In Defense of Letting Your Dog Sleep in Your Bed

published Apr 27, 2022
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Before I adopted my 34-pound dog Misty, I never thought I’d be okay with letting her sleep in my bed. 

For one thing, it was always my mom’s rule to keep dogs off the furniture when I was growing up. And as a very clean kid, this wasn’t a problem for me. When I brought Misty home in 2020, I had a pretty firm sense that she probably shouldn’t be allowed on the couch or bed. Aside from my fears about germs, I’d heard rumblings about how it wasn’t great for training and could cause some bad behaviors. 

But there’s nothing like a new dog to teach an old(ish) owner new tricks. If you have a dog, and you secretly want to be convinced that having them sleep in your bed is good for both of you, I would contend that it is. Here’s how it happened for me. 

Behavioral issues can have nothing to do with sleeping on the furniture.

Kelly Hayden, owner and lead trainer of Ardent Dog, calls it an “arbitrary rule” that dogs shouldn’t be allowed on furniture. 

“As a dog trainer specializing in separation anxiety, I do not discourage my clients from letting their dogs sleep on their beds,” says Hayden. “If your dog has issues guarding your bed, then I would consult with a professional. But there is no significant research that indicates sleeping on your bed causes behavioral issues, including separation anxiety.”

For a while, Misty was only allowed on the couch in my apartment.  My bed was still off-limits. It was permitted by the trainers, but I still had this feeling that maybe I’d rather keep my bed dog-hair-and-dirt-free. I worked with a few different trainers in the beginning, because Misty had (among other things) severe separation anxiety the second we met. She would cry and howl and scratch wildly at the door — even if I just left the room to shower. Leaving the house was almost impossible.

Fast forward a few months. It’s morning, and my eyes are still heavy. I’ve yet to remember the rules of the waking world, and suddenly this sweet ball of fur jumps on the bed. She crawls under the covers and nestles her warm body right against my belly, and we both fall back asleep. 

After that, there was no going back. 

I actually sleep better with a dog by my side. 

I feel safer with Misty close by. There’s something primal and secure about sleeping that way, being able to communicate nonverbally. If something is off, I know Misty will alert me. And I think it makes Misty feel safe, too. Think about how puppies sleep: They’re cradled in a puddle of fur and warmth, all of them calmer knowing that the whole group will find out if there’s danger. 

The other part of this is just about comfort. Sometimes, if I can’t fall asleep, I can focus on her breathing, or match mine to hers, and it helps calm my mind. Combined with her warmth, and I’m telling you, there’s no better sleep-aid out there. 

It keeps her cleaner.

Of course I’m still afraid of germs, though I’ve gotten much better about it. And what I’ve noticed is that letting Misty sleep on my bed actually motivates me to keep her cleaner. 

I bathe her once a week, and while I would totally let that routine slip if she were only a couch dog, I really stick to the schedule knowing that it’ll keep my bed from getting dirty. 

In case you also need motivation to keep your dog up to date on vaccines, vet checkups, and preventative medications, letting them on your bed should do it. Because as long as they’re generally healthy, you really don’t need to worry about them getting you sick. 

Besides keeping Misty clean and healthy, I also have an even easier solution for this issue: dog-dedicated blankets. I have a couple of blankets (it’s more like every soft blanket in my apartment) that Misty has commandeered to be her blankets. But it works out. I just throw one onto the couch or bed before she jumps up, and they become the fur magnets.

She and I stay flexible. 

I think it’s important to keep in mind that you and your dog are going to have preferences, moods, and circumstances that won’t allow for this arrangement every night. Sometimes you’re not going to want to share your bed with a dog, and sometimes your dog might prefer to sleep somewhere else (I know this sounds unlikely, but at least for Misty, it’s 100 percent true). 

I love the way Hayden explains it. “My personal dogs have the freedom to choose where they sleep, and I love it if they choose to sleep on my bed,” she says. “The decision to let your dog sleep on your bed is up to you (and your dog!). It all depends on the personal preference of the human and dog as individuals.”

That’s pretty much the arrangement we have in our home, and I also enjoy having the option to ask Misty to sleep in her own bed right next to mine when that’s my preference. It also helps for dog sitting, because not everyone is going to want to cuddle up with Misty the way I do. 

So when anyone brings up letting dogs on furniture, I now answer confidently: If it makes you and your dog happy, why not? Grab a few extra cozy blankets, and prepare to sleep tight.