My Dog Is Sleeping in My Bed. Is that OK?
Whether or not you want your dog sleeping in your bed is a personal decision. However, if you decide to allow your dog in your bed, it should be on your rules, not his.
Letting Your Dog Sleep in Your Bed
Many trainers believe in strict rules such as no pets on furniture, no meals before owners and no exiting doors before owners. However, these trainers are becoming fewer because behaviorists now know that what the rules are don’t matter if there are rules.
If you love to cuddle with your dog, allow him in bed. Make sure there are other rules. If you don’t want him jumping on you, don’t allow it. If you want him to sit while you prepare his food, enforce it. Consistency is the key to having a healthy relationship with your dog. If you don’t want him on the furniture, enforce it every time. If you don’t mind him in your bed, find another rule to enforce every time.
Make sure everyone in your family is on the same page. If you want the dog in the bed but your spouse doesn’t, you need to reach an agreement. It will be very hard for your dog to understand why he is allowed in the bed sometimes but others.
Some owners want their dog on the bed only when invited. Maybe you want him up there while you read but you want him down while you sleep. That’s fine. Just teach the command.
Pat the bed and tell your dog “up.” Reward. Now get off the bed and tell him “off.” Use a hand gesture or pat your legs to encourage him. If he gets down, reward him. If he has trouble getting off, leave a small leash on him while you are home. Pull him off, lead him from the bedroom and close the door for a few minutes to give timeout.
When Not to Allow Your Dog in Bed
If your dog shows any signs of aggression, he should not be allowed in bed. If your dog snaps or growls when touched or moved from the furniture, keep a small leash on him when you are home. You do not want to get into a physical confrontation with an aggressive dog. Use the leash to remove him from the furniture calmly and reward him when he is down. Don’t get angry. Remain calm.
With this type of dog, furniture is not the only problem. Handfeed your dog for at least a month, making him work for his food. Teach him commands, such as off, come, watch and down, and give him a handful of food each time he performs the command. Make him sit do a trick before you pet him or play games with him. This will help strengthen your relationship and possibly get him back in bed someday.
One of the joys of having a dog is having a companion with whom to cuddle. If you decide to allow your dog in bed, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, if your dog starts to take advantage of that privilege, do a little training.