Where Should Your Dog Sleep?

Is it okay for your dog to sleep in bed with you? What if your dog growls or snaps at you in bed?

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
5-minute read
Episode #142
Dog in bed

Some clients tell me, with pride, that they never allow their dog on the bed. Some clients tell me, with embarrassment, that their dog sleeps next to them. Some clients tell me, laughing nervously, that when they get into bed with their dog, the dog growls at their approaching spouse. Where does your dog sleep? And where should she sleep?

First, the short answer. If everybody who uses the bed is comfortable and safe, I have no problem just because one (or more) of you happens to be a dog. Letting Dogalini share the bed with you will not make her “dominant” or create behavior problems that don’t already exist. It will make your bed hairy and smelly, but if that doesn’t bother you then it doesn’t bother me.

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And now, 7 instances when your dog shouldn’t share your bed, or at least not share it automatically:

1. During housetraining
2. Before you know how big your dog is going to be
3. If your dog doesn't want to sleep in the bed
4. If your dog snores or is flatulent or incontinent
5. Because you don't feel like it
6. If your dog behaves aggressively
7. If your dog is pushy

1. During Housetraining

Confinement between toilet outings makes housetraining much more efficient. A big puppy can get off the bed and go pee and poop in a corner overnight; a very tiny puppy may find that the end of the bed is far enough from her sleeping spot to make a nice toilet. A puppy in an appropriately sized crate will hold it but whine or scratch to let you know she needs a break. Get up and take her out, then put her back to bed. In her crate.

2. Before You Have Some Idea How Big He’s Going to Be

A 40-pound dog who sleeps curled up in a ball will probably fit tidily in a bed with two small or medium-size people. Not so much an 80-pounder who sprawls. If you adopt a mixed-breed puppy, you might want to hold off on the co-sleeping till you have some idea of whether letting him in the bed will leave any room in it for you. It’s harder to teach a dog to stay off a bed he’s used to sleeping on than to teach him to stick to his own comfy bed in the first place.


About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).

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