Two nights ago, the dogs got banned from the bed. It was through no fault of their own, nor from a misperception of some non-existent underlying hierarchy… it was for the simple reason that I don’t want them there anymore. I’m five months pregnant and I wasn’t comfortable trying to squeeze around them. This happened the last two times I had kids, too, and honestly, it’s never been a real issue. So why the post? Because consistently in sessions with new dog-parents, I get the question about whether their dog “can” or “should” sleep on their bed. I tell them quite honestly that it is completely up to them. If they like the doggy snuggles, then go for it; if it’s uncomfortable, then don’t. But there are some things you can do to make bed sharing a little more manageable:
- Start AFTER your puppy is house trained. An un-housetrained puppy should be contained in some way- a crate, an exercise pen, or a tether- at night to help them understand about “holding it”.
- Know that this is something you have control over. If your dog is snarling at you for approaching your own bed; snapping when you ask them to get down; or in some other way making you feel threatened, then STOP. They don’t have to sleep on your bed- it should be a nice thing for everyone involved, not just your dog.
- Work on an “off” cue, so you can ask them to get down when need be and there’s no need to use physical force to move them.
Other than that, I pretty much leave it up to the owner.
That being said, once you’ve allowed (ahem.. in my case, encouraged… ) your dog to sleep on your bed for five years, know that asking them to sleep elsewhere may take a little convincing. Wouldn’t it take some convincing for you to stop sleeping in your own bed? So what did I do? Not that these are rules, but maybe you’ll find them handy.
- I decided on the day and I stuck with the plan. The first night, Kaylee paced around the bed for about 15 minutes waiting to see if she would get invited up. My husband and I ignored her. Completely. No attention for whining, no apologizing, no giving in. Just like any other behavior change plan, consistency is king.
- I bought her a new bed… Yes, I’m a bit of a softie, but honestly, if I’m going to kick her out of “her” bed, then I better provide her with a good option. It just didn’t seem fair otherwise. She took the bait. After realizing there was no invite to our bed forthcoming, she headed over to her Snoozer Cozy Cave, crawled inside, and went to sleep.
- Remembering to kick her out at 2 am. The first night went great, she didn’t even try to get back into our bed. But the last couple of nights, she’s snuck back in around 2 am. Even though it would be easy to just let her stay, we’ve been working on staying consistent about kicking her back out as soon as we realize she’s there.
Just because you decide to let your dog sleep in your bed, it doesn’t mean it’s forever. Decide what YOU want- what works best for your family, and go from there. For me, 90% of the time, it works to have my dogs in my bed, when it doesn’t we change it. You can do the same! So, I guess my answer to Should I Let My Dogs Sleep In My Bed? is... Why not?