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Pets in the Bed

Pets in the Bed

by Dr. Carla Case-... on Mon, 06/07/2010 - 1:34pm

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.

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Pets in the bed

So glad to hear you and Buddy are both getting a good night's sleep.  I am happy to report that it has been three months since my "grandpuppies" were moved out of the bed and the whole family is adjusting well.  Keep up the good work and for all those who are debating... go for it!

Lisa

Buddy's new bed

I used to have my dog Buddy sleep with me, but then I realized it was just too much of a burden on my sleeping habits. Thus I got Buddy his own little luxury pet bed, and I think we're both much happier for it!

Dogs in the Bed

Amanda,

You and Rupert are guests in your parent's home and yet Rupert is acting like "top dog".  Taking the family dynamics aside, it does not make for a comfortable existance to have Rupert being aggressive with Wilson to the point of causing him physical harm.  I would advice discussing all of the issues with a dog trainer or at least reviewing some of the articles by Dr. Roland Tripp with Animal Behavior Network.  There are several good trainers here in town who will come to your home and be able observe the situation as a whole.  Doing your homework now will truly make your relationship with Rupert a better one.  It sounds like the bed dominance is a small portion of some of the behaviors that Rupert is projecting.  Good luck! 

I currently have a cat which

I currently have a cat which sleeps around my neck or on my tummy. She is so cute and cuddly. Before I had a dog too and she used to sleep at the foot of the bed. When I first started taking care of pets I was reluctant to let them sleep in my bed because of the possibility that they carry some bugs or other nasty things. That was mostly due to a small kitty which I adopted and watched it threw up a bunch of worms about 30 minutes after I took it home. Now I got over this fear but I do have my cat on pet insurance and take it to the vet quite often.

Same scenario as Jennifer

I grew up with dogs at my parents house.  We had a miniature schnauzer for almost 13 years (Butler), a great dane for about a year (Sadie), and now have a golden retriever (Wilson).  We also have a cat (Baby).

While I was away at college, I adopted a Cocker Spaniel, Rupert.  I was engaged at the time and my ex-fiance and I had a Rottweiller mix (Clay) for about 3 years before adopting Rupert.  Needless to say, when I brought him home, he slept with us in the bed.  He was just a puppy and I worked at a vet and just loved having him near me!  Yet, that didn't last long because Clay didn't sleep in the bed and Rupert quickly learned and wanted to sleep next to Clay.

After my fiance and I broke up, I moved back home and brought Rupert with me.  Clay stayed with him.  It may sound crazy, but I honestly think Rupert suffered a bit of seperation anxiety from not being around Clay anymore.  It took him quite a while to warm up the my parent's retriever, Wilson.  He was hostile and growled and even bit him once, sending him to emergency vet for stitches. 

Now, I had previously read that cocker's have the tendency to get aggressive and are very possesive of their owners, so I wasn't exactly shocked at his reaction to change and towards other animals.  I tried to handle it the best way I knew how.. being very cautious when he met new dogs and people, keeping him in my room at night (away from Wilson), seperating them during the day so that nothing would happen, not letting him get between me and other animals/people, etc.

To get to the point of the article, I have a big bed and he was sleeping in my room with me and before I knew it, he was ALL ABOUT being on the bed whenever he could.  He still does this.  When Wilson tries to come in my room, if Rupert is on the bed, he immediately shows his teeth, growls, shakes, and gets REALLY close to me... almost like he's protecting me. However, if Wilson walks in the room and Rupert is on the ground, he doesn't mind the presence at all.

The two dogs are friends and love to play in the backyard together, but the bed dominance is definitely there.  I've tried a few times to break him of his habit, but he gets up in the middle of the night and I don't feel him so I don't see him until the morning.

Any suggestions?

Pets sleeping in the bed

Jennifer,

Thanks for the comment.  It is always interesting to hear from readers.  My son and his wife are in the same boat and it is amazing how well the dogs do when I keep them for a week or two.  They go right to their nice "doggy" beds and I get a good night sleep.  If you take the plunge to make the change, let me know how it works out.  Be prepared for two or three nights of unrest and maybe some whining but they usually settle in to the routine pretty quickly.

Lisa

Great post!

Great, interesting post. As a doggie mommy, I deal with this every night. It started when she was a puppy, eight weeks, and I was so excited about having her that I let her lay with me. My boyfriend still to this day hates when Lucca lays in bed with us. She must always take up my side of the bed.

Her sleeping habit is start in the bed, usually curled up around my knees and then at some point, she'll get on the floor because, I take it, she wants to stretch out. But at some point she comes and gets back up in the bed, usually right next to me.

So, it's kind of her choice where she can sleep - but I guess that doesn't help the dominance factor huh. Well something for me to really think about.

Thanks so much for the post. I really enjoy your blog.