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Do You Let Your Dogs Sleep in the Human Bed? All of Them?

I brought our little rescue pup, Marshmallow, into our bed to ease her nightmares, and now our big dog, GhostBuster, wants to sleep with us, too.

Heather Marcoux  |  Mar 4th 2015


It started with one little dog in the bed. But then my husband said he felt bad for the big dog. Now, I’m sleeping with two dogs, two cats, and sometimes no husband. I need to figure out how to take our bed back — and how I lost it in the first place.

Looking back, the gradual animal takeover of the human bed began with the adoption of our second dog, Marshmallow. Tiny and timid, Marshmallow spent her first night in our house curled up beside our first dog, GhostBuster, on the big dog bed beside our bed. Having a dog bed in our room was never part of the plan when we adopted GhostBuster, but my husband caved the very first night we had him.

“Why would we take a dog out of a shelter just to make him sleep alone in a cage at night?” my husband said when I suggested we stick to the plan and have GhostBuster sleep in his crate downstairs.

Instead, GhostBuster spent his first night in our room on a pile of guest bedding my husband arranged into a nest for him. The bedding was soon replaced with the big round dog bed he would eventually share with Marshmallow during her first night with us.

Unfortunately, sometime during Marshmallow’s inaugural night in our room, she got up off the dog bed and silently chewed through a phone charging cable. We decided to bring a crate into our room for her the next night — an arrangement that didn’t last long after Marshmallow’s noisy night terrors began.

First she would make those frightened little barks that dreaming dogs make, and then she would wake up with a start, jumping to her feet and knocking her body against the side of the rattling crate. Next, Marshmallow would attempt to shake off her nightmare like a dog shakes off water — making her collar jiggle. My husband would probably deny having ever said this now, but after about a week he turned to me one night and said, “Why don’t you just bring her in bed with us?”

I knew it was wrong, but I jumped at the chance to sleep with my little cuddle bug. Marshmallow’s noisy nights ended right then — now she’s the most quiet of all our pets during sleeping hours, curling up beside me like a furry little angel. Having Marshy sleep with us humans also helped our timid little terrier to become more comfortable with my husband, as she had some issues with men when we adopted her.

The new sleeping arrangement was great for Marshmallow’s confidence, but having her in the bed didn’t seem fair to GhostBuster, who had never even considered jumping up until he saw Marshy do it. A few days after we brought the little one in, GhostBuster made his first attempt — a spontaneous and ungainly leap up onto my husband’s blanket-covered legs, which was quickly thwarted. While my husband and I discussed GhostBuster’s sudden bed ambition, our beautiful boy approached the bed again and rested his head on the edge of the mattress. It was clear that he would do anything to be included, even if that meant sitting up all night with just his head on the bed.

“It’s really not fair to GhostBuster that Marshy gets to sleep in the bed and he doesn’t,” my husband told me.

I was so happy that my husband had come to that conclusion without me having to press for it. Despite having originally been against having dogs in the bedroom, after six months with GhostBuster I was more than willing to let our wonderful buddy share our bed (despite the fact that we knew our dog likes to sleep with his limbs as far away from his body as possible).

GhostBuster was invited to sleep near the bottom of the bed, but over the course of several nights he inched his way up the mattress and wedged himself between my husband and me. I was paw-punched several times while GhostBuster thrashed through dreams I can only assume were about kickboxing. Then one night, my husband caught a particularly hard paw to the face, and GhostBuster was promptly demoted back down to the dog bed.

It seemed so unfair to GhostBuster that he should have to sleep on the floor alone, but I was afraid that if I kicked fearful little Marshmallow out of the big bed to join him it might undo all the progress she’d been making, so I let her stay and be my little furry spoon.

That’s when GhostBuster’s night slurping noises got worse.

Oh, the slurping noises. It’s this thing GhostBuster does to soothe himself to sleep. It sounds like he’s licking imaginary peanut butter off the roof of his mouth. He used to do it as we fell asleep, but after he got kicked out of the family bed he started doing it all night long. The noises actually got so bad that my husband started sleeping alone in the guest room four nights a week, his nights before work, so that GhostBuster’s slurping wouldn’t wake him up every hour.

On the nights when my husband sleeps in the guest room, there’s plenty of room for GhostBuster and Marshmallow to both join me in bed — so much room that I don’t even get pawed in the face at all. Our two kitties, Ghost Cat and Specter, also come in to sleep on my legs while the dogs lie on either side of me.

I love cuddling with my pets, but sleeping without my own husband for half of every week seems totally unsustainable. I don’t like our current sleeping situation, but I don’t have a fair solution yet. Even if I kick GhostBuster out of bed and keep Marshmallow cuddled up, it will still be inequitable to the dogs and GhostBuster’s sleep slurps will still be waking up my husband.

It seems like there is only one option here fair to both dogs, my husband, and myself — we need to get a king-sized bed! And maybe a white-noise machine.

Let’s hear from you, readers. Do your dogs sleep in the human bed? How do you deal with their bed-hogging and night noises? Share your experiences and advice in the comments!

Read more about life with Marshy and Ghostbuster by Heather Marcoux:

About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.