Watching dogs sleep – limbs jammed, eyebrows twitched, paws paddling in a dreamland hunt – is one of the joys of living with them. Another reason is the comfort of sharing our beds with them. Whether for emotional comfort, warmth (you’ve heard the phrase “three-dog night”, haven’t you?) Or because the bed is your focal point, many of us sleep with our dogs. Although it makes us happy, we occasionally wonder if we should actually be doing this.
One concern concerns old-fashioned notions of dominance. For many years we were told that allowing our dogs to lie on the bed with us would interfere with our attempts to dominate them, which was supposedly essential for a well trained dog. While shame about sleeping with dogs is far less common than it was a decade or two ago, many of us still fear being judged by the nightly canine company we lead. (I’ve always enjoyed telling customers, “My dog is sleeping on my bed!” And seeing their relief.)
Whether it’s wrong to sleep with your dogs is just one of many questions I ask regularly. Thanks to the growing scientific interest in dog sleep, it is possible to provide well-founded answers. Below are some things we know about dogs and sleep.
Should you or shouldn’t you let dogs sleep with you?
Dogs love to be around us, and sharing a bed makes most dogs and people feel safe, cozy, loved, and warm (until the dog steals the blanket!). The added security of being around their people also reduces the stress some dogs feel in response to noise, whether it’s the sound of a car or a violent thunderstorm. Proximity can also alert us to other problems our dogs may have.