That statement is usually delivered with a guilty look normally by new clients during our history taking process. Sometimes there’s also a hint of fear in the person’s face as they say it. Are they afraid that the dog trainer might now reprimand them for such a heinous crime?
Let’s just set the record straight. For the most part, I don’t care if dogs sleep in people’s beds. There are a few exceptions, but generally speaking a well-behaved dog can be allowed on your bed if you so choose to share your bed with a beloved canine. I know I do and I love it.
I don’t know where people got the idea that dogs should never be allowed on furniture, especially on the bed. Has our society been so ingrained with the myth that our dogs are all eager to dominate us little human beings that we now think sleeping in our beds is a way for our dogs to usurp our thrones? On the contrary, our dogs do not spend every waking moment plotting ways to take us over. It’s really as simple as this: dogs like to sleep in our beds because they, just like us, love to be comfortable and they also like to sleep with their families. Shocking, right?
There are, however, types of dogs that I would not want in someone’s bed. The reasons vary, none of which have to do with dominance.
If your dog is not housetrained, sleeping with you in bed is an invitation for trouble. Unless you don’t mind rolling over in a puddle of pee (or worse) allowing a dog that does not have control of his bladder to slumber with you is problematic. Soft surfaces entice dogs to potty. In that situation, it is quite likely that you won’t even be awake to redirect your dog’s behavior.
Another type of dog I would not want sleeping in bed with their owners is a location guarder. Imagine waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and then not being able to crawl back in because you’ve got a dog growling at you.
“Velcro dogs” are dogs that are very attached to their humans and can sometimes suffer from separation disorders. If your dog is already hyper-bonded to you, you may not want to foster an even stronger relationship by spooning together for eight hours each night.
Other types of dogs that you may want to consider not allowing in bed with you include the bed hog that likes to twist and turn, the little dog you may squash by rolling over on her, and the dog that hyperventilates under the cover because she doesn’t know how to crawl out from underneath the blankets. Lucy falls into the last category and would sometimes wake us by breathing so heavily that the bed would shake. That’s still not enough to deter me from letting her sleep with me at night.
In any case, I just felt the need to let people know that for the most part, there’s nothing wrong with letting your dog sleep with you. I think it’s kind of sweet. Also, there’s nothing wrong with not wanting your dog in your bed. Maybe you just don’t want dog hair all over your bed. That’s your prerogative. Just know that if you’ve wanted to let your dog nap with you and they don’t have any of the problems listed above, but you’ve been concerned about sending your dog the message that they are dominant over you, then stop being silly. If it makes you feel better, ask your dog to perform some manners cues first and then invite him up as a reward.