Pets in the Bed
Having owned Great Danes for most of my married life, the thought of having a dog sleeping in my bed never occurred to me. Early on, our Danes learned that furniture was off limits and that they weren’t lap dogs no matter how much they tried to be. Then ten years ago, my little Cairn terrier became our only pet child. While recovering from surgery while she was just a puppy, my husband put her in the bed with me so I wouldn’t have to lift her and would have some company during recovery. That proved to be the end of her sleeping in her own bed for several years and, the end of a comfortable full night sleep for me.
My own personal experience mirrors many articles I have read recently. In fact, a recent report says 56% of dog and cat owners claim that their pets routinely sleeps right next to them, 18 % say their pet sleeps at the foot of the bed, and 21 % sleep in a pet bed in the bedroom. Many people love cuddling up with a warm, furry friend at bedtime but they also find that sharing that space with their pet can disrupt much-needed rest. Otolaryngologist and sleep expert Craig Schwimmer acknowledges that there are upsides but he says there are also downsides. A pet’s toilet habits may interfere with sleep needs; dander and dirt on the pet could exacerbate allergy symptoms, snoring or restlessness can interrupt your sleep, and a human partner might not be so happy about a crowded bed. Pet behaviorists also caution about dominant behavior. No, your normally submissive dog will not suddenly turn into a dominant monster if you let him wiggle onto the bed at night. Nor will you be raising your young puppy up to be more aggressive. It is true, however, that allowing your dog a position of authority can exacerbate an already existing dominance or aggression problem. Your dog should never be led to believe that she has a right to your bed. As a pack animal, she understands that claiming the obvious position of power atop the leader's bed will make her your household's
dominant member. Training anecdotes abound in which the family dog wages a war each morning when the owner attempts to make the bed. We have actually had clients who were held hostage each night as their dog growled every time they moved.
Children and teenagers who are close to their dogs often disregard their parents' wishes to keep the dog off the bed. When controlling child and dog become too much like nagging, many parents apply the "don't ask, don't tell" method and turn their heads by allowing them to share a bed. This is never a good idea: sooner or later, the child grows up – decides he or she doesn't really want a doggy sleeping partner – and the nightly dominance dramas begin.
Two years ago, my Cairn, Kelsy, began wetting the bed. After several nights of having to change the sheets in the middle of the night, my husband and I decided that it was time for her to be moved off of our bed for good. Like a baby, it only took a few nights to get her acclimated to being in her own bed (a very comfy one I might add) and together with “pee pee” pads to keep her dry, everyone got a good night sleep. She was later diagnosed with Diabetes and her wetting was brought under control, but we stayed firm and did not bring her back into the bed. I was amazed at how much better I began sleeping and Kelsy enjoys her occasional mid day naps on our bed on the weekends.
Are you a parent that has children, a spouse, and a couple pets sharing your bed? How is your sleep these days? Maybe this is a good time to question whether the pets really need to be there.