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Does Your Dog Sleep In the Human Bed? What Made You Give In?

Before getting Riggins, I said I would not be one of those crazy people who sleeps with their dog. Famous last words.

Wendy Newell  |  Sep 24th 2015


My baby boy, Riggins, is a 10-year-old German Shorthair Pointer and Samoyed mix. Like most dogs, he takes sleeping very seriously. At least he does now. As a young pup, he only slept as a means to gain energy and run around like the Tasmanian devil.

Where and how he sleeps has changed with age.

Riggins snoozes on the human bed. (All pictures by Wendy Newell)

Riggins snoozes on the human bed. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Before getting a dog, I knew I would not be one of those crazy people who let their dog sleep in the bed. Ew! It just seemed so unsanitary, and how would I get a good night’s sleep with a ball of heat and fur next to me? I already followed the guidelines of professionals for getting the best night’s sleep possible: no TV in my room, having a sleeping routine, etc. I certainly wasn’t going to screw up all that work by adding a dog to my bed, a known “no-no” in the quest for quality sleep.

Famous last words.

When we, my boyfriend and I, originally got Riggins, I carefully made him a comfy bed in our bedroom and got ready to hold fast with my “no dog in the bed” rule. Proving, as usual, that women are the stronger sex, my boyfriend caved about five seconds into a puppy whine, and baby Riggins was allowed on the bed — where he stayed for the first year of his life.

Caught snoozing with my tiny baby boy.

Caught snoozing with my tiny baby boy. (Photo courtesy Wendy Newell)

Of course, I adored having Riggins next to me, but I was a bit cranky about the fact that, like human kids when they invade mom and dad’s bedroom, the only creature having her sleep compromised was me! It was his mom that Riggins had to sleep either on or next to. The ol’ human softy snoring away next to me didn’t miss a wink!

Naps were a no-brainer for Riggins. Those were taken in the human bed whether one of his parents was there to join him or not! To help keep the actual bed free of dog hair, I would carefully drape a big sheet over it, tucking it in above the pillows. I called it “locking the bed.” When Riggins’ dad and I would leave for work, I’d question, “Did you remember to lock the bed?”

A young Riggins hangs out with his friend Zoe on a poorly "locked" bed!

A young Riggins hangs out with his friend Zoe on a poorly “locked” bed! (Photo by Wendy Newell)

When Riggins and I blew that taco stand (aka moved away from the man Riggins called “dad”), we found ourselves in an L.A. suburb, sleeping in a one-story house with bars on most, but not all, of the windows. You bet I let Riggins up on the bed then! First of all, he knew I was going through a tough time and he wasn’t going to leave my side even if I wanted him to. Secondly, I wanted my sweet boy cuddled as close to me as possible for love AND protection.

We got used to our new sleep surroundings together.

Riggins is caught on the bed with his buddy Shadow.

Riggins is caught on the bed with his buddy Shadow. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Our house is a hop, skip, and a jump from Pasadena and the New Year’s festivities of the Rose Parade. Of course, this didn’t cross my mind when the first New Year’s Day we were both jolted awake by a nightmarishly loud BOOM! Riggins and I sat straight up, and I hugged him tightly, both of us with big round eyes. We were going to die. I just knew it. I could feel Riggins’ racing heartbeat next to mine. When we both started breathing normally, yet still on edge waiting for the next attack, I realized it was just the sound of the stealth bombers doing their flyover of Pasadena to start the day’s festivities! Be that as it may, I was very happy to have Riggins to snuggle close to while we both drifted back to sleep.

As we became more comfortable in our house, I started to get Riggins to sleep in his own bed. He wasn’t game at first. Why now, after all this time, should he have to leave the comfort of the human bed to slum it on a plain ol’ dog bed?

A very dramatic flop on one of his original dog beds.

A very dramatic flop on one of his original dog beds. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

It ended up being surprisingly easy to get Riggins to obey. If he refused to move when I told him to go to his bed, I’d simply overwhelm him in a full-body hug until he would sigh heavily as if to say, “Geez, Mom, come on!” and jump down to his own space, where he would happily stretch out without having to endure his my suffocating love!

That “individual bed” status lasted for years. It was WONDERFUL! My sweet boy would come keep me company when I wasn’t feeling well. Otherwise, he would spend the night in his comfy dog bed on the floor nearby.

Trying to snooze.

Trying to snooze. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

As Riggins has gotten older he has adopted a new routine. He will happily sleep in his bed until 6 a.m. or so, when he lets me know it is time to go potty and eat breakfast. After he gobbles up his food, he makes a beeline for the human bed and jumps up to his spot. It’s on the side closest to the door, where he will sprawl out with his head on the pillow — just like a human. NOW he will let me cuddle him, and we start our day drifting in and out of sleep together.

The nights of lovely dog-free sleep became a distant memory when I started my in-home dog-sitting business. Each time I meet a new client and her folks, I’ll ask, “Where does the dog sleep?” I don’t even need to wait for the answer. I can tell by the look on their faces. The dog sleeps in bed with them.

Trying to get some sleep with Shadow -- a close sleeper -- in bed with me.

Trying to get some sleep with Shadow — a close sleeper — in bed with me. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Now it’s Riggins who secures a good night’s sleep all alone, like a prince, on his personal bed, while I share my space with the two to five other dogs who happen to be in our house that night! Oh, well. The dog-free bed lasted for a while.

Where does your pup sleep? Is it an agreed-upon location by both you and your significant other or did the dog make the choice for you? Tell us in the comments!

Read more by Wendy Newell:

About the author: Wendy Newell is a former VP of Sales turned Grade A Dog Sitter. After years of stress, she decided to leave the world of “always be closing” to one of tail wags and licks. Wendy’s new career keeps her busy hiking, being a dog chauffeur, picking up poo, sacrificing her bed, and other fur-filled activities. Wendy and her dog, Riggins, take their always-changing pack of pups on adventures throughout the Los Angeles area, where they live together in a cozy, happy home. You can learn more about Wendy, Riggins, and their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.