Is It OK To Let My Dog Sleep With Me?

Many dog owners allow their dogs to sleep in their bedrooms, on a dog bed on the floor or in a crate. But there are also plenty of owners who let their dogs sleep in the bed with them. 

There seem to be two camps: those who would never think of allowing their dog in their bed and those who can’t imagine not having their canine companion join them at night. What are the pros and cons of letting your dog sleep with you?

Humans sleeping with their dogs is not a modern practice, as people have been sleeping with their dogs for centuries. In some traditional cultures, such as that of nomadic indigenous Australians, who kept their camp dogs close by at night for warmth and protection. 

Today, almost half of dog owners report allowing their dogs into their beds at night to sleep with them. While there can be potential problems in letting your dog sleep with you, these seem relatively minor. 

If you have allergies, these might be aggravated by letting your dog sleep with you, as they can bring in pollen and other irritants on their coats. Also, there is a very small risk of the transmission of disease from dog to human, but this is very slight and is rarely reported. One very real problem is that your sleep may get disrupted. Dogs are polyphasic sleepers, meaning that they exhibit more sleep/wake cycles than we do and also they are lighter sleepers, as they stay alert for noises or other disturbances. 

One other downside, is that non dog owners, especially if they are friends or extended family members, may have an unfounded bias against sleeping with dogs and will tell you in no uncertain terms that dogs belong on the floor or outside and certainly not in your bed!

But there are definite benefits, both for you and for your dog, with co-sleeping, as long as your dog is well behaved. These benefits include strengthening the bond between you and your dog, decreasing feelings of anxiety and increasing feelings of comfort, security and safety. Plus, there’s nothing like a toasty dog to warm up a cold bed. What’s not to love!

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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