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Is sleeping with your dog really a bad thing?

Updated: Jan 12

Is sleeping with your dog really a bad thing? We don't think so. Sleeping with your dog can have positive effects on your health. It can help reduce stress and anxiety, provide a sense of security and comfort, and even improve your sleep quality. It can also create a deeper bond between you and your pet, as the dog is likely to become more loyal and protective of you. Additionally, sleeping with your dog can be beneficial for their overall health and well-being, as it can help regulate their body temperature and provide a sense of companionship.

Family with their dog snuggling on the sofa.
Our dogs are our family!

Some trainers suggest that you should not provide furniture access to your dog, but I believe it depends on the client and the dog. If your dog resource guards the furniture, it's best to avoid furniture access as this could be a liability. In such cases, you need to work on setting boundaries and claiming your space back. You can introduce proper couch etiquette later in training, but it's best to take a few months to reinforce that the couch doesn't belong to the dog.

Couch time and bedtime snuggles can be a great way to build a bond with your dog. Studies have shown that sleeping with your dog has many benefits, which I will discuss later. I allow my dogs to access furniture, but I teach them a strong off cue. This is important because there will be times when being on the couch is not ideal, such as when you have guests over or when you're snacking.

When my dogs are on the couch, I prefer they relax and not misbehave. If they start doing zoomies, it's probably not the right time for cuddles. In such cases, I reinforce the off cue and redirect my dogs to their bed to calm them down. Once they're calm, I invite them back up for a good cuddle session. For some dogs, I prefer to make couch time invite-only. When my dogs come up to the couch and rest their head on the cushion, it signals to me that they want to cuddle.

a contemporary bedroom

So, is sleeping with your dog really a bad thing?

There are both advantages and disadvantages to allowing your dog to sleep in your bed. If you have a puppy, it is not recommended to let them sleep with you until they are at least six months old, fully potty trained, and well-behaved. Giving them freedom at night can be dangerous if they are not yet ready for it. During this time, crate training is a better option. It helps train your dog to remain calm in their crate, aids in potty training, and prevents separation anxiety in the long term.

Dogs that sleep with their owners have a greater chance of developing separation anxiety, especially if you take them to work or work from home, providing little opportunity for them to learn independence. Although separation anxiety is normal for pack animals, intense separation anxiety can affect your dog's mental health and confidence. So, if you are dealing with this issue, it is not advisable to let them sleep with you immediately.

Despite the debate surrounding this topic, studies have shown that sleeping with your pet can be beneficial for both you and your dog. The warmth, steady heartbeat, and protective nature of your pet can make co-sleeping feel safe and comfortable.

1: Reduces Depression in the Human

The advantages of sleeping with your dog include reducing depression. A recent study found that interacting with dogs can reduce depressive symptoms in humans. If merely interacting with these amazing creatures can help treat depression, imagine how sleeping with one can do! Your dog's presence can help you feel relaxed and increase your flow of oxytocin, the love chemical, essentially making them a living antidepressant!

2: Promotes Theta Brain Waves

Sleeping with your dog not only increases the flow of oxytocin but also has a profound impact on the quality of our sleep. The experience of sleeping with your dog promotes theta brainwaves, which are known to occur during the REM stage of sleep. Studies have shown that when dogs are with their owners, their heartbeats actually sync up, further proving the calming effects our dogs provide to the human brain.

3: Increases Sense of Security

Feeling safe plays a huge part in how well we sleep. A recent study showed that having their dogs sleep with them impacted women's sleep quality positively, making them feel more safe, secure and comfortable. Dogs have a natural instinct to protect, and they will let you know if anything is amiss while you sleep. However, this can be problematic for overly protective or sensitive dogs, and if your dog wakes you up 5+ times every night, this may not aid in getting better sleep.

4: Can Help Aid in Insomnia

Those who suffer from insomnia know just how awful it is to lie awake at night unable to sleep. The good news is that anxiety-induced insomnia can be eased by having your dog in bed with you. Studies have shown that sleeping with your dog relieves insomnia by mitigating anxiety, and modifying hyperarousal, and hypervigilance, which help create a better mood and environment for good sleep.

A grumpy cat sitting on a table
I'm not complaining... I'm educating. -The cat

We strongly believe that sleeping with your dog can be a great thing, but can it ever be a bad thing? While it can be comforting and beneficial for both humans and dogs, there are some potential risks associated with sleeping with a dog.

Dogs can emit allergens that can irritate people with allergies, and they can also become territorial and possessive, which can lead to aggression. Another concern is that dogs can cause physical harm unintentionally if they jump on people while they are sleeping. Furthermore, dogs that restless or snore heavily can disrupt sleep, leading to fatigue and irritability. Lastly, sleeping with a dog may increase the risk of pet dander and bacteria spreading throughout the house, which can be problematic for individuals with compromised immune systems.

It is highly recommended that you avoid letting your dog sleep alongside a baby or small child. This is due to the potential risk of suffocation or accidental injury. Dogs may also become aggressive if they feel threatened or cornered, which could result in bites or other injuries. To ensure the well-being of both yourself and your beloved pet, it is advisable to schedule consultations with both your doctor and veterinarian prior to sleeping together. This will allow you to take necessary measures to maintain good health for both parties. Finally, be sure to keep your dog's vaccinations up-to-date and monitor their overall health regularly.

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