Getting a puppy comes with a lot of questions and controversies, including if the puppy sleep in bed with you or in a bed of its own in a safe place. Research shows if the human and puppy are healthy, there isn’t a reason to keep the dog out of bed if everyone sleeping in bed is okay with it.
This isn’t a question of yes or no. It’s one of the pros and cons. We’ll talk through this so you can make the best sleeping decisions for your household.
Where Should My Puppy Sleep the First Night?
When you first bring the puppy home, you have to think of it from the puppy’s point of view. This dog is in a strange place with new people and confusing scents. Anxiety, fear, and intimidation can come into play for the pup.
You might have been planning to get this dog for months, but the dog was just taken to a new place. It’s completely foreign to anything they’ve been exposed to before. They don’t have their familiar siblings and parents around.
Having the puppy in your bed the first night could be dangerous. You might roll over on the puppy. The puppy might wander and get into trouble.
The puppy needs safety and security. Regardless of your plans down the road, you should have your puppy sleep in a crate or kennel, at first, according to the dog experts at Purina. You can place the kennel in or near your bedroom.
Make sure the crate or kennel has a waterproof lining and something comfortable to sleep on. If you got the puppy from a breeder, you most likely got a blanket with familiar smells on it. Place this in the sleeping spot with the puppy. You can also get a stuffed toy surrounding a mechanical beating heart to give it a sense of being close to its mother to lessen anxiety.
Is it Bad for a Puppy or Dog to Sleep in Bed with Me?
Once the puppy is sleeping through the night and more comfortable with the new home, you might start discussions about sleeping in bed.
The Mayo Clinic did a study on people who sleep with their pets. The study found there is no impact on “sleep efficiency” for the pet or the human. That’s good news for the 45% of dog owners who let their pups sleep alongside them in bed. Put that against another study that said sleeping with a dog causes mild, but measurable, disturbances in sleep. Even in science, there is no perfect answer to this question.
Here are things to consider:
- Are you a light sleeper? A dog that moves around a lot might wake you up with each repositioning.
- How big is your bed and how big is the dog? Look at the space between pet vs. bed vs. you to see if there’s even room for both of you.
- Does your dog wander? A curious puppy can easily see the coast is clear when you snooze off and can get into trash, trouble, or tear up your shoes.
When dogs sleep, they are still alert to sounds that happen. It’s just instinct from the days when dogs slept in the woods and had to be on guard at all times. Your dog might wake up much more than you normally would, especially in a new environment. If you live on a noisy street or an apartment where lots of doors slam, it could be bad for your quality of sleep.
Is it Unhealthy for a Puppy or Dog to Sleep in Bed with Me?
You think you are just bringing a dog to bed. What you are bringing is that dog and anything else on him or her. That means dirt, shedding hair, fleas, ticks, and feces (yes, it can be buried on their backside or under their tail) could all leave an unwanted imprint on anyone or anything on the bed.
Pets also bring dander which can trigger allergies in adults or children.
You can wipe down your dog’s paws and hair before they climb into bed, but it’s impossible to remove every health risk a dog is carrying. Here are some ways to make the sleeping situation as healthy as possible.
- Wipe the dog down with a clean towel every time he or she comes in. You can also buy bath wipes for the puppy to help keep outside dirt from getting into your home.
- Wash your sheets more often than normal. If you wash them once a week now, try doing it twice a week. This gets rid of any nasty stuff the dog brings to bed.
- Use a HEPA filter in your home to reduce the bacteria, pollen, mold, and dust in the home.
While there is a chance of dog to human or human to dog disease transmission in a bed, it’s very rare and unlikely.
Does Sleeping with a Dog in My Bed Cause Poor Sleep Quality?
We talked earlier about the studies that contradict this answer. So really, it depends on you and the dog. If you know you move and thrash around a lot at night, it could startle the dog and lead to an unintended bite.
If your dog snores, that could keep you awake. If your dog moves around a lot, that could disturb your sleep even if you don’t remember it.
Keep in mind, dogs sleep on a polyphasic pattern. That means they sleep in two phases per day. If the overnight phase causes poor quality of sleep for both of you, the dog gets to nap all day while you work. You are still grumpy and tired because of the restlessness.
Regardless of where a puppy sleeps, there is still the vital part of training that includes several potty breaks per night, which means neither of you will sleep well. Puppy bladders just aren’t developed enough to hold it all night. You’ll hear the whining and whimpering to get out and you’ll need to be at least backyard presentable to take the dog out quickly.
What are the Benefits of a Puppy Sleep in Bed with You?
This debate about where a puppy should sleep is not new. Sleeping with dogs goes back centuries. The AKC reports that Aboriginal Australians insisted on sleeping with dogs. They believed the dogs protected them from evil spirits and provided much-needed warmth.
In modern-day life, the benefits do exist according to the AKC.
- Eases anxiety
- Improved owner-dog bond
- The feeling of safety and security for dog and owner
- Physical connection and warmth
- Waking up to a happy dog ready to take on the day with you
At a time when mental health is top of mind, it’s important to look at studies like the 2012 study by BMC Psychiatry. This study showed that people struggling with mental health issues said their pet was the most important part of managing and improving mental health. Sometimes the benefits outweigh the risks.
Does Letting My Puppy Sleep in Bed Encourage Dog Dominance?
This is a debate even veterinarians don’t always agree on. If your dog already has dominance issues, this can create them, says Cori Gross, DVM, but if the dog isn’t having dominance issues, sleeping in bed with you isn’t going to create them, he adds.
It’s important to note here that regardless of what you decide, you need to make it clear that it’s a reward to get in a human bed, and not a right.
Dog Whisper Cesan Millan weighs in on this topic. He says that by a dog agreeing to sleep in bed with you, he or she is showing that you are the pack leader and they want to be close to you.
My Spouse and I Disagree on Where the Puppy Should Sleep
This is a topic so intense there are even books about it. The most important step is to discuss why the dissenting partner doesn’t want the dog in bed. Is it because of space? Hygiene? Beliefs from childhood? Intimacy concerns? This is a discussion to be had before you get the dog, if possible.
Be respectful of what the concern is. If your partner is worried about dirt and allergies, talk about ways to keep the dog clean. If allergies are a big problem with your partner, the dog in bed might make them ill. If you sleep soundly but your partner is a light sleeper, you and the dog could be well-rested while your partner is caffeinating themselves throughout the day.
This is an argument that isn’t really about dogs, but how couples work through negotiation and compromise.
If the dog is particular or protective of one of the partners, it’s time to talk to the veterinarian or trainer about it. You want a guard dog, right? You just don’t want a dog that guards against YOU. Dogs can get especially protective of humans who they see as the pack leader or if, for example, the woman is pregnant.
Another option is to put the dog’s bed alongside your bed, so a quick reach down allows a pat on the head and a belly rub before dozing off.
Let’s Talk about Sex
If the concern is about intimacy in the bedroom, there’s great advice from Dr. Joel Gavriele-Gold, who wrote the book When Pets Come Between Partners.
“Some people are afraid the dog is watching or they’re afraid the dog will interfere. I think it’s very significant,” Dr. Gavriele-Gold told the AKC. “It requires considerable discussion by the couple. I often suggest ‘dog-free evenings’ if both people feel like it might be a sexy evening. Objections to having the dog in bed may have much more to do with how two people feel about sex and more particularly about sex with each other. Having sex or the lack of it may indicate that what is going on in the relationship is deeper and probably not being talked about.”
You can also agree to have “dog nights” in bed. Maybe it’s once a week at first to see how it goes. This also reinforces to the dog the whole concept of being in bed is a privilege and not a right.
What if My Dog Won’t Sleep in the Bed with Me?
Ah, the separation anxiety tables have turned. You want the dog in bed and the dog is off sleeping on the kitchen floor. You are floored about this!
We’re going back to Cesar Millan for this answer. No, your dog isn’t mad at you, upset you didn’t give two dinners, or being dramatic.
A dog’s normal body temperature is 101° – 102.5° while you’re sitting at a cooler of 98.6°. Those winter months your puppy is much more likely to snuggle up into a warm bed and enjoy the body heat. When summer hits, it’s a sauna in that bed for the dog. They are naturally going to seek out the coolest spot they can find, according to Millan.
You might think sleeping on cold, hard tiles is uncomfortable, while your dog might as well be lying on air conditioning. Heck, they might even be poised by the A/C duct. Even some dog beds are designed specifically to allow in as much cool air as possible.
Should I Let my Puppy Sleep with My Children?
Concordia University in Montreal recently did a study on this topic. It showed that 30% – 50% of children sleep with a pet in bed. It’s worth noting this study was for pre-teens and teenagers.
A Sleep Foundation study found that there could be long-term benefits to having the dog bunk up with a child, assuming the child is in favor of this.
In the end, this is a parental decision and not up to the child. While spouses need to negotiate, children can state their point but don’t have the final say.
Should My Guide Dog Sleep in Bed with Me?
Guide dogs are trained from the beginning to not get on furniture or sleep in a bed. They are only trained to sleep in crates and become quite comfortable there. This is because it’s unknown if the eventual owner will allow such house manners as jumping on the bed.
If the owner eventually decides to add in what they call a “creature comfort”, that’s on them, but they should also weigh the same pros and cons.
There’s an App to Help with This
If you aren’t convinced yet, or still trying to convince your partner to give it the go-ahead, try one of the many sleep apps for people and pets.
You can look at the data to see if the human or dog’s sleep is impacted by cohabitating in bed.
Let’s Put This Topic to Bed
You’ve heard the pros and cons of a dog sleeping in bed with you.
You should have these discussions and consider the benefits and risks long before you gaze into those wide puppy eyes. You want to make a decision based on logic, reason, and your personal health situation, not one that stems from emotion when those wanting eyes gaze up at you on the bed, begging you to say,” OK, just this once,” knowing a lifetime of sleeping together is upon them.
You have to make the right decision for yourself, your family, and your puppy.
Vet about dominance: https://www.everydayhealth.com/pet-health/allowing-dogs-in-bed.aspx
Waterproof lining options: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=waterproof+kennel+pad&crid=2PAHATG0QAD68&sprefix=waterproof+kennel+%2Caps%2C242&ref=nb_sb_ss_ts-doa-p_1_18
Purina article about sleeping at first: https://www.purina.co.uk/articles/dogs/puppy/welcoming/sleeping-arrangements
Mayo Clinic: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S002561961730486X
HEPA filter: https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/what-hepa-filter-1
BMC Psychiatry: https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12888-016-1111-3
When Pets Come Between Partners: https://www.amazon.com/When-Pets-Come-Between-Partners/dp/0876056265/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=sl1&tag=amerkennclub-20&linkId=0757da98098a062f1b38e777e029047f&language=en_US
Sex concerns with dog in bed: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/advice/when-your-partner-doesnt-want-your-dog-in-the-bed/
Elevated dog bed: https://www.amazon.com/Coolaroo-Elevated-Cooling-Washable-Outdoor/dp/B0091E7Q2G/ref=sr_1_6?keywords=cool+dog+bed&qid=1639953316&sr=8-6
Dogs sleeping with children study: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-news/sleeping-with-pets-good-for-children
Beating heart toy: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=puppy+beating+heart&ref=nb_sb_noss_2