This week’s Best Pet Practice deals with sharing your bed with your pets. Cuddling up with your furry best friend can be cozy and comforting for everyone. However, it can also accidentally foster some bad habits. Read this post from new SPS team member Jonathan to get the low-down on sharing your sleeping space.
Little Chipper wants to sleep with you. It’s hard to deny those innocent, dilated eyes and, quite frankly, many dog owners make no hesitation to invite their pal to hop up and snuggle under the covers. The cuteness of a canine cuddle-buddy is undeniable, but you may be doing yourself a disservice by sleeping with your dog. There is no sweeping consensus of whether sharing the bed with your dog is a good or bad idea. Rather, like many pet practices, the right decision must be made on a case-by-case basis. Here are some key considerations to factor into your next slumber party.
- Quality of sleep. Some new pet owners struggle with insomnia for months before they finally realize that Little Chipper is the source of the problem. You may not be aware that your dog’s subtle movements throughout the night are robbing you of precious deep-sleep cycles. On the other hand, some humans find it easier to fall asleep next to a warm, snoozing ball of fur. Remember – your dog gets to sleep all day – so make the best choice for YOU.
- The future of the family. Are you planning to have kids? Going to adopt a Great Dane? That bed of your is going to start to fill up real quick. And we all know that once Little Chipper gets comfortable he isn’t going anywhere. My advice is to plan ahead and don’t let your dog get accustomed to something that will change, unless you want to experience some truly sleepless nights. Personally, I let my dog sleep with me once or twice a week (only when he is extra cute) and the rest of the time he sleeps in the crate. This approach will allow my family to grow without any devastating ambushes to my dog’s routine.
- Minimizing stress. We’re talking about dog stress. Little Chipper likes to make you happy (that’s why you got him, right?), so if when he licks your face at 5 AM you wake up and make coffee and take him for a walk, that’s great. If you scold him and push him off the bed, then we have TWO unhappy animals. Maintaining a positive relationship between you and your dog is simply the most important thing you can do as a parent. So, think about which scenario will make you the most likely to praise your dog and the least likely to get mad or frustrated. Keep in mind that the crate is NOT a jail cell. In fact, the crate is a place of peace and refuge that your dog will come to love, if you give him or her the chance.
As always, be patient and keep the love flowing. If you sleep for eight hours a day (ideal, I know) then Little Chipper will spend one-third of his life adhering to your nighttime routine. So, be thoughtful with your planning and choose the solution that is best for the whole family. Sweet dreams!