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Should You Let Your Dog Sleep With You?

It’s a personal preference, but here are the pros and cons.

by Karen B. London, PhD
Updated August 20, 2021
Woman and dog sleeping together in bed
Daniel Rodriguez / Adobe Stock

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Like humans, dogs are social animals. Most of them feel comfortable being near the rest of the family and that includes at nighttime. Indeed, 45 percent of people say they allow their dog to sleep in their bed, according to a survey by the American Kennel Club.

Many people have their dogs in their room on a dog bed, in a crate or on the floor by the bed. Others allow them the foot of the bed. Still others snuggle with their pup right next to them, even under the covers. They keep you cozy while making you feel safe, secure, and loved.

It’s a wonderful feeling to have dogs snuggle up at night, or even during a nap. But is it a good idea to let your dog sleep with you? Here are the pros and cons.

Advantages of Sleeping with Your Dog

There are many reasons to let your dog sleep with you: They are less likely to become stressed, either from being alone or in response to something startling, like lights from cars going by or a thunderstorm. In the morning, you’ll know when they have to go out right away — or if they are sleeping in that day.

If your dog is in or on your bed, any cold weather will seem a lot less harsh with a living furnace right next to you. Sharing sleep is one way to feel really close to each other, and that’s always a plus.  Some other reasons to let your dog sleep with you include because it...

  • Reduces depression

  • Promotes theta brainwaves

  • Increases sense of security

  • Eases insomnia

  • Maximizes comfort

  • Decreases loneliness

  • Improves sleep quality

  • Reduces stress

  • Lowers blood pressure

  • Strengthens your bond

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Disadvantages of Sleeping with Your Dog

On the downside, some people find a dog in their bed keeps them awake, either because the dog snores or because there is not enough room in the bed or enough covers to go around. It can cause considerable friction in a relationship if one member of a couple loves having a dog in the room or on the bed and the other person doesn’t. Others reasons to keep your dog out of your bed may include:

  • If your dog isn’t house trained

  • If you have severe allergies

  • If you are a light sleeper

  • If you have a new dog

  • If you or your dog have health issues or open wounds

(Although extremely rare, it’s possible to spread illness)

So, Should You Let Your Dog Sleep With You?

As with most things, it's a personal preference.

In some families, there are dogs with bed privileges and dogs who are given their own comfy bed or a spot on the rug. It’s up to you to make this important decision.

Sometimes size influences a dog’s sleeping position, with extra large dogs interfering too much with sleep. In other cases, it’s dogs’ behavior that determines whether or not they are welcome on the bed — for example a dog who is aggressive when woken up. Dogs who settle down and sleep calmly all night are welcome in the big bed while dogs who spend the night walking around or who mistake the comforter for a tug toy are more likely to find themselves sleeping on the floor.

I like having dogs sleep in my room, and I think it’s usually best for the dogs, too. Large dogs, dogs who hog the bed and dogs who crawl all over us at night have a standing invitation to enjoy a cozy dog bed on the floor next to us or the crate in our room. Little dogs, calm dogs and dogs who won’t impersonate a cat by trying to play with us in the middle of the night have usually been permitted on our bed.

Most people can enjoy the comfort and companionship of their dog throughout the night. But if sleep is evasive, you may want to take a closer look at what’s keeping you up at night.

Karen London holding up a small dog

Karen B. London, PhD

Karen B. London, Ph.D., is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral issues, including aggression, and has also trained other animals including cats, birds, snakes, and insects. She writes the animal column for the Arizona Daily Sun and is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University. She is the author of six books about training and behavior, including her most recent, Treat Everyone Like a Dog: How a Dog Trainer’s World View Can Improve Your Life.