Sleeping with dogs, is it bad for your health? Does it spoil the dog? Since dogs are considered by many pet parents as an integral part of the family, it makes sense and comes quite natural to want to allow them to sleep in the bed. Indeed, in many households letting Fido sleep in the bed is the norm. In some, not so much; indeed, dogs may be barely allowed to get on any furniture. And in some others the big guys aren’t allowed, but owners close an eye on letting the smaller ones hop in the bed. The subject has sure been a source of controversy over the years. Whether you own a small dog or a very large one, you may be seeking the truth as to how harmful it may be to let your dog sleep with you and the impact it may have on his behavior.
Statistics Show Many Dogs Sleep in Beds
If you think you’re the only dog owner who allows Fido in bed, think again. According to a survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association almost half of dogs sleep with their owners in their bed. Size seems to matter though when it comes to dogs curling up in beds. Apparently, the smaller the dog the more likely the owners pamper him and allow him in bed. Statistics show that about 62 percent of dogs that snooze on comfy beds are small dogs, 41 percent are medium-sized and 32 percent of them are large.
Is Allowing your Dog on the Bed Unhealthy?
The answer is, it depends. If you suffer from allergies or a respiratory condition such as asthma, of course these will only exacerbate since you will be surrounded by lots of fur. In such cases, the best approach is to not allow pets in the bedroom. Of course, there are some hypoallergenic dog breeds, but allergies can be triggered by so many other things such as your dog’s saliva, the dander, or the pollen and dust that inevitably come along for the ride on your dog’s coat.
Another concern is how the dog affects your sleep. If your dog constantly moves about and you are continuously monitoring his whereabouts to avoid crushing him, it will surely affect the amount of zzz’s you catch each night. On the other hand though, there are people who feel safer and more relaxed knowing that their pet is right next to them at night.
Parasites may also get in the way when it comes to pets sharing your bed. If your pet spends a lot of time outdoors, he’s more likely to bring along pesky pesticides such as fleas, ticks and lice. Best to play it safe and put your pooch on a good flea and tick preventive. Not to mention zoonotic diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans. Ringworm, intestinal parasites and other infectious diseases are a possibility.
Of course, there’s always the hygiene issue. Your dog walks outside and then jumps up on your bed carrying along who knows what. Veterinarian Lucy O’Byrne, at West Village Veterinary Hospital in Manhattan, suggests to simply wipe those paws down. As long as the dog is kept clean and healthy, there shouldn’t be any major problems in sharing the bed. At the most, you can place a throw over the bed to avoid direct contact with the blankets or sheets.
Does Allowing Your Dog in Bed Create Behavioral Problems?
Does sleeping in the bed with the owners cause any behavior issues? Several years ago this was considered a big no-no, something that could have triggered major behavior problems. Things though have changed for the better in these past years. Internationally known dog trainer Victoria Stillwell claims that if your dog doesn’t have any particular behavioral problem to start with, it shouldn’t be an issue to sleep in bed with you. Actually, sleeping in the bed with you is often a sign that your dog trusts you.
However, there are certain circumstances you need to be wary of. For instance, if the dog resource guards the bed, acts protective of one person or displays any other aggressive displays, this privilege shouldn’t be allowed. In such a case, the best option is to provide dogs with their own sets of dog beds that will be kept on the floor. It may take several days of training to let the dog learn that the bed is now off limits and he should strictly sleep on his own bed, but perseverance is rewarded if you are consistent and firm.