Is it ok to sleep with your dog?

The phrase “three-dog night” is believed to have derived from an Aboriginal practice of sleeping with dingoes for warmth. The coldest nights required three furry companions. Dogs have provided heat and affection for thousands of years, and many of the concerns people raise about sleeping with dogs aren’t supported by science.

Some scientific research even suggests that sleeping with your dog can benefit your health. Being near dogs can ease symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, lower blood pressure, mitigate anxiety and depression and improve your rest.

Behavioural research long ago debunked the idea that allowing a dog in your bed will turn your pet into a domineering, poorly-behaved problem. That belief was based on dominance theory, which science long ago decided was rubbish. It’s also unlikely that your pet will transmit a disease to you, especially if you keep up with vet visits.

That’s not to say that everyone should invite their dogs into their beds. Veterinarians advise that small children should not sleep with dogs because even gentle, well-behaved canines may not be comfortable with a child’s behaviour. Adults should always supervise dogs and small kids, and that rule does not disappear in the bedroom.

If you sleep with a partner, both of you should agree about having a dog share your bed. And some dogs may snore or otherwise disrupt your sleep, so you may want to watch your pet snooze before issuing an invite to your place. One of our walkers looked forward to sleeping with her new dog until she tried it. The dog was a large, muscular breed that enjoyed dozing right next to her owner, who felt like she was lying next to a brick wall all night.

Your dog should be able to sleep independently before you consider having her join you in your bed. Some puppies are so small that they are at risk of being crushed by a sleeping adult. Also, if you sleep with a puppy that is not completely house-trained, you risk an accident in the bed. Finally, you may decide you don’t like sleeping with your dog after all, so if it has previously learned to sleep in a crate or in its own bed, it will be easier for you return to that sleeping arrangement.