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Should you let your dog sleep in your bed with you? Here's what trainers say

Pet parents may be fiercely divided, but experts aren't.

corgi sleeping in human's bed - should you let your dog sleep in your bed
Should you let your dog sleep in your bed? There are pros and cons, trainers say. (Getty Images)

When I got my dog, I swore he was going to sleep in a crate. However, during his first night in our home, he figured out how to escape. After multiple attempts to settle him down, he ended up in our bed — and that's exactly where he's remained for the last year and half. Whether you should let your dog sleep in your bed is an ongoing debate that pet parents on both sides feel strongly about. Some say it's unsanitary, eliminates necessary boundaries and leads to poor sleep quality. Others say it helps them relax, bond with their pets and even feel safer at night.

I turned to three professionals, all dog trainers, to weigh in.

Meet the experts

What are your thoughts on letting a dog sleep in your bed?

Cooper: "Allowing your pup into your bed is a personal choice up to each pet parent. The most important thing to remember when it comes to letting dogs sleep in the bed is to remain consistent. For example, if you allow your pup into your bed on a few occasions, but then realize you don't want them on the bed at all, it will take time, patience and training for them to learn the new boundary. Instead of reprimanding pups for what we don’t want them to do, I recommend teaching them what we want them to do instead. For example, the desired behavior would be to go to their 'place,' such as their own bed, mat or crate on cue. This can be achieved through reward-based training."

Messina: "It is a personal preference, but unless your dog is demonstrating a behavior concern like aggression while in bed with you, there's nothing wrong with choosing to let your dog sleep in your bed."

Milan: "It's okay to let your dog sleep with you as long as you invite them in and set rules, boundaries and limitations. I tell humans to think about if it's the safest option for you both."

Are there any benefits or disadvantages to letting your dog sleep in your bed with you?

Cooper: "Bonding with your pet is essential to establishing a healthy relationship, which in turn is important for the health and wellness of your pet. There's a myth about how sharing a bed with your dog can create a 'dominance mentality,' but this has been largely debunked by research. Bonding can include spending time together on daily walks, practicing cues, playing with toys or something as simple as spending down time together. Pets who sleep in their pet parent's bed are often strongly bonded together. If you feel that your dog is struggling with separation anxiety, reach out to your veterinarian."

Messina: "Most dogs likely choose to sleep with us because we are a source of comfort to them. This could also encourage secure attachment (which is something that was previously only studied in humans but is now being applied to dogs). There is some evidence to suggest that dogs with secure attachment to their guardians are less likely to display concerning behavior problems like separation anxiety. Additionally, there is some evidence that sleeping with your dog can increase nighttime movement and sleep disturbance for humans, particularly in women."

Milan: "When a dog sleeps in bed with a human on his own, then he is going to choose where to lay on the bed. If you are going to sleep in bed with your dog, I would recommend getting in the bed first and having the dog wait. You can then invite the dog into the bed with you after."

Why do some dogs like to sleep in the same bed as their owners?

Cooper: "Your dog likely wants to sleep in the same bed as you because they feel close to you and want to extend those feelings of closeness and bonding. Beyond that, the bed is an extra-luxurious place for them to rest not only because it's comfortable, but also because they may recognize it's where their humans sleep."

Messina: "We know that free-roaming dogs prefer to sleep near humans potentially because they view them as a food source. Our pet dogs have evolved to be attuned to our movements and moods and were selectively bred to be incredibly attuned to us. Not only do they look to us for food but also comfort. Pet dogs likely choose to be near us when they sleep for that reason."

Milan: "When and if you invite a dog in the same bed, they are going to seek love and affection and that's a beautiful thing to exchange, but it's all about rules, boundaries and limitations."

Does letting a dog sleep in your bed cause or increase separation anxiety or any other behavioral issues?

Cooper: "According to the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, letting your pet on the bed is not associated with separation anxiety. If your pet is displaying signs of separation anxiety, reach out to your veterinarian."

Messina: "In a recent study, experimenters looked at 'spoiling' your dog — allowing them to sleep with you or get on furniture (among other things) — and they did not find any link between co-sleeping and separation anxiety."

Milan: "If the human tries to get the dog on the bed or move them, you might get pushback or slight anger from the dog. If you allow the dog to get on the bed before you, they might show behavioral issues because they then feel like you invaded their space that they claimed."

No matter what a person decides — dog on bed or not — is it important for a dog to have a bed of their own?

Cooper: "Dogs thrive when they have a safe space they can call their own. A crate or bed in a quiet corner can be a place for dogs to reset and self-soothe, especially when faced with environments that are unfamiliar, such as when guests visit or you are traveling. With training, pets can learn to go to their designated bed when they need down time or are experiencing anxiety. It’s also important for dogs, especially older ones, to have a soft place to rest that supports their bodies and is easy to get into and out of."

Messina: "Yes, providing a dog a bed of their own to hang out in during the day can be useful for promoting rest behaviors. Many older dogs also suffer from joint problems, so providing a memory foam bed could help reduce pain from laying on hard surfaces."

Milan: "A dog bed can be used for both lying down and for boundary purposes. Not only does a bed give your dog a place where he feels safe and relaxed, but it can be used to teach him to respect boundaries. A dog bed gives a dog a place where they know they can wait which makes them more social, obedient and polite. Not all pet parents use a dog bed for those boundary purposes."

The verdict

Experts say it's A-OK to let your dog cuddle up in your bed, as long as you're comfortable with it. If you prefer to keep your bed fur-free, stay consistent with your choice and give your pup a comfy spot of their own. And, of course, if you notice your dog is experiencing behavioral issues such as aggression or anxiety, talk to your veterinarian and reach out to a trainer for help.

Whether or not you're on board with letting your dog snooze in your bed, you can upgrade both of your sleeping situations with a few accessories.

Give your pup their very own blanket when they're on the sofa or asleep in your bed. They'll love the fluffy faux fur, but it can also help keep your furniture clean and better define a designated spot that's theirs. 

$15 at Chewy

Love your pet but not their hair? This "shed defender suit" can help keep their fur at bay in your bed. It comes in four colors and nine sizes — whether your slumber buddy is a toy poodle or a Great Dane, you're covered. 

$30 at Chewy

Pet parents who shop at Chewy especially love this memory foam dog bed, which has over 1,500 five-star ratings. It comes in four colors and four sizes for your pooch to comfortably curl up. 

$40 at Chewy

As a self-proclaimed germaphobe, I always wipe my dog's paws when he comes in from outside — and I definitely don't let him in my bed until his paws are clean. These gentle wipes are safe enough to use on a paws, ears, faces and elsewhere. (According to a vet, you shouldn't actually bathe your dog that often, so wipes are a good alternative.)

$16 at Chewy

For anyone with a smaller pup or a senior dog, stairs up to your bed are helpful for protecting their joints and preventing injuries. Chewy has a lot of stair and ramp options to go with your decor. This neutral set comes in two sizes — three stairs or four stairs — depending on the height of your furniture.

$56 at Chewy