Should I Sleep With My Dog?

My name is Pauline and I sleep with my dog!

There, I've said it, but is it really bad? I'm asked this question frequently so I thought I'd try and get a discussion going here. It's proving quite a controversial question, as you will see.

I Sleep with My Dog, Is That Good or Bad?

By: Marla Piginton 
From: Canada

Hi, I sleep with my dog. I've been letting my cocker spaniel sleep in the bed with me for about 3 years and have never had any issues.

My dog is definitely not the alpha male and has never tried to claim my bed as his own or growl at others who try to approach him.

Headshot of a golden cocker spaniel looking directly at the camera.I sleep with my Mummy!

He comes into bed after I do, and both he and I are very heavy sleepers, and he has never woken me up in the night. He curls into a little ball at the corner of my bed and stays there the whole night.

As I said earlier, I have been following this routine for the past 3 years and do not see any reason to change it.

So, is sleeping with my dog really that bad?  If so, please let me know so I can change our routine as soon as possible.

Pauline's Reply to "I Sleep With My Dog"

I Sleep With My Dog
By: Pauline (Website Owner)

Hello Marla,

I'm assuming you've just read our article entitled, 'Sleeping with Your Dog' (This is proving to be a really controversial topic as you will see further down the page!)

Unfortunately, some owners don't have such a good relationship with their dogs. Some dogs have had a troubled past, which has resulted in nervous, fearful, or challenging behaviours from their pets.

However, it sounds like you and your Cocker Spaniel have a fantastic relationship and make good 'bed fellows'!

Thankfully, there are many Cocker Spaniels that would never, ever, behave aggressively towards their owners. However, we shouldn't overlook the fact that others do behave aggressively.

As responsible dog owners, I recommend that we use our own judgement about where our pets sleep and decide what's best for us in our own individual circumstances.

If you're happy, Marla, don't change a thing! :-)

Cute cocker spaniel, by the way!

Thank You! 
By: Marla Piginton

Thanks for the great reply. I now feel better about sleeping with my dog.

Golden cocker spaniel puppy lying on her owner's bed. Her owner can be seen in the background in colourful clothing.I am so comfy on my Mamma's bed!

Visitor Comments: "I Sleep With My Dog, Is That Bad?"

I Don't Think It's Wrong... 
By: Jacqueline

I feel it is a dog owners preference as to whether you let your dog sleep in your bed. I know some dog owners that don't let their dogs upstairs, never mind in their bed.

My Sprocker sleeps with us every night. She goes under the covers and sleeps at our feet. I usually wake up in the morning, and she's in her own bed on the floor, I'm assuming because she gets too hot.

It's not harming anybody, and I'm sure your dog loves the safeness and comfort :-).

Visitor Comments: "I Sleep With My Dog, Is That Bad?"

Sleeping With Cocker Spaniels 
by: Anonymous

My cocker spaniel also sleeps at the bottom of my bed, but sometimes he tries to sneak up and lie on my pillow!

This usually wakes me up, and I chase him back down to the bottom of the bed.

I'm not too comfortable with him being on my pillow for a couple of reasons, cleanliness being one of them.

But, more importantly, I've often wondered what would happen if he was sleeping on my pillow, muzzle to face, and he was having a dream where he was chasing prey, and I accidentally woke him.

Would he bite me? I'm not really sure of that answer.

I'm sure he wouldn't bite me deliberately because he's a very gentle cocker spaniel, and my dog loves me, but who's to say that he wouldn't bite me between dreaming and waking?

That's just my opinion and my concerns. I know of many dog owners who sleep with their cocker spaniels without incident.

I believe it's a very personal decision.

Visitor Comments: Should I Sleep with My Dog?

By: Vicki
From: Baltimore

This is one of the dumbest things I have ever read about dog care. Has the author ever lived with any dogs?

I have had many dogs, from puppy-hood through to old age, and they have all slept in our bed.

We have never, ever had any dominance issues or problems with violence. If you can't let your dog sleep with you, then you need to establish a stronger relationship with your pet.

This article should be removed.

Dogs are pack animals; they are healthier and happier when allowed to sleep with their pack. You are their pack.

They are, however, not wolves. They have evolved as domesticated companions, and their instincts and understandings are now very different from their wild cousins.

An orange roan cocker puppy lying on his owner's bed, resting on a colourful pillow.This is MY bed now!

Visitor Comments: "I Sleep With My Dog, Is That Bad?"

Reply from Pauline
Website Owner

Hi Vicki, thanks for your comments about the article on Sleeping with Your Dog.

You are lucky to have lived with many dogs, and I'm delighted to hear that none of your dogs has ever had 'dominance issues or problems with violence'.

However, some dog owners are not so lucky and experience many behavioural problems with their dog(s).

Even though these dogs are part of their family, some owners don't trust them enough to allow them to sleep on their beds, especially not on or in their children's beds.

The domestic dog may no longer resemble its ancestor, but deep down, they may still harbour some of the wilder instincts and characteristics of the wolf, and these have been known to surface from time to time.

Of course, you are right, dogs are pack animals and prefer to be with their pack all the time.

Unfortunately, some of our dogs have behavioural problems which can't be addressed easily, if at all, such as traumatized rescue dogs or dogs who are or have previously been ill-treated.

I still maintain that it's a personal choice whether or not you sleep with your dog. My role is to lay it out, warts and all, so that my visitors can make an informed decision.

I won't be removing this article, Vicki.

I would never forgive myself if someone was seriously hurt because I'd suggested that owners should allow their dogs to sleep on human beds without first considering the potential for injury to humans caused by dogs with aggressive tendencies.

Visitor Comments: Should I Sleep with My Dog?

By: Anonymous

I would love it if my dog could sleep on my bed with me, but unfortunately, that is never going to happen.

I adopted my dog when she was about 2 years old. After a few days, I could tell she had an alpha attitude, and I knew if I let her get her way, we would have a battle on our hands.

Some dogs see being allowed on a bed as a sign of power and dominance. They see their ranking in the pack increase and are less likely to listen and behave.

We know not all dogs behave perfectly, and if you're dealing with a dog who's always struggling to be the alpha male, then it isn't a good idea for them to be on the bed.

Dogs work from a pack mentality, and everything has some kind of order and structure. So, if you can allow your dog on the bed and she still sees you as the boss, then you're lucky.

My dog wouldn't be so giving in that way. She needs to see me as the pack leader who sets all the boundaries, and when she looks up at me on my bed from her own bed on the floor, I am seen as more important than her.

Visitor Comments: "I Sleep With My Dog" 

A Step Too Far?
By: Jed

Our dogs sleep with us too, and, up to a point, I agree.

I sometimes think that people can take the leadership thing a little too seriously.

Don't get me wrong, leadership is very important, but just because your dog sleeps with you isn't going to make him think that he's suddenly the alpha male. My dogs know who's their leader!

My cockers aren't allowed to dominate the bed, so if your dog didn't listen to you when you wanted him to get off your bed or growled at you, then this would definitely be a big issue and would need to be stopped immediately.

Typically, though, the bed isn't the issue in these cases, as these dogs usually have other issues/problems going on.

My cockers sleep on the floor, but sometimes I allow them to sleep with me. However, I usually only end up with one as the other prefers to sleep in his (open) crate.

Visitor Comments: "I Sleep With My Dog: Good or Bad?"

Bed Sharing?
By: Anonymous

I'd say that this is only an issue with dogs that show behaviour problems or begin to protect the bed. The bed is yours, after all.

My dogs sleep on the bedroom floor, and sometimes I let Dilly come up with me, but she doesn't like my moving around and most often gets off the bed to go lay back down on the floor.

She only hops on the bed if I invite her to do so. Dilly is one dog that is very aware of pack dynamics, so if she thinks I need the bed, she moves.

Visitor Comments: "I Sleep With My Dog"

Too Crowded!
By: Ben

I very seldom let my dog sleep in bed with me. It's not that I think I'll lose "alpha status" but more to do with the fact that my dog likes to sleep in the middle of the bed.

I also tend to thrash about in my sleep. Although I could hurt him, I usually wake up when I know my legs or arms have come into contact with him. I end up with poor quality sleep and feel tired and grumpy all day!

So he has his bed, and I've got mine - we're both very comfortable that way!

Visitor Comments: "I Sleep With My Dog, Is That Bad?"

Sleeping Dogs - Your Bed Or Mine?
By: Danny

This is how I see it - it is YOUR bed, not your dogs.

If you're going to let your dog on your bed, invite him to join you on the bed only when he's calm.

Don't let him up if he's asking. Wait until he's down on the floor, being a calm, good dog and then ask him to come up.

You must have rules with your dogs - just like we have rules for our children.

If your dog has any aggression issues - don't allow him on your bed.

Visitor Comments: I Sleep with My Dog

I Sleep with My Dog
By: Vicki

I have always slept with my dogs - but I guess I've been lucky as they've all been very gentle in nature and have never been aggressive towards me.

I do know other dogs, however, that are not so gentle. I'd love them just the same, but I don't think I'd take the risk of letting them sleep with me! :)

Visitor Comments: Sleeping With Your Dog

Sleeping With Your Dog
By: Joseph

I don't agree with you as I think it depends on the temperament of the dog.

I have had several dogs, mostly cockers, but there were two of my dogs (both cockers, by the way) that couldn't ever be allowed to sleep with me (or any other member of my family).

Nor could they be allowed to be around young children - supervised or not. My heart was always in my mouth when we were in the park, and there were children present. I had to make sure the kids stayed away from my dogs.

Both cockers were well trained and otherwise well behaved dogs, but unfortunately, they had slight aggressive tendencies.