Should You Let Your Dog Sleep In Your Bed? Here's What Science Says

Man cuddles his pet dog in bed.
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Lifestyle

While all animal lovers share a close relationship with their pets regardless of their companions' species or whether they're mammals, birds, reptiles, or insects, it often seems like dogs and their owners are virtually inseparable.

This special bond, which dates back to early humans, also applies to sleep habits and sees plenty of people sharing a bed with their canine best friends.

If you're among them, then you probably can't imagine crawling into bed without your fur baby by your side. But is it okay to let your dog sleep in your bed? Here's what experts say.

The Pros

Woman snuggles her dog under the covers.
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There's a vast number of reasons why we adore our pet pooches, and that includes the health benefits of dog ownership.

"The companionship of dogs brings numerous mental health benefits, especially during stressful times," states Inverse, citing a couple of studies that have revealed important sleep benefits of having a dog.

According to the media outlet, sharing a bed with your dog can help you get more sleep and doze off quicker, per research published in 2019 and 2018, respectively.

Sleep quality aside, there are other advantages to consider, such as the sense of comfort and companionship your dog provides.

"Co-sleeping with your dog can also ease anxiety and provide a feeling of safety and security," notes the American Kennel Club (AKC). "Your light-sleeping canine will alert you to anything out of the ordinary, so you can rest easy through the night."

"Dogs are also perfect bed warmers, keeping you toasty on a cold night. And finally, there is no substitute for waking up to a tail-wagging dog."

The Cons

Man sharing bed with dog.
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However, all these stand true for "a well-adjusted, well-behaved dog," AKC points out. Aside from behavior, other things to consider when sharing your bed with your pup are their size, age, cleanliness, and routine, according to This Dog's Life.

One potential downside of co-sleeping is that your dog will, more often than not, hog the bed. Whether they snuggle super close to you or lay in the middle of the bed with their legs splayed out (something known as starfishing), you might not be getting the restful sleep you need.

Some veterinarians also argue that co-sleeping can facilitate the spread of disease, both from dogs to humans and vice-versa, as well as be a strong allergy trigger.

"You’re probably not allergic to your sweet pooch. But, you could be allergic to what they are bringing in the bed with them," says Pet Fusion, pointing to dirt, pollen, and other allergens that can stick to fur.

Dog & Human Sleep Cycles

Woman works on laptop in bed next to sleeping dog.
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While you and your dog may be asleep at the same time, canine and human sleep cycles are not in sync.

"Dogs are polyphasic sleepers and average three sleep/wake cycles per nighttime hour, whereas humans are monophasic sleepers (one period of sleep over a 24-hour cycle)," explains AKC, pointing to studies that have uncovered sharing a bed with your pooch can lead to "greater sleep disturbances" than simply allowing them to sleep in the same room but in a different spot as you.

Another important thing to consider is that co-sleeping might affect your pet's quality of sleep, as well. While you might love cuddling up with your dog for the night, your four-legged companion might not feel the same.

“I find most dogs don't want to be cuddled or held down or anything like that — they find to be too warm,” veterinarian Ryan Llera tells Inverse.

This can lead to sleep issues for your furry pal, which also spells sleepless nights for you. The same applies if you have a tendency to kick in your sleep, in which case it might be safer for your pup to sleep separately.

Can Co-Sleeping Affect The Bond Between You & Your Dog?

Woman cuddles dog in bed.
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While many will argue that sharing a bed with your dog can strengthen your bond, the opposite is also likely to happen, experts warn.

“It does have the potential to erode that bond,” says Llera says, identifying sleeplessness as the main reason for that.

When both you and your pooch experience stress from not getting enough sleep, you're more likely to clash and your relationship can suffer. The same goes for you and your partner if your fur baby is hogging the bed and keeping you from resting comfortably for a prolonged amount of time.

Equally important is your dog's temperament, Llera stresses.

“If they get started easily when they are in a sound sleep, one of their reactions is to be alert, which might result in a growl or a snap.”

Another problem that can occur is resource guarging, where your pup "might growl and bark to protect his sleeping spot on your bed," shows AKC.

"If your dog is showing signs of aggression or any other problem behavior that is being worsened by co-sleeping, provide your dog with his own sleeping space while you consult with a professional trainer, a behavior consultant, or your veterinarian."