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Should My Dog Sleep on My Bed with Me?

Snuggling with your favorite canines or felines shouldn't be a taboo, or should it?

As a dog owner and avid dog lover myself, I have always been curiously fascinated by this question. My little guy Theo is a toy poodle, so he’s always been small enough to snuggle with at night. For the most part, you won’t even know he’s there. But how many times have I heard from other fellow dog owners (my mother included) that dogs shouldn’t be allowed on the bed? Too many times to count. We hear stories about kids with autism or children who have disabilities that are coaxed into comfort with the companionship of a dog. A dog’s presence is unconditional and pure, without any harmful intentions that cause pain, hurt, suffering. We as human beings continue to collaborate with dogs to create a harmonious environment for those around us on a daily basis.

But if that’s the case, then what is the big deal with sleeping on the bed, anyways?

A short article I read recently mentioned that among many reasons not to let your dog on the bed, a few of them include things like if they are potty training, if you don’t truly know how big your dog will get to be just yet, right down to if they fart a lot at night. And while some might argue that a significant other could very well do any and/or all of the same, perhaps it is more strangely unacceptable than we thought?

The Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center had done a study where they surveyed a number of their patients who had dogs or cats as pets. 53% of those pet owners claimed that the cause of disturbed sleep was primarily due to their pets in some way or another. Scientifically, sleep deprivation has the potential to lead to memory loss, issues with being alert and a variety of mental health issues.

Another common point that discourages many pet owners to allow their four-legged companions onto the bed is due to the complication of dominance or aggression in some pets. For some breeds of dogs and cats, allowing them to share your bed can sometimes be the equivalent of spoiling them. If your cat learns to understand that being on the bed is OK and that you respond passively with a simple hiss, I’m sorry to say, but that bed is no longer yours, my friend.

Yet despite all of that, an alternate study done by the American Pet Products Association of pet owners in America showed that half of the participants surveyed did in fact allow their pets to sleep in their bed. 62% who answered yes had small dogs, 41% medium-sized dogs and 32% were large dogs. Positive comments included that their pets provided a sense of comfort and protection, while their warmth was a benefit to coaxing and encouraging sleep. Some pet owners even found that their pets were generally happier being on the bed than off even when invited opposed to hopping onto the bed itself, as it contributed towards their pets feeling loved and secure.

And while it should be safe to say that no pet should come between any relationships, allowing your pet onto the bed during sex has also been known to harm this. Elizabeth and Charles Schmitz, love and marriage experts who wrote Golden Anniversaries: The Seven Secrets of Successful Marriage state that even if one person doesn’t want the pet to be on the bed and another does, then there is a clear issue that should probably be resolved. They also go on to say that some couples closed the door on their pets during sex, and their advice has always been to avoid allowing pets to sleep in between two people, as physical touch during sleep is crucial for a good marriage.

At the end of the day, whether you enjoy having your canine friend curled up with you under the covers while you watch another episode of Stranger Things or you prefer their companionship snuggled up next to your feet while you sip on a cup of tea and enjoy a few chapters of 50 Shades of Grey, it seems that both of these options are still quite culturally acceptable. I don’t think I will be pushing my own pup over the edge of the bed anytime soon, though.

- D. J.

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