Should You Let Your Dog Sleep w/ You?


Stanley Coren PhD., DSc, FRSC Canine Corner

Should You Let Your Dog Sleep in Bed With You?

A new study offers guidance on the choice to snuggle up with a favorite canine.

Pyschology Today - Posted Sep 14, 2017


A recent study in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, deals specifically with this topic.

Several surveys have shown that roughly 60 percent of all dog owners allow their dogs to sleep on their bed with them. Dog owners give a variety of reasons for sharing beds with their canine companions, one of the most common being that dogs are warm — it just feels good to snuggle up to a dog on a cold night. In fact, dogs have a body temperature three to six degrees higher than our own, making them efficient bed warmers. The term "three dog night" comes from the Canadian maritime provinces, where it was standard practice to take your dog (or dogs) to bed with you on a cold night to help keep you warm.

Dogs also seem to help us relax. A dog's rhythmic breathing, when one lies next to you, can help lull you to sleep. In addition, being near a dog increases our flow of oxytocin, a hormone associated with affection and happiness.

A third reason for sleeping with a dog is that that they can make us feel safe. Many of us feel somewhat vulnerable when we lie in bed, alone and in the dark. The presence of a dog, regardless of its size, can give us a sense of protection.

The major reason medical practitioners don't want you to sleep with your dog is that they may disturb a good night's rest. In a survey, 53 percent of pet owners reported that their dogs tend to wake them at least once on any given night. Since sleep deprivation, no matter its cause, can have negative physical and mental effects, the conservative recommendation from the medical community has been to simply eliminate this source of sleep disturbance by removing the dog from your bed.

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