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Unless you have a new puppy or a new rescue dog, the question of where your dog should sleep was probably settled a long time ago!
However, if the decision has still not been finalised or if you’re still wondering where your dog or puppy should sleep, read on.
I would also appreciate your thoughts on the subject in the Comments below so we can compare notes and help others.
Where DO dogs sleep?
It’s often not a question of where should your dog sleep but where does your dog WANT to sleep. That’s not to suggest that you have no say in the matter but there are several scenarios which can have an impact on the decision.
Should your dog sleep on your bed?
This is the B-I-G question, isn’t it?
When people think about where a dog should sleep they often, even if subconsciously, wonder if they should sleep in the bedroom. Or even on the bed. Or, in some cases, IN the bed.
So let’s answer that first.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with allowing your dog to sleep with you in the bedroom or on the bed as long as all the bed inhabitants – you, your partner and your dog – are happy.
Some people let their dog IN the bed and if everyone’s fine with that, that’s okay, too, although your bed will get hairier and smellier fairly quickly.
My dogs could sleep on the bed but not in it. And none ever tried to burrow beneath the covers.
There are a few things you ought to be aware of if you share your bed with your dog which we’ll get to in a moment but first let’s see what sleep your dog or puppy actually needs.
How much sleep do dogs need?
Dogs typically sleep around 12 hours a day, maybe an hour or two more. Some breeds, especially larger ones, can sleep much longer.
Puppies need more sleep than adult dogs, typically around 18 hours per day.
The amount of sleep a dog needs varies by breed but also by dog. Just like humans, all dogs are individuals and may need more or less than average and that’s fine.
It might seem counter-intuitive but the more active the dog, the less sleep they usually need. Working dogs such as police dogs sleep less than other dogs of their breed.
You’ve heard of a cat nap. Perhaps they should be called dog naps because dogs typically spend a lot of the daytime hours asleep or napping.
According to The Dog Bible, half a dog’s sleeping is done during the day and around a third of the day is spent resting.
This should be good news for owners who have to leave their dog during the day as, with a bit of luck and a following wind, your dog will settle into a sleep/rest routine until you get home so you won’t need to know How to stop your dog from chewing his bed 🙂
Most dogs, however, modify their sleep pattern to match yours so it’s likely they will sleep or at least rest, while you are in bed.
If you want to know more about dogs and their sleeping habits, there’s a super infographic a little way down the page here called Let sleeping dogs lie.
How puppies sleep
As well as needing more sleep, puppies want to sleep more often than an adult dog. They might play and run around for a few minutes and then want to sleep so it’s important that they have a safe and comfortable bed.
Another important consideration with a new puppy – and even an older rescue dog – is that they need time to become familiar and comfortable with you, your family and your house. They probably need reassurance so it’s important to spend as much time with them as you can during their early days.
New people and places can be stressful
When a puppy or rescue dog goes to a new, strange house with strange people, they can react in different ways. We won’t go into details here, only to say that they may feel anxious or stressed so you need to do all you can to reassure them, feed them, play with them and so on.
Hopefully this will quickly familiarise them with you and their new surroundings.
Avoiding nighttime anxiety
When it comes to nighttime, if they are left alone, they may again become stressed or anxious. Many dog owners will remember nights of howling, barking or crying, when their puppy was ‘put to bed’ and their owners disappeared to another room.
Allowing your puppy to sleep in your bedroom can prevent the stress of separation. It can also be helpful when your puppy is being house-trained as if they want to go out at night you are moiré likely to hear them if you’re in the same room.
It is not generally recommended that you allow them ON the bed until they are fully house-trained for obvious reasons.
Raising a puppy is a 24/7 job for a good few months – but it’s worth it.
What kind of dog bed?
When your puppy goes to bed, it should have a ‘proper’ bed that he or she knows is theirs.
I have always used a circular foam-covered bed with a raised back and a circular mat which fits inside. They were comfortable, the raised section kept the dog draught-free and gave them something to snuggle against, and the beds were relatively easy to clean and wash.
Some people simply use a blanket or something like a bean bag and many dogs drag their ‘bed’ around if they want to sleep in a different place.
There are beds in the shape of sofas, raised bed, pads, wicker beds and large cushions. There are also chew-proof beds if your dog turns out to be a bit of a tearaway but do read How to stop a dog from chewing his bed before you resort to that.
The point is, your dog will know that their bed is theirs and is for resting and sleeping.
Early days – and nights – with Murphy
Murphy was a rescue dog and we had no idea if he was house-trained or not.
He was sort of half house-trained.
Which means that he initially went just about everywhere – behind the sofa, in the kitchen – not on the newspaper we’d put there for him! – and in the dining room.
Murphy’s house training
If we caught him in about to squat or lift his leg we’d encourage him outside.
And after a few false starts, he’d go, and quite happily. So we think he’d been house-trained at least a little bit but we’d no idea how long ago or how long he’d been abandoned for.
We think he just didn’t know where to go in this strange house. He quickly learned to bark – just once – if he wanted to go out.
In the early days we put Murphy’s bed in the bedroom with the door closed. I could reach out and stroke him to reassure him and if he wanted to go out I’d hear him and let him out. He’d usually just paw at the door rather than bark although he did bark sometimes.
This led to a few very sleepless nights but he soon settled.
Once he got the hang of things, we moved his bed to the kitchen. However, we always let him have the run of the house so he decided where he wanted to sleep.
Murphy’s sleeping habits
During the day he usually slept in his bed in the kitchen. He sometimes slept there at night, too, especially if we were late going to bed.
Sometimes we’d hear him come upstairs and flop on the bedroom floor. Other times he’d be in the bedroom and we’d hear him padding downstairs to sleep in the kitchen.
He also had a favourite chair he liked to sleep in and we’d put a throw on it to keep it as hair-free as possible.
He occasionally climbed onto the bed during the night. I know some people manage to fit themselves and several dogs onto a bed. We managed it sometimes but if space was a little tight he’d jump off and lie on the floor or go downstairs.
That didn’t stop him sleeping on the bed when we weren’t in it.
In short – Murphy slept wherever he wanted and we were all happy with that.
Where should house-trained dogs sleep?
I think there’s much to be said for keeping your puppy in the bedroom during house training for the reasons mentioned above. Obviously put newspaper on the floor to catch ‘accidents’.
As your dog becomes house-trained you might want to see if he or she prefers to sleep somewhere else. In any event, it’s a good idea to put their bed somewhere comfortable and relatively quiet so they can sleep and rest when they want to.
A movable dog bed
If you’re happy for your dog to sleep in the bedroom but they prefer to be near you during the day in the kitchen or living room, you might consider getting two beds. Or, if the bed is not large, you could move it at nighttime.
If you don’t want your dog in the bedroom, obviously put the bed where you do want them to sleep. If they sleep there during the day, you can encourage them to go there at nighttime, too.
Most dogs like to sleep in a corner or an area that’s enclosed so they feel safe and protected so that’s good to consider when looking for a place for their bed.
Wherever it is, it should be warm and comfortable and free of draughts.
Where does your dog want to sleep?
After a while you may find your dog moves to another place in the house and lies down. Some dogs may take or try to take their bed with them. Others are content to lie on the floor.
They may do this for several reasons:
- They may want to be nearer to their owner – or possibly further away for peace and quiet.
- The place they choose may be cooler or warmer than where their bed is.
- They might just like to move around for variety. At various times Murphy could be found dozing in one of half a dozen places. That includes an armchair, our bed, his bed and several places on the floor.
For the most part, if your dog sleeps in their bed during the day or night and you see them sleeping elsewhere at other times, don’t assume they aren’t happy with their bed.
If they don’t sleep in their bed much but somewhere else in the house, you might assume that they would prefer to sleep there.
Is sleeping with your dog healthy?
This is another BIG QUESTION and often an argument used by people who refuse to let their dog in the bedroom. It is also a concern among people who would like to sleep with their dog but don’t.
Various sensationalist articles have appeared from time to time in the press and online claiming that sleeping with your dog can make you ill or transmit a disease.
Let’s be honest – yes, this is possible.
However, it’s extremely rare. I have not been able to determine just how rare – or common! – this is. Most veterinary reports simply say that it’s rare, and some vets add that they have never encountered any such cases.
Likewise, those claiming that such health risks exist have never provided any statistics to back up their claim.
I’ve looked into this as much as the web allows and have found no statistics at all.
Almost half of all dog owners sleep with their dog
Given that almost a half of dog owners sleep with their dogs, my personal view is that the health risks are infinitesimal compared to the benefits – and they’re coming right up.
Every activity carries some risk. I’d venture to suggest that it’s far more dangerous to travel in a car than it is to sleep with your dog!
Even walking down the street carries a risk.
If you are at all concerned then, of course, don’t do it.
But you can minimise any possible risk by…
Sleeping with a clean dog
No one wants to sleep with a smelly, unkempt being – human or dog!
It should go without saying but you yourself will be healthier and freer of health problems if you are hygienic and clean.
Same with your dog. If they are cleaned and groomed regularly this will minimise any possible infection from external sources. This tells you all about Cleaning a dog.
Practise good dog hygiene
Wash or at least wet-cloth clean your dog’s feet after they’ve been out.
Make sure they are brushed and groomed, especially if they are moulting.
Clean their eyes and wipe their nose and slaver if they are snuffling (this will apply more to some breeds than others).
In other words, use some common sense and practise good dog hygiene.
And although this is not a great place to mention it, DO ensure your dog is wormed regularly and has all relevant vaccinations.
You should be doing this in any event, simply to ensure the health of your dog.
Can sleeping with your dog cause behavioural problems?
This is yet another question that divides opinion.
Some claim that allowing your dog to share your bed can make it think it is your equal – or superior! – in the pack and cause dominance issues.
There are several possible scenarios which can come from a dog sharing a bed with a human. One is if a single person finds a partner and the dog doesn’t allow them in the bed. I think some comedy movies have included such scenes.
I never had any such problems. None of my dogs were bothered about how many people – or dogs! – were on the bed. It was a struggle getting two people and a Bernese Mountain Dog onto a single bed but if space was really tight, Monty would simply get off and lie on the floor.
There’s an excellent, albeit old, article in the Telegraph about this which asks, Should we let our dogs sleep in the bed?
No research has been done, as far as I know, on this situation. If the dog ‘guards’ their bed – i.e. your bed – the chances are it has other guarding and possession issues which are there regardless of your sleeping arrangements.
Another situation could occur if the person the dog was sleeping with moves out. The dog may then think it is entitled to the bed and resist anyone else sleeping in it.
I never had any dominance issues with my dogs after letting them sleep on the bed. All would simply get off if it was too crowded.
Wesley had a different type of problem, not caused by sleeping on my bed. In fact, he wouldn’t even sleep in my bedroom. If I brought him in at night, which I tried doing on several occasions, he would soon get up and trot off back his own bed.
As eve, the solution is good training which starts when the dog is a puppy. Or, in the case of a rescue dog or an adult dog, boundaries should be set initially and training needs to begin on first acquaintance.
Just because an older dog is house-trained, doesn’t mean it is trained in other aspects of household behaviour.
If your dog has behavioural problems, do seek professional help.
Sleeping in the dog’s bed
A dog should have a safe and comfortable place to retire to when it wants peace and quiet. However, like its toys and even its food, nothing should be inviolably theirs.
You should be able to take anything away from your dog including its bed! Now I never tried to take away any of my dogs’ beds – and I never would – but, looking back, I realise I did, perhaps, an equivalent thing and that was to lie in their bed with them.
This wasn’t actually a training idea, it was just to cuddle the dog! 🙂 None of them resented it or grumbled (not even Wesley). However, if they think the bed or the space is theirs, some dogs might.
So if you are concerned about possible behaviour problems this is something you could try. Again, start early and do it when they’re a puppy.
Treat each dog as an individual
While many behavioural problems can be raced to a lack of, or poor and inconsistent, training we should not forget that dogs are individuals, too.
In my opinion, and that of a growing number of dog behaviourists, dogs need to be treated on a dog-by-dog basis. You cannot assume that even the friendliest of breeds is going to be totally compliant automatically.
Likewise, a dog of a so-called aggressive breed may be the gentlest of all. I know a local Staffie who is the friendliest of dogs. He mingles with strangers all day and is happy to receive their pats and strokes and attention.
The benefits of sleeping with your dog
If you already sleep with your dog you’ll know many of the benefits. You just need ask yourself why you do it:
- Because they are cuddly and snugly and are great to curl up with at night. End of!
- It can release Oxytocin, the love hormone, and increase the bond between you and your dog.
- Dogs can also provide a sense of security and decrease feelings of anxiety, especially if you live alone. Many dogs will also be alert to strange noises in the night which can be reassuring.
- And they can keep you warm on chilly nights, especially if they are on the bottom of the bed and you can sneak your feet under them.
Finally, what better alarm clock is there than a snuffling nose or a thumping, waggy tail? Although you might also want to put on your alarm in case your dog is just too cosy to want to get up! 🙂
The benefits have been proven
There has been done some research into A Multispecies Approach to Co-Sleeping.
The title may sound off-putting, suggesting sleeping with an alien (thanks to movies with the word ‘Species’ in their title) but it concentrates on human and dog sleeping arrangements reporting on the benefits and drawbacks of humans sleeping with dogs.
And there are many benefits.
The downsides of sleeping with your dog
Very few things in life come with only positives. Here are some of the negative aspect of sleeping with your dog:
- Dogs don’t have the same sleep pattern as we do so you are more likely to be disturbed during the night as your dog moves from awake to sleep and back.
- Dogs may snore and dream and move their legs as if running, so also disturbing your sleep.
- Dogs can be flatulent!
- You might wake up almost squeezed out of the bed due to your dog shuffling their position. (This can happen with human partners, too.)
- The bed will get hairy.
What if my dog doesn’t want to sleep on my bed?
You want to hug your dog but your dog doesn’t want to be hugged. Some dogs are just not huggy dogs.
You can try to encourage them onto the bed but if they don’t want to sleep on your bed, you really can’t make them. Some dogs just prefer to be on their own when sleeping. It doesn’t mean they don’t love you.
Wesley didn’t want t sleep in my bedroom.
Where should my dog sleep at night? – Summary
Around half of all dog owners sleep with their dog so whatever you read here is unlikely to change that.
If you don’t want your dog on your bed or even in your bedroom, that’s fine (although you may be missing the benefits) but if you do and have been wondering if it’s okay, hopefully this article will have given you an answer.
The bottom line good news is that, yes, it’s fine if you sleep with your dog and you may well be a happier because of it.
I hope you found this article interesting and useful.
If you have any questions about where your dog should sleep, please leave a message in the Comments below.
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