eat at about 5:15 a.m. unless he was in his cat carrier (R.I P. Beamer). So, most nights she put him in his carrier, especially on weekends. He didn’t howl in there, so that’s where he slept. Lindsay threw a blanket over it so he couldn’t tell when it was light out, and she left a loud fan on.

Her other cat, Scout, is usually quieter, but if he’s in their bedroom he starts sneezing (yep!) around 5:30 because he wants to eat. And if they close him out of their bedroom he cries on the other side to get in. So … he also has to be closed into the spare bedroom at night, often in his carrier as well.

Scout the gray tabby cat

Many dog owners put their dogs in crates every night, so Lindsay doesn’t feel bad at all that her cats have to go in theirs. She actually gets a fair amount of people who tell her they don’t sleep well at night because of their cats, and she always recommend putting the cats in another room or in their cat carriers. Why wouldn’t you?

So, that’s Lindsay’s routine. About once a week or so, she used to let Scout or Ace sleep in their bedroom and she woke up every hour to Ace licking himself or snoring or Scout stepping on her or walking around on the bed. Then, she was reminded why they’re usually not allowed to sleep with them.

So, what do the rest of you do?

Do you let your dog or cat sleep in your bedroom?

Should I let my dog sleep with me?

Lindsay Stordahl is the founder of That Mutt. She writes about dog training and behavior, healthy raw food for pets and running with dogs.

Barbara Rivers writes regularly for That Mutt. She is a blogger, raw feeder and dog walker and maintains the blog K9s Over Coffee.

31 thoughts on “Should I Let My Dog Sleep With Me?”

  1. My two smaller dogs will often sleep in the bed, which can cause some interesting twisting and turning to accommodate. Thankfully, my big dog, Vince, prefers to stay in his own bed! I don’t mind the dog hair so much, so I also let them have free rein on the furniture.

    I do very much appreciate what you’re saying about dominance, though! It’s very important to not compete with your dog, even for space on the bed. I’ll work on that! Great thoughts, Lindsay- thanks for sharing.

  2. My boyfriend is terrible for bringing Chip up to bed with him. I don’t mind the odd time, but like you, I do not get a peaceful night sleep with paws digging into my back every few minutes.

    However, she is extremely good for coming back down to her own bed when we want her too….she does mope coming down the stairs a bit but she obey’s anyway! For the first year at least, she did not sleep in our bedroom once and I think this really helped. Because now, she doesn’t expect to be brought up every night. When I am going to bed, she gives me a hopeful look and waits to see if I say come on or not! If I don’t, she just curls up in her own bed and hopes that maybe she will be lucky the next night!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Aww, so cute. Ace gives us a hopeful look too. Every now and then we bring his bed into our room for him to sleep on, but most nights we don’t. He’s just too noisy! 🙂

      And I usually let the cats cuddle with me for 10 minutes or so before I kick them out. My gray cat Scout also gives me the hopeful look and then goes limp when I try to lift him out of the bed.

  3. This was a point of contention in our house when we got Hiccup. I didn’t want him in the bed because he had some possessiveness issues, as well as separation anxiety, but my husband did. He’d flip out and hurt himself in a crate, but he’d otherwise run circles around our bed all night. I compromised by tethering him to a desk. I figured that if the dog couldn’t cope with laying ten feet from us over night, how would he ever learn to cope with me actually leaving the house?

    I eventually caved and let my husband put him on the bed, but he soon got possessive and growled at me for trying to move him and lost all bed privileges. I also didn’t like that he insisted on sleeping between my husband and I, preventing us from cuddling. He’s improved in leaps and bounds since that time, and as of a couple weeks ago he earned back his bed rights. We’ve had no problems so far! *cross fingers*

  4. My dogs go back and forth from their beds to ours, but the cat is totally banished from the bedroom. She is nocturnal and always walked across our sleeping bodies during the night.

    “Oh, did I wake you up?”

  5. Piri stays with us on the bed but doesn’t stay for long. When one of us or both of us are out of the bed, that’s when he likes to sleep there. ha! i guess he likes his space 🙂

  6. When Mom got Katie, there were no dogs allowed in the bedroom, so she still doesn’t sleep in the bedroom since she learned not to as a puppy. I learned to sleep in my own bed on the floor next to Mom. Bailie got to sleep in bed from the first night. She is perfect for sleeping in bed according to Mom as she snuggles and rarely wakes her up. Mom has tried putting me in bed too, but I always hop down into my own bed. The cats? They are a human’s worst nightmare. They sleep on top of Mom so she can’t move, they start meowing as early as 4am and wake us all up, but they haven’t been banned since they make so much noise if they are locked out no one can even go to sleep. Mom has a king size bed, so there is a lot of space.

  7. Nami’s “house” is our bed. She spends nearly all of her time on it and attached to me or hubby all day, every day. She sleeps on the bed and is the snuggliest, most sensitive pibble ever. Allie gets on the bed to visit but sleeps in her own bed next to ours.

  8. The guide dog puppies are never allowed on the bed or furniture, but it’s a different story with my own dogs. When I started training Linus I didn’t allow him on the bed or furniture, but when he was about one year old we let him on the bed. Now he does sometimes sleeps on the bed, but I feel like it’s more my preference as he seems to still prefer sleeping on the floor. On the other hand, Stetson loves the bed. He was originally trained as a guide dog so he was never allowed on the bed. At around 2 years old after he was career changed we let him on the bed. I mostly get good nights sleep, but once in a while I wake up curled up like a ball or shaped like an “S” because Stetson has taken over the bed in the middle of the night.

      1. When I first started raising puppies I was worried that there would be issues with different rules for different dogs. I’m on my fifth puppy along with puppy sitting dozens of others and I haven’t had any problems with having separate rules for the guide dog puppies.

  9. Baxter sleeps in his bed on our bedroom floor. For the most part he’s pretty quiet… except for when the coyotes come through the farm, but I can’t really blame him for that. He’s most comfortable in his own bed. He’s invited onto our bed occasionally, but only for morning snuggles when one of us is already up. He looks longingly at the bed and likes being invited, but he also likes his personal space too much to share the bed with both of us.

  10. Before I was married, my dog Daisy, a spaniel mix, slept in my bed. When my husband and I moved into our first place, he made the “no dogs on the bed” rule. Daisy seemed to adapt to the new rule easily (probably because everything was new). My dogs now sleep in their crates (they aren’t trustworthy for different reasons), but I do worry if they will get out in case of a fire. On the plus side, we know exactly where to look for them if we do have a fire. The cat has free run of the downstairs at all times, but the upstairs is supposed to be a pet free zone. (I do let Theo sleep with me when my husband isn’t home, because he’s the best sleep buddy ever. However, I change the sheets and my husband either doesn’t know or doesn’t care.)

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      When my husband isn’t home, all three animals sleep with me. Cats in the bed and Ace by the bed. I sleep terribly, but that’s OK just for a night or two. 🙂

  11. I used to let my dogs sleep with me, if they wished. Sephi never liked to sleep in bed with me. I guess I moved around too much. And so I was delighted when I got Maya and she wanted to snuggle. But things changed when I got married. It was a bit of adjustment but I actually prefer the dogs not to sleep in my bed. Why? Dog hair. Lots and lots of dog hair. Plus, Maya is a bed hog. Another benefit to not letting them sleep with us all the time is that when I do let them share the bed or furniture with me (when my honey isn’t home), it is an extra special occasion.

  12. Kaya, Norman & Gina sleep on the bed with me! I do love it but I have a cal king bed which helps …though the dogs are usually snuggled up close to me and half the bed is empty anyways. And Kaya sleeps under the covers! I totally agree with you that if a dog is possessive or destructive they should be crated but I guess I’ve lucked out. Since each of their 1st night’s as little puppies, I let them in the bed and they slept through the night and well into the next morning. And it’s been that way ever since.

    I must admit though, I could not handle sleeping with a long haired dog. The thought of sharing the bed with Zoey makes me cringe. I guess because she is so sheddy and holds onto that stinky dog smell. Oh, I also cannot handle snoring. Also lucky for me that Kaya & Norman do not snore!

    Sometimes Norman stays on the couch when we go to bed but comes to my room at some point in the night. I love waking up to his white face in the morning, not knowing if he’d be there.

    Gina has another agenda. She wakes up at dawn and meows until I let her outside. About an hour later she has to come back in to eat. Then usually back out again. And maybe back in. She must have me wrapped around her little paw because I never mind her interruptions while I would pretty much murder a person if they got me up at that hour.

  13. Both of our dogs sleep in the bedroom with us. This seems to work fine, except as you know when there are thunderstorms during the summer months. And fall months. And spring months. So whenever the forecast calls for rain, our fearful one gets kenneled. I like having them in there with us. They don’t get to be on the bed though. When we’re in it anyway! And actually, I’d probably let our springer sleep out in the family room, but I’ve tried that in the past and once in a while she hears neighbors or something and starts barking pretty darn loudly, which would be a good thing if it were an intruder I guess! Our kitty gets to be free some nights and is kenneled some nights too. Bottom line is, find what works for you best so you get your sleep. Great post!

  14. Rio usually sleeps wherever he wants in the house (couch), but he just started getting these privileges recently. Otherwise he was crated as a pup. Lola is allowed to sleep on the bed a few nights a week if she chooses – otherwise she usually sleeps in her crate – it’s her little cozy spot :).

  15. We have (2) Pit/Boxer mix’s and they both sleep in bed with me every night. One of them “Ruby” prefers to be under the covers. The other “Addy” is about 25% on the floor (when its hot) and 75% on top of the covers with her head on one of the pillows.

  16. I allow my puppy to sleep with me only because she used to try to harm herself when in the crate. I’ve learned that as long as I leave the crate open,she’ll sleep in there perfectly fine. Occasionally she’ll sleep with me when she feels uncomfortable, scared or just in need of some extra cuddles

  17. When we got Blue from the Humane Society, we actually encouraged him to sleep with us. It helped with bonding and he is such a gentle pup. When Stella came into our lives as a puppy, it was ok but she has some licking and sprawling habits when we go to bed. As she got older (and bigger) we were running out of room. At that point we put up a baby gate so they have run of the house at night except for the bedroom. We would still allow them to sleep with us on “special” occasions. At first, Stella would sit outside of the baby gate and whine, but over time she has gotten used to it.

    The main reasons for cutting down their bed times was Stella’s nighttime antics, the fact that we were washing our bed sheets every couple days because they couldn’t help but track in some dirt sometimes (Blue is a digger), and the topper was when I got Lyme Disease earlier this year. We have made some adjustments and the pups have also adjusted well. It helps that Stella is now about 2-1/2 so she’s getting to the end of her “puppy stages”. They both have acclimated well to sleeping together on the love seat or in the dog bed. And, yes, we do still have the “special” occasions sometimes. Not often, but they consider it a treat to be allowed to sleep there.

  18. Charlie is my first dog, and he had been in two different homes within the past months before I adopted him. On Charlie’s first night with me, I put him in his crate. He whined and cried and wouldn’t be quiet. Since I live in an apartment complex, I was afraid that my neighbors would hear him. So I placed the crate on top of my bed, next to me. Of course this didn’t work either! So after about 30 minutes I let him out and he promptly lay down next to me and was quiet. He’s been on the bed ever since! As long as he stays on ‘his’ side or between his pillows, I’m fine with it!

  19. Once our puppy was potty trained, we started letting her sleep on the floor, on a blanket, next to our bed. I take off her collar so her shaking doesn’t wake us up. After my husband leaves for work, early in the morning, I pick her up and snuggle in bed with her. She rarely bothers me or wakes me up. It’s wonderful bonding time. She doesn’t beg for it, but she loves it!

  20. Honestly it is one of the great pleasures at the end of the day to cuddle up with one or both of my dogs – Shian who is going blind – he cannot see at all except in bright light – so he wants to be by his human daddy until the light returns – Tohee my fur-girl is just a cuddle monkey but likes to sleep on her own bed – I guess we all need a break from training – and when lights go off – the dogs can sleep on my bed or choose the floor or the sofas – sweet furry dreams….

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