THE TRUTH BEHIND DOGS SHARING THEIR OWNERS BED
Some nights my bed can feel a little crowded. Despite being told not to by numerous people, me and my partner sleep with our 60kg French Mastiff. We have always done it since he was a puppy. Yet people always seems to recoil in disgust or shock when they find out. Nobody ever seems to offer a coherent explanation as to why I shouldn’t let him sleep with us.
Of course, there are clear situations where dogs should not be sleeping on the owner’s bed. If you suffer from asthma, you might want to keep you dog out of the bedroom altogether to ensure you at least get some rest from the hair and can breathe normally during your night’s rest. But in most other scenarios it really should come down to the owner’s preference.
CONSIDER HOW BIG YOUR DOG WILL GET
When we made the decision to allow Bruno to sleep on our bed, he was a tiny ball of fluff and took up less than half a pillow. Now he is a 60kg giant. Think about how big your pet is going to get before they build the habit of sleeping on your bed. If you think that they might be too big to do it in the future, don’t let them start, as it will be much harder to break the habit further down the road.
While we were housetraining, we kept Bruno off the bed. He was a larger puppy and had no problem jumping on or off the bed to go to the bathroom, which incidentally happened to be the corner of our room, but we found it easier to keep him in a crate. That way he would whine and wake us up when he needed the bathroom and we could let him outside. This helped us housetrain him faster as he never got used to doing his business in the house. If you are trying to housetrain your puppy, I would recommend not letting them sleep with you until you are confident they are fully trained.
TEACH THEM A COMMAND TO GET THEM TO LEAVE
Once we decided we were going to let Bruno sleep with us. We made sure we taught him a command to get him to leave the bed immediately. This can be done easily enough. When he was on the bed we said “off” and threw a treat on the floor so he would get off. Gradually we removed the treat and he would get off when commanded.
Some dogs can become possessive over the bed and show aggressive behaviour towards you when you try to evict them from the bed space, or they may become protective over their owner and become aggressive if a partner tries to approach the bed. There are two trains of thought on this. The old-fashioned explanation is that this is your dog showing dominance over you and claiming the bed, and the owner, as their own. Behavioural therapists in this camp would recommend keeping the dog away from your bed and showing them who is in control.
However, many modern techniques would not recommend this. It doesn’t solve the problem and just stops the dog being able to display his aggression. In this situation, many modern approaches involve continuing to allow the dog to stay in the bed, but correcting the bed-aggression by showing it that humans can be trusted and nobody is going to steal the bed from it or harm its owner. So even in these instances, it still relies on personal preference.
There really are no overriding reasons why your dog should not sleep in your bed. It really is a matter of personal preference and if you want him or her there, there is no reason why you shouldn’t let them stay. Some people I know say we are disgusting.
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