Do you let your dog sleep in your bed? If so, you’re not alone. A survey by the American Pet Products Association found that about half of all puppy parents share a bed with their dogs. Whether you do or don’t, you’ve probably heard conflicting opinions about the subject. Some experts discourage pet owners from inviting their dogs into bed, while others argue that the pros far outweigh the cons. We know—it can be a little confusing. To help clear up the matter, here’s what you need to know about letting your dog sleep in your bed.
There are three primary arguments against sleeping in bed with your dog: Sleep disturbance, allergies/asthma, and behavior issues. The first is not entirely unfounded. In one survey, 53% of pet owners reported their dogs regularly disturb their sleep throughout the night. Which, in the long run, can have negative health effects. You see, dogs are what’s called polyphasic sleepers, meaning they have multiple sleep/wake cycles throughout the day (humans, by contrast, are monophasic sleepers, meaning one sleep cycle each 24 hour period). These extra periods of wakefulness explain why our pups wake us throughout the night. While studies have consistently shown dogs do in fact interfere with our sleep, other studies, including research by the Mayo Clinic, suggests this disturbance is basically negligible.
Allergies and asthma are other common reasons health experts advise against sharing a bed with your dog. It’s not just pet allergies either. Because dogs are often outside, exploring nature and brushing against all sorts of plant life, they can be a serious source of allergens. The Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America advises allergy sufferers keep dogs, not just out of their beds, but out of their bedrooms entirely. When it comes to allergies/asthma, the issue seems pretty cut and dry: if you have them, it’s probably not a good idea to share a bed with your dog.
Behavior concerns are the last common argument against co-sleeping with canines. While there’s little to no definitive evidence either way, the argument goes that co-sleeping can aggravate dominance and territorial issues, sometimes leading to aggression or even separation anxiety. But it’s hard to know which comes first: the anxiety or the sharing of the bed. Is the dog anxious because they’re sharing our bed, or are we sharing our bed because they tended to be a little anxious in the first place? This isn’t a problem for many pet parents, but if your dog shows aggression towards you or your partner—like growling when they try to come to bed—it might be time to reevaluate your sleeping arrangements.
You’ve heard the drawbacks, but what about the positives of sleeping with your pup? Turns out, there are plenty. For one, spending time with dogs naturally increases oxytocin levels in our bodies, a hormone that encourages feelings of contentment and happiness, which might actually improve sleep quality. A dog’s rhythmic breathing, too, is said to regulate and slow the human heart rate, which can be conducive to better sleep. Also, some of us just feel safer when sleeping with our dogs, and you can’t put a price on that kind of security. On a strictly subjective level, sleeping with dogs can be a big mood boost, strengthening the bond with our pups and making them feel happier in the process, too. Not to mention, the snugly comfort and physical warmth that comes with having your dog right next to you in bed is awesome.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, it’s up to you. Now that you’re more informed, weigh the evidence and make the call yourself. If the pros clearly outweigh the cons or vice-versa, then there’s your answer. If you’re currently sleeping with your dog, and don't suffer from allergies, have a compromised immune system, or experience behavior or sleep issues, then there’s probably no reason to change things up. Overall though, I think most of us who share beds with our puppers know the goods almost always outweigh the bads, even if we get woken up a few times throughout the night.