Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Should your dog sleep in your bed?

pug in bed

Recently, one of my friends started a Facebook poll to ask how many dog owners let their pets sleep with them at night. I was one of the very rare few who didn't respond with enthusiastic stories of dog co-sleeping. Apparently, I am one of the few people who banishes the dog to the floor when bedtime comes around.

I'll admit that I once allowed both the dog and all of my cats to sleep on the bed with me, and I liked having them nearby. There's something deeply comforting about waking up and being surrounded by little furry creatures who seem to love you. But, I didn't like finding cat hair on my pillows or being kicked in the kidneys by a dreaming dog. My allergist also didn't relish the idea of pet dander entering my nose all night long.

So, the cats are no longer allowed in the bedroom at all, and the dog is confined to a bed on the floor. The results have been part good and part bad.

In the bad category, I've seen no behavior benefits. Many trainers state that allowing a dog to sleep on the floor sets up a clear pack signal, and that the dog will know that you are in charge when you no longer share your bed. In theory, the dog will listen better as a result. I'm no longer sure this is true. Liam is just as rowdy and willful now as he was when he slept with me.

On the good side, my breathing has improved and this may benefit both the dog and me. Being able to breathe makes me a more cheerful, patient dog owner, and this probably makes Liam's life a little easier to bear.

So, I will likely never go back to co-sleeping with the dog. It's yet another way I differentiate myself from my dog-loving peers, and I'm sure my husband is glad to see this transformation take place. Having to share a bed with a wife, a dog and three cats was simply too much for the man to bear for reasons of his own.

To read some really hysterical thoughts on this topic, click here. And if you'd like to provide a human sleeping partner with another reason to kick the dog out of the bed, click here.