Last Updated on February 12, 2024 by Louise Carter
There are many reasons why dogs make good overnight company, especially if you sleep alone. Dogs offer security and protection, while canine body heat is like a hot water bottle on a cold day.
However, the journal Anthrozoös stated that sleeping with dogs can adversely affect sleep quality. This risk is worth taking for people who feel the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
If you already have a dog, your decision about where it sleeps has likely been made. However, you can train a dog out of sleeping on the bed if it’s disturbing you.
Why Is It Bad to Sleep with Your Dog?
Despite the positive aspects of sharing a bed with a dog, this practice also has disadvantages. In many respects, the risks outweigh the benefits.
If you’re wondering why sleeping with your dog is bad, the answer is more complex than blanket statements like “dogs carry fleas,” although this is a concern.
Let’s review why a dog should enjoy its independent place to sleep:
1/ Broken Sleep
Dogs may sleep a lot, but their resting habits differ from those of humans. Your dog will often sleep lightly, remaining alert to potential threats.
That may offer protection and comfort but also be a potential disturbance.
If your dog hears any noise outside, including passing traffic, it may shift position, bark, or otherwise try to alert you, which could happen several times at night.
Even if your dog doesn’t feel the need to warn you of perceived threats, it may grow restless at night.
If your dog decides to jump off the bed and search for water or snacks, it’ll likely wake you up. However, if the dog decides to play with a squeaky toy in your room, you can forget about a good night’s sleep.
2/ Damaging Relationship with a Partner
Not everyone is a dog lover. The wisdom of dating a canine agnostic, if you have dogs, is a debate for another website, but sleeping arrangements can be problematic.
Beyond the simple logistics of a double bed usually being sized according to two adults – not two adults and a dog – the presence of a third party in a bed can inhibit intimacy.
If one partner has an allergy or fear of dogs, this will be magnified at night.
Sleeping with a dog can also disturb sleep. You may be OK with this, but will a partner say the same? A dog on the bed could spark arguments and disagreements among couples.
No matter how much time you spend washing and grooming a dog, it’ll always find a way to get dirty. You may not mind this in your daily life, but consider the impact on your bed linen.
At best, dogs will leave a trail of muddy paw prints on your sheets and pillow. At worst, they could leave urine or feces behind.
Of course, dogs also shed fur. If you have a breed that loses fur quickly, you’ll clean up near-constantly.
Loose fur can be harmful if you, or anybody in your bed, has an allergy. This allergy is triggered by dander, which are dead skin cells that will be left on bed linen by your pet.
According to Current Allergy and Asthma Reports, no evidence supports the claim that ‘exposure therapy’ strengthens the immune system against a dog allergy.
Sleeping surrounded by dander could trigger an allergic reaction overnight.
A popular idiom often attributed to Benjamin Franklin claims that “if you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.” This is true, not to mention roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, mites, and ticks.
None of us like to think about it, but many dogs have parasites.
Even if you’re up to date with treating your pet for parasites, they may still attach to your canine companion. The medication just kills the parasites before they can wreak havoc.
Everywhere your dog goes, they leave traces of parasites behind in their dander and shed fur.
This is no great concern in usual circumstances, as it’s nothing a duster or vacuum won’t pick up. However, you’re up close and personal with these pests in bed.
6/ Zoonotic Diseases
Can sleeping with a dog make you sick? In truth, any interaction with a dog can make you sick, especially if you have a compromised immune system. There’s no such thing as 100% risk-free canine interaction.
Dogs can carry zoonotic diseases, which can be passed from animals to humans. Some diseases are asymptomatic in dogs, so you’ll have no reason to suspect it’s putting you in harm’s way.
Common examples of zoonotic diseases in dogs include:
- Lyme disease.
The immune system is less active while we sleep. Sleeping with a dog is risky.
7/ Risk of Injury
Another common question among new pet owners is, “Will I crush my dog in my sleep?”
It’s certainly a concern. According to Nature and Science of Sleep, we adjust sleep positions 1.6 times per hour. A small dog could be hurt if you roll onto them.
It’s not just your dog that risks injury when you share a bed. Imagine if you surprised your dog by moving toward it at night. The dog will likely react instinctively and defensively with a bite.
8/ Developing Codependency
As pack animals, dogs are rarely comfortable being left alone. As per Veterinary Medicine, many dogs suffer from separation anxiety that manifests as destructive and unwelcome behavior.
Dogs can recover from separation anxiety, but training takes time, effort, and consistency. If your dog sleeps on your bed, it’ll be even more prone to this issue.
This anxiety isn’t a one-way street. What happens if you grow dependent on your dog as part of your sleep routine? Sometimes, you must sleep unaccompanied by your dog, like in a hotel room.
9/ Blurring Dominance Boundaries
Canine experts are unsure how much emphasis should be placed on dominance training. It’s undeniable that some dogs must be reminded that humans are in control.
If you allow a dog to sleep on your bed, it may become dominant and territorial. The dog may refuse you access to your bed at night, considering this an invasion of its territory.
10/ Setting a Precedent
Dogs don’t understand nuance, as they live in a world where something is or isn’t allowed.
You can’t allow a dog to sleep on your bed on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, but not Tuesdays or Thursdays, as you need to get up early the next day.
If your dog sleeps on the bed, it’ll likely expect to be allowed on all other furniture.
Maybe that’s fine for you, but will the same apply to other people in your home? Does everybody in your household feel comfortable with a dog on the sofa beside them?
Also, consider what may happen when you visit friends and family members with your dog in tow.
If you often travel with your dog, teach them to sleep in an assigned bed. This will prevent awkward interactions with people who prefer not to have a dog sleep on their bed.
Training a Dog Out of Sleeping on the Bed
If a dog is used to sleeping on your bed, it can be tough to break the habit.
However, it can be done without ruining your relationship. As with all dog training, it involves patience, persistence, plenty of treats, and a superior alternative to encourage change.
Start by providing your dog with a comfortable bed of its own.
Add blankets that offer a familiar scent and tempt your dog into the bed with treats. Make a fuss of your dog while it’s in bed to form positive associations.
Instruct your dog into the bed, treating and praising it every time it enters.
More importantly, immediately offer praise if the dog takes a nap in its bed without prompting. Soon, the dog will automatically gravitate to this assigned bed.
If your dog isn’t used to being separated from you at bedtime, it may howl and cry. Consider compromising by placing the dog’s bed in your room to meet your pet halfway.
Nobody can tell anybody not to allow a dog to sleep on their bed.
Ensure you know what you’re getting into when setting this precedent. If a dog sleeps on your bed once, it will expect to do so again. You’ll be making a commitment that may impact sleep for many years.