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- This article has been reviewed by a pet health professional. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice.
Traditional boundaries are shifting. Instead of referring to themselves as “dog owners,” people increasingly consider themselves “pet parents.”
Another change? More and more folks are letting their dogs sleep in the bedroom.
But is letting your dog into your bedroom at night a good idea? Turns out it just might be.
A Mayo Clinic study found that, contrary to popular belief, sleeping with dogs in the bedroom doesn’t appear to negatively impact the sleep of their pet parents. The study also found that apparently no one’s listening to their physicians who have telling them to keep dogs out of the bedroom, anyway!
“As long as the dogs were not on the bed, their presence in the bedroom did not appear to be a big issue for the sleep of their owner,” said researcher Lois Krahn, M.D., who was involved in the study.
62% of small dogs, 41% of medium-sized dogs and 32% of large dogs sleep with their owners. – VCA Hospitals
The only caveat the researchers discovered was that dogs “on the bed was a different story,” Krahn said. “You have to be sensible, pay attention to your own needs, your own sleep. And then think of how you can incorporate the dog and don’t let the dog do exactly what it wants.”
Why We Love Sharing Sleep With Dogs
Dogs have a way of finding their way into our hearts, so in a lot of ways, it’s no surprise they’ve found a way into our beds, too.
In a survey polling pet parents about where their dogs sleep, the American Kennel Club found that among those polled, the highest percentage of pups are catching their zzz’s in their parent’s bed.
Here’s what the AKC learned about where pet parents report where their dogs are sleeping:
- In a crate: 20%
- Outside their shelter: 4%
- In a dog bed: 17%
- Various places indoors: 14%
- In their owner’s bed: 45%
According to a new survey from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, almost half (46%) of respondents sleep in the same bed with a pet.
Yet another survey by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine supports these findings. In this survey, pet owners talked about why they enjoy sleeping with their dogs in the bed. Here are three benefits they reported.
- Comfort and security: A protective dog can add a sense of safety. Their proximity can create a real or perceived sense of security when it comes to intruders or unexpected problems in the night. Researchers found that comfort and security were two of the biggest reasons pet owners enjoy having their dogs in the bedroom.
- Bonding: Some dog owners report that the rhythmic breathing of their dog also serves as a sleep agent that helps calm them and whisk them off to dreamland.
- Warmth: Not only are you having a sleepover with your best friend every night, they’re like a hot water bottle that never cools: perfect for a cold winter night.
Yes, But…Your Dog Should Have Their Own Bed
The reason why the Mayo researchers found that dogs sleeping in human beds was disruptive was that, yes, your dog is disturbing your sleep. The way your dog stretches out and their sleeping position on the bed “made a difference,” they reported.
Additionally, there are obedience and aggressiveness issues to consider. As pack animals, dogs may view the bed as a very special place. Being invited up on the bed and sleeping side by side may build trust, but it also levels the playing field. Once the dog decides the bed belongs to them, they may feel like they’re the ones allowing you on it.
This is why some pet experts suggest that allowing your dog in the bed be a special invitation, not expectation.
Don’t Forget About Allergies
Allergies are another consideration. Many pet parents put up with mild allergies, ranging from pet dander to other environmental factors dogs bring into the home. While this might not be an issue throughout the day, time to “detox” during the night—breathing easy without the proximity of those allergens—may be vital to long-term health. In these cases, some recommend that your bedroom be completely pet-free.
The Bottom Line
As the Mayo researchers found, if you really want to share your bed and sleep with your dog, that’s probably what you’re going to do. And that’s OK—if it’s working for you and your partner, great!—as long as you understand the impacts of sleeping with dogs.
The impacts include effects on your sleep, behavioral issues that might arise in your dog, and any concerns you might have with allergies during the night.
However you end up spending the night, we wish you—and your pup—sweet dreams.