The New York Times reports that 60 percent of dog owners consider their dog a member of their family or like a child and many dog owners sleep in the same bed with their pooch -- but is there a downside to slumbering with your furry friend?
A recent Mayo Clinic study tracked the sleep patterns of owners and dogs who slept in the same bed for over a week, both the humans and pets wore sleep trackers, and the study found humans slept 81 percent of the time and the dogs slept 85 percent of the time. The NYT notes, "Levels over 80 percent are generally considered satisfactory."
“This goes against the lore that you should have the dog sleep elsewhere [and not in the bedroom]," Dr. Lois E. Krahn, the study’s senior author and a psychiatrist and sleep medicine specialist at the Center for Sleep Medicine at the Mayo Clinic, tells the NYT.
Veterinarian Dr. Carlo Siracusa says whether your dog should sleep in your bed or not “depends on the animal’s temperament." For instance, if your dog easily reacts to unexpected movements or sounds, sleeping in the bed might not be ideal for the owner or pet.
“There are dogs that tend to be more reactive to stimuli. So, for example, if the dog is on the bed and the owner turns and inadvertently hits the dog with the leg, some dogs will get startled and react out of fear [growling or barking and waking the sleeper]", he told the NYT. “If there are no problems and the owner is happy with letting the pet in the bedroom, or on the bed, it’s fine with me.”
So when should a dog not sleep in the same bed as you? The NYT's experts note:
- Young or older dogs might have trouble sleeping through the night and could easily wake up the owner
- When a dog is sick or ailing
- If the dog is reactive, it might become aggressive if woken or startled
- If there is a new baby in the home and is also sleeping in the same bed as the parents, there might not be enough room for everyone to sleep comfortably
If you are no longer happy sharing your bed with your dog, the experts say to first transition the animal to sleeping on the floor in your room and then eventually move the animal out of the room. They note kicking the dog out abruptly without transitioning may not work for the animal.
Another important thing to consider when creating a comfortable space for your dog to sleep is the elevation of their bed. The experts note often dogs are attracted to sleeping in their owner's bed because our beds are raised. If you provide your dog with a bed on the same level as yours, the dog can easily keep watch of its surroundings and will likely feel more comfortable. Also, many dogs love to burrow under a covering or a blanket, which is said to mimic the warmth of the owner's bed.