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Sleeping with dogs on the bed like Cooper.
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The Struggle of Sleeping with Dogs in the Bed

Do you let your dogs sleep on your bed? One professional dog sitter debates the pros and cons of sleeping with dogs — especially multiple pups at once!

Wendy Newell  |  Oct 24th 2017


Should dogs sleep in your bed? It’s a question I struggle with both as a dog owner and as a dog sitter who often has more than one dog in the bed at the same time! Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of sleeping with dogs in the bed:

Sleeping with my dog, Riggins

Sleeping with my dog, Riggins.

Sleeping with my dog, Riggins. Photography by Wendy Newell.

I have a 12-year-old mixed breed named Riggins. He is my world. As a puppy he slept on the bed because his human dad, my boyfriend at the time, wanted him to. When Riggins and I moved away from that dude, it was me who wanted Riggins in the bed for comfort. A year or so later, I realized Riggins’ need to circle, circle, plop throughout the night was causing me to lose precious sleep — which is something I take very seriously!

It took about a week to teach him to sleep on his dog bed. For years, that is where he stayed, waking me up around 5 a.m. for breakfast and then jumping in bed with me for early morning snuggles. Now, getting up on the bed is difficult for him with his old-man arthritis so he spends most of his time on his orthopedic dog bed. He will make it up with me for naps now and then.

You would think this means my “sleeping with dogs in the bed” issue has resolved itself. WRONG. I’m a dog sitter, which means at any given time I can have up to four pups snuggled up against me while we catch some zzzzz’s.

Sleeping with dogs in the bed who are ‘fair partner’ sleepers

Sleeping with dogs like Cooper is a breeze.

Sleeping with dogs like Cooper is a breeze. Photography by Wendy Newell.

There is one type of dog I have no problem being in the bed with — the one who thinks he is people and sleeps accordingly, head on the pillow, not touching, preferably facing opposite directions. He doesn’t disturb my sleep and I don’t disturb his. One of my clients, a big Golden Retriever named Cooper, is like this. It’s no problem when he visits because he knows the wall side of the bed is his.

Sleeping with dogs who are ‘trouble sleepers’

Sleeping with dogs becomes a problem when one dog sleeps ON you.

Sleeping with dogs becomes an issue when one dog sleeps ON you. Photography by Wendy Newell.

These pups toss and turn or MUST sleep half on top of you. I watch a Dalmatian who is deaf. Although she is sweet as pie, she must sleep under the covers, touching me. If I move an inch, she growls as if she is going to take my leg off. She would never hurt me and she has no idea how she sounds, but it means I better pick a sleeping position I like because I will be in it all night.

Cooper’s brother, a Black Lab named Beau, wants to sleep with me but prefers if it is ON me. He’s a big boy and acts like a weighted therapy blanket even if I don’t want one!

Sleeping with dogs who are ‘jealous sleepers’

Dogs who are jealous sleepers present another set of problems.

Dogs who are jealous sleepers present another set of problems. Photography by Wendy Newell.

The issue with having multiple dogs in the bed is the obvious fact that they are each vying for the perfect spot. It can mean trouble for all involved. One night, I was asleep with a couple of pups when a third jumped up and accidentally landed on a slumbering mutt. The resulting fight sounded bad. When I turned on the light, it took me awhile to figure out where all the blood was coming from. The poor pup who had made the mistake of trying to get in with the gang had gotten the tip of his ear bitten off. Needless to say, that meant NO sleep for me as I spent the rest of the night at the emergency vet.

Sleeping with dogs who are ‘bed hogs’

Don't let your dogs hog all the blankets!

Don’t let your dogs hog all the blankets! Photography by Wendy Newell.

Whether it’s one pup who manages to take up more space than a full-sized adult human or multiple animals building a game of Tetris for your body, bed hogs are the worst. I’ve gotten used to sleeping sideways, with my head at the foot of the bed, in an S shape, in a U shape … in any shape you can imagine. The secret is to grab the covers and wrap yourself in them so, if nothing else, at least you won’t get cold!

Sleeping with dogs who have cleanliness issues

Dogs who roll around in dirt all day make for some messy sheets!

Dogs who roll around in dirt all day make for some messy sheets! Photography by Wendy Newell.

Riggins and his house guests like to play, hike and wrestle. That means dirt. Dirt and hair everywhere. The state of my sheets would make you weep and be concerned for my health. I can change them daily and it wouldn’t matter. It’s gross.

So, why would I ever choose to sleep with dogs in my bed?

Two dogs on one bed.

So, why would someone ever sleep with dogs? Photography by Wendy Newell.

With all these negatives, why would I want a dog in my bed? Why?! BECAUSE IT IS THE GREATEST THING EVER! Being able to throw your arm over a big dog and burying your face in his fur is the best therapy if you are sad or just need a little extra support. Having a little pup burrow herself as close as possible in the back nook of your knees is comforting. A wet nose up against your cheek just makes you giggle. That move where a dog pushes his paws against you with straight legs is like a comforting backwards hug. Sleeping with dogs means being surrounded by pure love while you snooze.

That’s why dogs are allowed on my bed. Even when I know that, logically, it isn’t the best choice!

Tips for sleeping with dogs successfully:

  • Groom your pups daily. Brushing and gentle grooming wipes are great.
  • Stairs, ramps or carefully placed stools help small and older pups get up and down without hurting themselves.
  • Give your pup his own pillow that you can move to his favorite spot on the sofa and other places. Then he may stop stealing yours!
  • Give burrowers their own blankets on top of the bed.
  • You want a big dog off the bed? Cover him with love. If I throw an arm and leg over Riggins, he looks at me like I’m too clingy and jumps right off.
  • Did the dogs take over your bed? A sleeping sack or sheet sleeping bag will make sure what touches you is clean!
  • Invest in a washable mattress cover that is encased (like a giant duvet cover but for your mattress).

Tell us: What about you? Do you let your dogs sleep on your bed? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Still stumped if you should let your dog sleep on your bed? Read more about allowing your dog to sleep on the bed with you on Whole Dog Journal >>

Thumbnail: Photography by Wendy Newell.

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