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

We treat location guarding and guarding of people basically the same way we treat food and toy guarding. An essential component of any behavior modification program is to prevent continued rehearsals of the problem behavior. That means no off-the-cuff bed visits for Zippy; he’s allowed on only when you’re doing controlled practice to defuse his guarding. Get professional help for this, please.

Dogs who snap or bite when touched come in a couple of flavors, as well. Some dogs have very strong, fast startle responses, especially if they’re awakened from a sound sleep. My dog, Juniper, sleeps on a comfy bed in his crate because he jumps up and barks if one of our cats brushes against him in his sleep. (Besides, he’s huge.) I almost hesitate to call a startled response “aggression” if the dog stops as soon as she’s fully awake, but however we label it, it can be dangerous.

Other dogs aggress when touched, whether or not you happen to be startling them. Well-accepted behavior modification protocols can help with this problem, but you can’t do behavior modification in your sleep. Also, as I mentioned in connection with bed guarding, it’s important to avoid further rehearsals of the aggression – the more your dog practices it, the more entrenched it will become.

7. If Your Dog Is Pushy

A common manners problem among dogs is that of demanding attention, demanding a scratch, demanding play – you get the picture. It’s reasonable for dogs to want our attention and our affection, and dogs certainly do get bored and need to burn off steam. However, for us to enjoy living together, our dogs need to make their requests politely – for example, by sitting – and to accept no for an answer. While you’re teaching a rude dog pleasant manners, it may be appropriate to keep him out of bed. Or you may insist that he get your okay to join you, not just jump in as of right.

I fear I’ve made it sound as though there are a bajillion reasons to keep your dog off the bed! So let me reiterate the point I made at the start of this article: If you want to share your bed with your dog, and everybody’s happy, then be my guest. Come to think of it, my guest bed will fit two people and a small dog. Or one large person and one large dog. Or one large person, one small person, and a medium-size dog …

You can follow The Dog Trainer on Twitter, where I’m Dogalini. I’m The Dog Trainer on Facebook, and you can also write to me at dogtrainer@quickanddirtytips.com. Though I can’t usually reply individually, I welcome your comments and suggestions, and I may use them as the basis for future articles.

Dog in Bed image from Shutterstock


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).

The Quick and Dirty Tips Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices.