Many pet owners get into the habit of allowing the family dog to sleep in bed with them. You might tell yourself you're comforting the dog, making him feel safe and welcome or being a loving human companion. However, in the bigger scheme of your relationship with your dog, you’re actually doing more emotional damage to him than you would be if you put him in his own bed on the floor.
Co-Sleeping Behavioral Problems
When you let your dog sleep in bed with you, you're giving up some of your authority as pack leader. This can be tough for your dog to understand when he gets other commands during the day that he may view as conflicting. He may become less inclined to obey your commands, and he may increase marking his territory or showing aggression toward others who seek your attention.
The presence of another creature in your bed can throw off your sleeping patterns. If your dog gets up and moves around, hogs the bed or sleeps on top of you, it can make it difficult for you to get the rest you need. If you have more than one dog in the bed, or other household animals like cats vying for your bed space, it can lead to emotional nighttime conflicts and disrupted sleep. Further, being in your bed all night can make it more difficult for your pup to be away from you during the day, which can increase separation anxiety.
While it's best to not start the habit of allowing your dog into your bed, if you've already done it, it's a good idea to break the habit as soon as possible. Don't go cold turkey, or your pup will be upset and confused. Be prepared for some initial whining and crying. While this can be difficult, in the long run, it's the best move for everyone involved.
The Weaning Process
Find your dog a nice comfy bed and fill it with his favorite toys and bedding. You can even include a clothing item that smells like you for reassurance. Begin by putting the bed on your bed and placing your dog in it. If he sneaks out to snuggle with you, gently put him back and repeat the process. Gradually move the bed to the floor beside you and repeat the steps. Don't allow the dog to jump on your bed -- remove him every time he jumps up and give him a treat when he goes to his own bed. You'll eventually reach a point where your dog will stay in his own sleeping space.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.