Think about your bedtime routine. You put on your PJs, brush your teeth, wash your face, maybe read a little. And then you pat your bed a few times to entice your dog or cat to join you. Maybe they're already soundly snoozing, so you slide under the covers trying your best not to disturb them. Sound familiar?
Or do you operate under a strict no-pets-in-the-bed rule? Both options are cozy in their own right. Sharing a bed with your pet is neither good nor bad.
Before you let your furry best friend in your bed or kick them out, consider the advantages and disadvantages of sleeping alongside your pet.
Pros of sharing your bed with pets
1. Your pets are unlikely to affect your quality of sleep
We hear some of you laughing, but the research says so! According to a Mayo Clinic study, your pet won’t affect your sleep any more than another person or situation. In the study, researchers found that when a dog was in the bedroom, both people and canines slept well. However, bed size, number of pets, and even pets that snore are all variables that may affect sleep disturbance.
2. Pets help us relax
One amazing benefit to owning a pet is their ability to calm us down. Petting your dog, cat, or critter is soothing. Sharing a bed can take that comfort to a new level.
A dog’s rhythmic breathing can help you unwind and lull you to sleep like your very own white noise machine. They can also make you feel safe and protected when sleeping close by. In those frigid winter months, they provide extra warmth. And, depending on how you prefer to sleep, they can be a great little spoon.
Bonus: All that snuggling also strengthens your bond.
3. You won’t lose your authority
There‘s a common misconception that to maintain dominance your dog shouldn’t sleep in your bed. This is a myth. Your authority doesn’t change if your dog snuggles up with you at night.
How your dog interacts with you isn’t about power. Sure, they may push boundaries at times, but sleeping in your bed isn’t about being top dog. It’s more likely they prefer to sleep on your bed because they like it (and love you).
Cons of sharing your bed with pets
1. Late-night party animals can affect shuteye
While the study found that pets won’t necessarily disturb you, that doesn’t mean they won’t wake you up on occasion.
Humans typically get all their sleep in one session, but dogs snooze on and off. And cats are crepuscular, meaning their peak hours of activity occur at dawn and dusk (this explains their craving for a late-night snack).
When pets are awake during the night, they may move around, become vocal, find something to chew, or try to steal some belly rubs. The activity could wake you up.
2. Canine gas (woof!)
Farting in bed happens. All that relaxing moves things around. If you're not offended by your dog's gas, we won't judge you!
3. You will no longer have a side
Be prepared to give up your coveted spot. Animals don’t understand how sacred spots are. Because it’s your favorite, that spot might also be their favorite.
Just as you move during the night, your pet will also adjust, roll over, and turn things around. You could wake up with a foot in your face or a cold, wet nose on your neck. But there’s nothing quite as special as waking up to your best friend, no matter who gets the bed.
Curious about other pet behaviors? Check out our Pet Behavior Library to learn more and brush up on training tips and tricks.
Don't share your bed with pets if ...
It's not always a good idea to share a bed with your pets. Allergies, fleas, ticks, and more might be good reasons to put a temporary hold on bed sharing, and in some cases, put a ban on the bed sharing all together.
Here are a few reasons it may not be a good idea to share a bed with your pet.
- Your pet isn't potty trained.
- Your pet is ill with vomiting and diarrhea.
- Your pet isn't on a preventative treatment for worms, mites, fleas, or ticks.
- Your pet is big and moves around a lot, enjoys a good stretch, or snores.
- You have allergies to your pet.
- You're already a light sleeper.
If you have serious health issues, ask your doctor if it’s safe for your pet to sleep in your bed.
Breaking the bed-sharing habit
If a pet is interfering with your sleep, you can transition them out of your bed or your room. Take it slow — an abrupt change won’t stick. If your dog sleeps in your bed, start by moving them to another spot in your room, like a chair, a bed meant for pets, or the floor.
This process is easier if you re-create what makes your bed so special. Pets like our beds for their height, the cozy comfort of blankets and pillows, and your body heat. Find a chair, some pillows (bonus points if they smell like you), and possibly a heater to simulate your body heat.