Your dog is in your bed....
So it's too late, your dog is sleeping in your bed with you. Some people love nothing more than having their dog sleeping with them in their bedroom at night.
Or maybe your dog is next to the bed, in its own dog bed or under the bed. There’s nothing better for this tribe than having a hairy woofer snoring within close range, right?
Other people are horrified by the idea. They believe that dogs should keep their dirty paws off the duvet and out of the bedroom. Some also reckon that letting your pooch into your inner sanctuary will encourage dominant dog behaviour.
What do you think? Whatever your view, what’s the best way to train your dog to stick by your bedroom rules? We explore all the pros and cons of having your dog sleep with or near you.
There are many reasons why people choose to let their dog sleep in their bedroom. For one thing, it’s comforting to know that a hairy hound is close by, providing company and protection in the deepest darkest hours of the night. In some way, this appeals to an ancient part of our psyche.
According to a 2018 study of 962 women, just over half (55%) allowed their dog to share a bed with them. The same report also found that these people slept better than when their bed was dog-free.
Dogs can also act as a furry hot water bottle, and stroking them will help raise your oxytocin levels, making it easier for you to relax and drift off to sleep.
Why you should keep your dog out of the bedroom
1. Mud, dirt & fleas
If you think about all the places your dog roams during the day – on pavements, in muddy hedgerows, sploshing through puddles – they are likely to pick up the odd bit of dirt. To be frank, those paws are not going to be pristine. And if you wouldn't walk on your duvet in your hiking boots, why would you want your dog to trample across your linens with their muddy paws? Plus, fleas. Obviously, your dog will have regular flea treatments. But if they do get an infestation, you really don't want those critters in your bed. Just the thought of it makes us itch.
2. Encouraging dominant dog behaviour
One often-quoted theory is that if you allow your dog to sleep on your bed, they’ll decide they’re higher than you in the pecking order and do as they please the rest of the time.
This dog dominance theory is based on a study of wolf behaviour that has been misinterpreted to apply to domesticated dogs. We explore this in more detail in this dog behaviour article you can read here and bust that particular myth. So, we can dismiss that theory.
If your dog sleeps on your bed, you might have to wash the duvet cover more often, but you won’t be encouraging bad behaviour in your pooch.
One caveat is that you shouldn't let small children sleep with a dog. A child may not recognise an animal’s warning signals and could be frightened if the dog suddenly barks. Always supervise your dog when small children are around.
3. They'll never go back to their dog bed
This is one of the more persuasive reasons for not letting your dog sleep on your bed. Once they've got a taste for those super soft blankets and comfy mattress, they may be reluctant to leave and go back to their own dog bed.
And that’s a problem if you need the bed to yourself. You might be sick, you might be co-sleeping with a baby, you might just want to spread out and starfish the full width of the bed.
This can also issues with your partner, some owners find that their dog sleeping in their bed can or has actually ruined their relationship.
In those circumstances, you might regret letting your dog get too comfortable on your king size bed.
Establish some house rules
In all of this, the most important consideration is that your dog should fit into your house rules. Whether you want your hound in or out of the bedroom at night, you need to train your dog so they understand what you want them to do.
Dogs respond well to rules and boundaries. Even if you do decide to let your pup sleep in the bedroom or on the bed, give them a clear command that shows they have your permission.
How to train your dog to stay out of the bedroom
Use these dog training tips for any room in the house that you want to keep a dog-free zone...
- Have your dogs favourite treats ready in your pocket.
- Put your dog on the lead and guide them away from the area.
- Walk your dog past the bedroom, keeping moving. When you've walked past the room, reward your dog with a treat.
- Practise a few more times with your dog on the lead.
- Try the same technique, but with your dog off the lead.
- Encourage them to walk past the room and praise and reward them when they do.
If your dog follows you when you're about to walk into the bedroom, tell them to stay and reward them for obeying your command. In the beginning, you might want to install a baby gate or similar barrier to reinforce the message that your bedroom is out of bounds.
How to train your dog to stay off your bed
This can be tricky. Your pooch already knows how luxurious your bed is and they've got a taste for snoozing there whenever they please.
However, there are ways to train your dog not to sleep on your bed. We like the sound of this approach, which seems counter-intuitive at first.
- Sit on your bed.
- Encourage your dog to join you on the bed by patting the bed beside you and saying ‘Up!’.
- Give them a treat when they join you.
- Now give them another command – ‘Down!’ – pointing to the floor, and reward them when they jump off the bed.
- After a while, they will realise that, sadly, the ‘Down!’ command is the only one they ever hear. Incentivise them to sleep in their own bed by accompanying them to their bed and rewarding them with a treat when they get there.
You could also test their response by lying on the bed and seeing if they join you when you haven't given the ‘Up!’ command. If they do jump up, simply give them the ‘Down!’ command and reward them when they jump off the bed.
As with all dog training, consistency is everything. If you occasionally allow your pooch to sleep on the bed, they'll assume the rules don't apply anymore and you're back to square one.
Get your dog a luxurious dog bed
If your dog is getting older and has stiff joints, consider getting them an orthopaedic dog bed. Some of the best have a memory foam mattress that will mould to the shape of your dog’s body, giving them a comfortable night’s rest. A slightly higher bed will make it easy for your pooch to get in and out, and padded walls will give them a place to rest their head.
Does your dog sleep in your bed with you?
We'd love to hear what you think. Is your dog allowed on the bed or strictly banned from the bedroom? Do you have any brilliant tips on how to train your dog to stay off the bed or out of the bedroom? Please head over to our Facebook and Instagram pages and let us know what you think.