Should Rover Sleep With You?

Your dog is probably rather set in his ways. So does he think he's the king of the mountain when it comes to your bed? Dogs know a good thing when they sleep on it. You look forward to the comfort of your bed every night, so it's only natural your dog would as well. After all, it's warm, cozy and it's where you, the pack leader, are. So, should you let your dog sleep in bed with you, or are you unintentionally sending your pooch a message that could end with a power struggle nightmare?

In or out?

Many dog owners feel strongly that their dogs should be allowed to sleep in their bed with them. Others are firm believers that dogs belong in their kennels. Regardless which side of the bed you fall on in this debate, one thing is undeniable: certain dogs make better bedmates than others.

Some dog experts are adamantly opposed to dogs sleeping with their humans, but others aren't. So when even the experts can't agree, what's a dog owner to do, especially if your dog has been sleeping with you for many years?

Bedmate or bed ruler?

Whether your dog should sleep in your bed or not boils down to one very important factor – your dog. Simple as it may seem, some dogs make great bedmates, happy to sleep with you, but also willing to leave upon your request. As a course of habit, you should periodically tell your dog to get off the bed, even if you're going to let him right back up, if only to reinforce that you're in control.

On the other hand, if you have a dog that seems to think he rules the roost, including your bed, you have a problem. Through a dog's eyes, the bed is the most desirable place for the pack leader to sleep. So if your dog refuses to leave the bed, or even worse, becomes aggressive to defend his area of the bed, he's essentially challenging your standing as the leader of the pack. The only way to remedy this is to teach him that sleeping with you is a privilege, not a right – no matter how old or accustomed to the bed he is.

Would you please roll over

Reshaping a dominant dog is not easy, especially if your bed dog has turned into a bed hog. Chances are your dog has been conditioned to a certain bedtime routine since you brought him home. If your dog has slept with you since puppyhood, then it's only natural that he's going to expect the same royal treatment as a grown dog. On the other hand, if your dog has been sleeping in a kennel since arriving at your house, then that's probably just fine by him.

For those who have or may be close to bringing home a new puppy, please take note: the temptation of letting your new, adorable, frightened puppy sleep with you may seem overwhelming. However, training a puppy to sleep in a kennel is actually beneficial for the both of you. Placing the kennel next to your bed helps a puppy feel safe and secure, but also lets him know you're the pack leader. That will only make him easier to train and more willing to listen to you.

As your puppy or dog grows accustomed to sleeping in his kennel (and you'd like him to sleep in bed with you), begin inviting him onto the bed for short durations, perhaps in the morning while you're hitting the good old snooze button a couple of times. As he becomes accustomed to this, extend the periods he's allowed to curl up with you. Just remember, even for dogs that have great bedtime manners, occasionally reinforce who's the boss by commanding them to get off the bed. Be sure to praise them when they do, and invite them back up if you'd like a few minutes later.

Sweet dreams

After all these years with your canine friend, you may be a person that's simply not comfortable letting your dog sleep on your bed, and that's absolutely fine. Kennel-trained dogs often prefer their “private den” over even the bed. But if you do want to catch some Z's with your pooch, make sure he knows you're the leader of the pack. Teaching your dog the ground rules of the bed will ensure that you can both enjoy a relaxing night's sleep.