Figuring out where a dog is going to sleep can turn into a needlessly complicated issue. You have your new pup at home, and while both excited and exhausted from your first day together, you lock him in his crate and you head upstairs to bed.
And then the crying starts.
If you are trying to crate train the pup, then you really are going to have to leave him down there. He will figure it out, but it might mean a few nights of dealing with the crying. There may even be some wake up calls in the wee-hours to let him out if he isn't house-trained just yet. (Wee hours? See what I did there?) That's all part of having a puppy.
But sleeping in a crate may not be for everyone.
Once your dog is house trained, he may want to sleep on a regular dog bed, or he may want to just sleep somewhere near you. My first dog was happy to sleep on an old sweatshirt on the floor next to the bed as long as she was in the same room. I bought her a dog bed soon after and that's where she stayed...for about three months. She realized around two a.m. one cold winter morning that she wanted to upgrade her sleeping situation. Despite her fur and her soft snuggly bed, it just wasn't enough. So she jumped on my bed. I made a feeble attempt to kick her off, and she just jumped right back on.
Had DogSheetz been invented at the time, I would have done that.
I could have used this time to assert myself as sole proprietor of the bed, but like I said, it was two in the morning. If there is anytime to pick your battles, that would be it. My schedule required a wake up time of five thirty, and I did not want to turn this into an issue that would deprive me of necessary sleep.
But that created the question: did I just ruin my dog by letting her sleep on the bed?
According to Whole Dog Journal, it really comes down to personal choice. Unlike many dog trainers and behaviorists from days of yore, this is not a dominance issue. Dominance training has largely been debunked in dog training circles. Basically, if the dog wants to sleep on the bed with you, it's not out of a need to take over the relationship and show you who is boss.
There are good reasons to let your pup share the bed with you:
- It can let you sleep deeper. PetMD points out that having a dog asleep next to you can relax you, allowing you to fall into a deeper sleep.
- Your dog will feel closer to you. This is a great way to bond with a dog - you are showing each other that you have trust and feel perfectly comfortable catching your zzz's with one another.
- Dogs are a fantastic source of warmth. For those of us living in colder climates, this is huge. Fifty pounds (give or take) of warm puppy sleeping next to you can keep those feet warm in the dead of winter. The hard part is waking up early to a few feet of snow outside when all you want to do is stay in bed snuggled with the pooch. And of course, it may not be super comfortable in warmer months having a hot fur coat next to you when you are trying to sleep.
There are, of course, a few downsides to doing this.
- Allergies can be a problem. Even if you are not allergic to pet dander, dogs bring the outside world in with them on their fur. They can't change out of their work clothes and put the outside world into a hamper to be laundered. If you suffer from allergies, this could be an issue. A good HEPA filter can help, as well as a humidifier. Also, remember to brush your pet regularly. Bathing is important as well but that can turn into another battle. Sometimes just taking a wet towel or rag and wiping down your pup's fur can remove a lot of dirt and whatever else is lingering.
- The dog wants to get up and move. This is annoying. Like us, dogs move around in their sleep sometimes. Unlike us, they may not just scootch over just a bit. They might stand up, circle around, and flop down next to you. Similar to my dog, they may decide "No, that's not right" a few times before getting it right. If that happens and it disturbs your sleep enough, your dog may need to sleep somewhere else.
- Dogs can be bed hogs. Dogs can sprawl leaving you with just an edge of the bed to sleep on. Now it's up to you. If this works, then keep the dog on the bed. But if this is preventing you from having a restful sleep, re-establish your boundaries.
- Accidents can happen. There should not be too much of an issue with adult dogs peeing. It might happen with puppies, which is just another reason for puppies to sleep in crates. But vomiting might occur - and while you'd have to get up and clean it anyway, do you really need this in your bed?
- Your dog might be Mr. CrankyPants while sleeping If your dog elicits any sort of "don't touch me" growls, then by all means your dog needs to find a new place to sleep. That is some stress that you do not need. If there more two or more dogs on the bed and someone decides to get territorial, then the pups will need to find a new place to sleep.
The bottom line is that this is your sleep space. If you want your dog to snuggle with you and it does not interrupt your sleep, then by all means go ahead. But it should also be obvious that your dog can sleep just about anywhere - dogs are gold medalists at this. So if your sleep is less than restful, then don't feel the slightest bit of guilt finding a new place for him to spend the night.
*IF* you prefer that your dog sleep on a dog bed but the dog is not quite taking to it, we have a solution. At Really Good Pets, we are taking pre-orders on our new product DogSheetz. This new blanket is made to go around a dog bed (or pillow). It's a super soft fleece with a special quality to make it water proof. This makes life much easier when dealing with any accidents - the blanket can go right into the washer and it does not retain the scent of urine, making it suitable for long-term use. It is also cozy and comfortable, and we are certain that your dog will fall in love with it.