Should You Let Your Dog Sleep with You?

Many dog experts and owners believe that letting your dog sleep with you can lead him to feel that he's the dominant member of the pack, causing aggression and disobedient behavior. Dogs who are normally dominant may become more aggressive and disobedient if you allow them to sleep with you, rather than relegating them to a dog bed. Normally submissive dogs, however, can be allowed to sleep with you occasionally if you handle their sleep behavior properly.

Letting Your Dog Sleep with You

Some dogs shouldn't be allowed to sleep with their owners. Dogs who already display signs of disobedience and dominance should be made to sleep in a kennel or dog bed. Allowing them to sleep in the owner's bed could exacerbate these behavioral problems, leading to increased disobedience and aggression.

Normally submissive dogs, who respect your position as dominant pack leader, can be allowed to sleep in the bed as long as they continue to respect your rights as owner of the bed.

When Letting Your Dog Sleep with You Is a Problem

Here's how you can tell if letting your dog sleep in your bed might increase his behavioral problems:

  • If your dog dominates the bed, especially the pillows, and becomes an uncomfortable bed partner, you shouldn't allow him to sleep on the bed. Some dogs may slowly begin to take over the best spots on the bed; if this happens, send your dog back to his own bed.
  • If your dog gets into the bed before you do, this could indicate a dominance problem. Some dogs will sleep on the bed when you're not around and then jump off when they see you coming; while this may be distasteful to some owners, it doesn't indicate a dominance problem. Just the opposite; the dog who jumps off the bed when you arrive is respecting your authority.
  • If your dog is a puppy, you should train him to sleep in a kennel. Training new puppies to sleep in kennels is good for both dog and owner. Not only does it keep your dog from soiling the house in the night, it can help him develop appropriate sleep patterns and also establishes your authority as leader of the pack.

Setting Rules when It Comes to Your Bed

If your normally submissive dog begins to take over the bed, you'll need to lay down the law. Many dogs may begin to gradually take over the best spots on the bed, such as the pillows, over time. If your dog becomes an uncomfortable bed partner, banish him back to the floor, his dog bed or his kennel.

You can prevent the gradual development of dominant sleep behaviors by occasionally ordering your dog back into the floor. This is effective to establish your authority, even if you intend to let him right back up again. Furthermore, don't let your dog sleep in your bed every night; this way, he'll remember that sleeping with you is a privilege, not a right.