Sleeping With Your Dog

I am often asked whether sleeping with your dog is a good thing or a bad thing? Is it dangerous, or can it be good for your health?

The subject of sleeping with dogs is, to say the least, a controversial topic and opinions seem to be widely divided.

There are those of you who would never dream of allowing your dog(s) on your bed and others who couldn't bear the thought of moving Fido off the bed!

So, is sleeping with a dog safe or not? Let’s explore this!

A golden cocker spaniel lying on his owner's bed. He has a soft toy in his mouth and a little stuffed penguin cuddled against him.Sleeping with your dog is good for you!

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

The term 'let sleeping dogs lie' refers to the fact that dogs can be unpredictable when woken, which raises the question, "Is it safe to sleep with a dog"?

Should your Cocker Spaniel be allowed to sleep in your bed?"

This article will help you to understand the pros and cons of sleeping with your pets.

Pros and Cons of Sleeping with Your Dog

Allowing our dog on or into our bed raises many questions, including the question of safety, hygiene, and pack control.

Let's explore some of the issues (good and bad) associated with sleeping with your dog.

Sleeping with Your Dog: Negatives

What follows is just a few of the negatives associated with sleeping with a dog. For many dog owners, these negative points don't matter; they can live with them. That's their choice, of course, but for others, they're a step too far. 

Anyway, here they are, you can make up your own mind.

Sleeping with A Dog Can Be Dangerous

Many pet owners believe that sleeping with your dog can be unsafe and restrict their pets to sleeping in their own beds.

It’s well documented that rousing a dog from sleep can lead to trouble. When a dog is woken unnaturally, either by someone poking, prodding, or even stroking him, for those first few seconds of waking, he is in an instinctual ‘state of alert’.

This is the time when your usually friendly, even-tempered dog suddenly bites.

There are many incidents where people have been accidentally bitten by a dog that was approached when asleep.

Could this on its own be a good enough reason to insist that sleeping dogs lie in their own bed?

Isn't it better to be safe than sorry, especially where children are concerned?

Alpha Male Issues?

Believe it or not, there is a hierarchy even when dogs are sleeping!

Allowing your dog to sleep on your bed may also throw up alpha male issues, especially where there's an uncertainty in your pack about who exactly is the alpha dog.

Before domestication, the wild alpha dog would always have the best sleeping area, and his (or her) bed would be sited slightly away from the rest of the pack. 

Wherever possible, it would also be higher up than the others because height reinforces the position of the alpha dog.

In your Cocker Spaniel's domesticated world, you are the alpha male, and your bed is the alpha bed.

If you let your dog sleep on your bed, you should be aware of the potential for an alpha challenge. If we take the alpha theory to its limit, your sleeping area should be out of bounds to your dog.

In reality, we know that's not going to happen, but if your dog tries to claim your bed as his own or he growls at others who approach your bed, remove him from the bedroom, quickly and firmly!

Black cocker spaniel lying on the bed with a deep pink pillow. The background is a bright yellow.Just let me sleep!

Allergy Sufferers Beware!

If you sleep with your dog, and you suffer from allergies, your condition may worsen, or you may develop respiratory problems.

Our Cocker Spaniels are often shedding something or other, whether it's their hair, fleas or flea debris, (yuk!) dust, dirt or something equally unpleasant.

Any of these could aggravate an existing allergy, not to mention passing on the germs he may have picked up!

Perhaps, if you have an allergy, this is a good argument against allowing our dogs to sleep in our beds?

Is It Unhealthy To Sleep With Your Dog?

Because Cocker Spaniels enjoy rolling in all sorts of smelly decomposing matter, or something equally disgusting, it raises the additional question of whether or not sleeping with our dogs could be hazardous to our health.

It's said that dogs can pass on diseases to humans, but I could find little evidence of this being any more than one or two isolated cases.

They can, without doubt, pass on germs and bacteria, which I guess is bad enough!

Although this question shouldn't be dismissed out of hand, most owners keep their dogs clean and well-groomed, some wonder what harm a little exposure to the occasional germ can do.

Perhaps a limited exposure to germs can help to strengthen our immune system?

Is today's sterile society contributing to ever-increasing allergies in humans?

Food for thought!

 You Need a Good Night's Sleep!

We all need a good night's rest but that's not always possible if we sleep with a dog. The night may start off well enough, with Fido lying quietly at the bottom of the bed, but as the evening wears on, things change.

They roll over during their sleep and often wake up for a good stretch or a little light scratching before yawning and going back to sleep!

Black and white cocker puppy lying in his dog bed. The bed is light blue inside, and the outside is navy and blue checks.I love my bed Mum!

In addition, dogs are light sleepers, and any sound will have them up and in a sitting position, ready to investigate. 

Movement such as this may not always wake us (unless it's accompanied by barking!), but it certainly disturbs our sleep!

My dog snores (as many do!), but thankfully it's not bad enough to wake me. 

Some dogs like to claim the bed for themselves. Some sleep right in the middle of the bed, sometimes even with their head on YOUR pillow!

Others like to lie across the bed, which doesn’t leave an awful lot of room for you, particularly if you share your bed with a partner! 

Eventually, you are nudged to the edge of your bed and end up sleeping on about two inches of mattress (if you’re lucky). 

I wonder how many of you can relate to that!

Either way, it’s certainly not conducive to a good night’s sleep.

Ageing Cocker Spaniels

If your dog is in his winter years, he may have problems with his joints, making your soft bedding unsuitable for supporting his ageing bones.

He may hurt himself trying to jump onto or off your bed, especially if it's a high bed.

Also, senior dogs often become incontinent...just saying!

Sleeping with Your Dog: Positives

On the other side of the coin, there are many favourable arguments for sleeping with your pet.

Sleeping with a dog can have the effect of strengthening the relationship and bond between dog and owner, as well as creating a stress-relieving calm.

There is also the simple fact that many owners and their dogs love it!

Health Benefits

Sleeping with your dog can be good for you!

It's well-documented that sleeping with your dog can be beneficial to your well-being. It can help to calm your nerves, reduce anxiety, and can also help with depression. 

This has been proven over and over again with PAT Dogs (Pets as Therapy) visiting patients in hospitals and residents in homes for the elderly. 

Patients and residents are more relaxed around dogs, enjoying the calming effect of petting and stroking these animals. 

Just imagine what it can do for you when you sleep with your dog! 

Sleeping with Your Pet Helps Form a Strong Bond

It's also argued that wherever dogs are sleeping in their owners' beds, it can help build and strengthen the bond and relationship between pet and owner.

In my book, that’s a good enough reason for sleeping with your dog!

A Feeling of Safety and Security

Having your dog beside you at night can also help you to feel safe, especially if you live alone.

If there is a fire during the night, or he senses an intruder, I'm sure your dog will let you know about it! 

A chocolate brown cocker spaniel puppy is asleep in his owner's bed. His head is lying on a small colourful pillow.Sleeping puppy on his owner's bed

We Just Love It!

Many dogs are literally part of the family, and their owners wouldn't have it any other way.

Aside from all these positive points, many owners feel that allowing their dogs to sleep next to them is simply delightful.

I love sleeping with my dog, and he loves it too!

So, the $64,000 question remains...

"Should your Cocker Spaniel be allowed

to sleep on your bed?"

Guidelines for Sleeping with Your Dog

If you decide that the positives outweigh the negatives, and let’s face it, many of you do, here are some guidelines to help keep it safe.

  • If you let your dog sleep on your bed, only do so on your terms.

    Your pet must understand that he's only allowed on your bed when he's invited to do so, and he should leave when you ask him to, without hesitation, drama or grumbling!

  • If you don't like the thought of your dog sleeping in another room, why not allow him to sleep in his own bed, on the floor, by the side of your bed? 

  • I don't recommend you let your Cocker Spaniel sleep in a child's bed, no matter how docile your dog is. Personally, I just don't think it's worth the risk!

  • It’s probably best if you don't allow your dog to sleep on your pillow, but it’s entirely your decision.

  • For those of us who really can't bear the thought of our dog not sleeping in our bed or at the pillow end, we may want to consider letting him sleep at the foot of our bed instead.

  • If he strays towards your pillow during the night, gently but firmly lead him back to the bottom of the bed or wherever you allow him to sleep.

  • If your dog growls at you or any member of your family when he's on your bed, banish him from your bed immediately and try some of the best practice advice given here

The subject of whether or not we let sleeping dogs lie in our bed is turning out to be quite a controversial subject, simply follow the link and take a look for yourself.

Summary: Sleeping with Your Dog

So, is sleeping with your dog a good idea? 

I guess it all boils down to individual beliefs, circumstances, and of course, the temperament of their dog(s).

All dogs are different. Some may be fearful, aggressive, excitable, submissive, and others simply calm and relaxed. One thing is sure, they will all react differently in varying situations.

Additionally, every owner is different and holds different beliefs and opinions about what's acceptable and what's not.

Many dog owners sleep with their pets, including me, but many believe that you should never sleep with a dog, no matter what and don't let their dogs anywhere near their beds!

I've listed reasons for and against allowing your dog to sleep on your bed, but at the end of the day, you know your own dog, his temperament, how well-trained he is, and how he behaves around your family and others. 

Only you can decide what's best for your family and your pets.

That's why I believe it's a purely personal choice.