Is It OK to Let Your Dog Sleep in Bed?

We break down the realities of dog-human co-sleeping.

Despite the fur, the twitching, and the unabashed space-hogging, research has shown that approximately one-half of all dog owners choose to share their bed or bedroom with their pup.

Yet, for something so seemingly innocuous, where a dog sleeps is a frequent source of disagreement not only within households, but in the dog community as a whole. People tend to fall on one of two sides: you're either uncomfortable with the idea of dog-human co-sleeping or you can't imagine life any other way.

Personal preference aside, is there anything truly wrong with sharing your sleeping quarters with your beloved canine?

Girl Sleeping with Dog
Boris Jovanovic/Getty Images

The short answer is… well, not so clear.

A 2017 Mayo Clinic study found having their dog sleep in their bedroom actually helps some people sleep better.

"Most people assume having pets in the bedroom is a disruption," Lois Krahn, MD, a sleep medicine specialist at the Center for Sleep Medicine on Mayo Clinic's Arizona campus and an author of the study, said in a release. "We found that many people actually find comfort and a sense of security from sleeping with their pets."

It's when your beloved pooch makes his way onto the bed that things can get dicey. The same study found that sharing a bed negatively impacted the human's quality of sleep.

But, as Bradley Smith, a canine researcher who works at the sleep institute at Central Queensland University in Australia, told The Atlantic, the impact is "measurable, but relatively mild."

In Smith's own research on the subject, he found that when people were asked to record their own co-sleeping experience, they reported fewer disturbances than actually occurred. "I take this to [mean] that the benefits of co-sleeping, for those that do it, far outweigh the negatives," he explained.

Basically, people who share their beds with their dogs get woken up more at night, but it's worth it because snuggling up to their pups makes them happy.

As far as the dogs are concerned, The American Kennel Club doesn't seem too worried.

"For a well-adjusted, well-behaved dog, it's quite unlikely that sleeping in your bed or bedroom will do anything except delight your dog, comfort you, and enhance the dog-owner bond," their website reads. "But 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."

So, if sleeping with your pup warms the cockles of your heart and isn't causing behavioral issues, we say go for it. Just plan to wash your sheets and comforter a lot.

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