I know what you’re saying…”How can you be a DogMom and not let your dogs sleep with you? They are your children!” Trust me, I used to be the same way. During many years from the teens through my 20’s, all of my dogs were welcomed and encouraged to sleep with me in the bed. It’s a family-thing and it gave me company, safety and comfort during my single-woman years.
Then DogDad came into the picture and had a conflicting request – NO dogs in the bed. Like – ever again.
I was devastated and we bumped heads on this. My heart was broken that I couldn’t cuddle with my babies anymore. I felt like a huge part of my life was taken from me! And if you thought I was hurting, seeing Reuben sitting beside the bed, staring at me with sad puppy eyes and a complete confused look made it terribly worse.
But after a few weeks at this, I started to notice something. I was getting the best sleep I’ve ever had. I wasn’t waking up with the sniffles anymore. My clean sheets, sleeping clothes and hair wasn’t covered in dog hair. My relationship with my husband was stronger than ever. There wasn’t that weird situation with kicking the dog out during intimate moments anymore. The bedroom didn’t smell like….dog. And my dogs didn’t hate me for it either.
What’s Wrong with Dogs in the Bed?
You Are No Longer a Pack Leader
If your dogs are on the bed whenever they feel like, then this is their territory and they happen to allow you to be on it. They own that sleeping space. Ever notice how you get up to do something or go to the bathroom, and when you come back, your dog is laying in the same spot you were in? That’s their spot now.
Suddenly you are not the pack leader, you are a peer. Ever had a dog growl at you or another dog while on the bed, or while they are sleeping? It’s not adorable, it’s dominance and it sets up for more behavior problems around the house if you are no longer the authority. If you still must have them in the bed, then lay in the bed for a few minutes and have your dog wait on the floor. Then tell your dog that he is allowed on the bed. Don’t allow your dog to jump on whenever he feels like it. He has to ask for permission and wait for your approval.
Your Health Can Be Affected
Sleep – A study by the Mayo Clinic says that over 50% of those with sleeping issues had pets in the bed. 50 percent! This cannot be a coincidence. Your dog is off and on the bed several times a night to do guard dog duties or get a drink of water. Or maybe he just moves a lot, or maybe wants to bathe in the middle of the night. Why on earth do dogs feel they have to lick all over their body at 3am is beyond me. If it’s a flat-face dog, you may have a loud snorer on your hands (or a gassy one – yikes). If yours is like my Aussie, you may have a loud dreamer with a lot of kicks and barking. Whatever it is, it’s interrupting your sleep several times a night. And if you are interrupted, and fall back asleep, did you know that it takes 70-90 minutes to get back to real good REM sleep?!
Allergies – Allergies and lack of sleep go hand in hand as well. You aren’t sleeping well if you aren’t breathing well. I used to wake up every morning with a little bit of a stuffy nose that cleared up later in the day. I used to think it was normal to have congestion every single morning! And I’m not allergic to either of my pets, so what could it be? Well, if pet dander (fur, dead skin and dried saliva) doesn’t bother you either, there are still allergens from outside that stick on their fur and are carried right to your sheets. If you are allergic to dust, grass, trees or pollen, then guess what? You now have it in the bed with you to breathe in all night long. After getting the dogs out of my bed, my congestion was gone! Trust me, try it.
More Guests in the Bed – Allergens are the only thing your dogs are bringing in your bed. Fleas and ticks may be the next visitors you’ll be sleeping with. What about what they stepped in when they were in the yard that is stuck to their paws? Ringworms are another thing you can wake up to in the morning. Or what about pastuerella infections that come from their saliva when they are bathing themselves on your sheets. Various bacterial infections can definitely happen. The list can go on.
This shouldn’t be a surprise, but it may. Lets change the scenario a little bit and say this is a human child sleeping with his parents in the bed. Every. Single. Night. For years. That’s not good, right? It’s not good for the child and it’s not good for the parents.
Married couples need that intimacy and bonding time. Having a dog in the middle or even next to yal all night is a huge problem. Maybe you prefer to cuddle with your dog over your husband? Yes, this can produce some jealous feelings. Parents have troubles making time for each other when they have kids. Dogs aren’t any different. And if your spouse prefers to spend time with the dog more than you, you can bet there will be some hurt feelings over time.
Cuddles and touching is super important in a marriage. It’s one of the secrets to a successful marriage and some say it’s more important than sex. So at the very least, don’t let the dog come in between you. Even if you took the dog completely out of the room to have some intimate time, and then let the dog back in to sleep inbetween you afterwards, you could be causing a lot of harm to your relationship.
Getting a Dog Out of Your Bed (Your Territory)
Convinced? Maybe want to try it for a little while? If your dog has already established the bed as his place, then you have some work to do, but it could be worth it. Remember this, your dog will not hate you. He will give you the sad puppy eyes, but he will get over it. I promise!
First of all, all family members have to agree to this new rule. Reclaim your territory! If one of you gives in and lets the dog on the bed just some of the time, then all training goes out the window and you’ll need to start over. Provide a bed or spot on the floor for them. Let them know this is their bed now. Walk them over to it, or pick them up and lay them down. If they know the down command, use it. Or you can start a new command, which we use “Go night-night” to our dogs and they know it’s time for sleep. Use lots of praise and petting when they are on their own bed.
Make it be known that they only get attention when they are on the floor. No attention is given on the bed. I use the “Off” command, praise and love, and then “Go Night-night” while walking them over to their bed. More praise and love. Once those feet hit the floor, let them know that was the greatest thing they’ve ever done today.
They will keep attempting to get on the bed. It may take a couple weeks, but keep standing firm in your new house rule. If they sit beside the bed and keep giving you the sad face, pet them on the head with a little attention and then turn over and face the other way. Trust me, it’s very hard to turn away from a sad puppy face, but they eventually go to their own bed. The next morning, they will have completely forgotten and no feelings are hurt. You may have a couple sleepless nights, but if you stick with it, it will be worth it.
Check back here and let me know how the training is going and if you’ve noticed any changes in your health or relationship since the change.