Dog Myth, Never Let Your Dog on The Bed, Debunked

She Can Spoon AND Play the WII! What a Great Multi-tasker She Will Be!

I am preparing myself for hate mail as I write this…some might say I am contradicting years of dog training theory, but I propose that not all dogs should be treated the same and not all owners need to adhere to the same dog training rules and I know some will comment with kudos for finally being able to admit to a behavior we are hard wired NEVER to do with our dogs.

I spoon with my dog!  That’s right, and I am not ashamed of it!  For 9 years he was the only thing that spooned with me.  I use to call him my soul mate and was certain I had been cursed.  I told people, sure my soul mate is big and hairy and he sniffs the butts of other people and animals, but everyone has their down falls!

I am happy to report I have now found my human soul mate, and we will be married soon!  But, when he is off working at night, or when I need some comfort and unconditional love I still spoon with my dog.  He likes it almost as much as I do 😉 ha ha!  We have had a very special connection from the moment I brought him home, unlike any other animal or person I have ever known.  He is a part of my soul!

Dog training protocol of old would say, NEVER  EVER to bring my dog up on the bed or furniture with me!  Breaking this cardinal rule could create a dog that doesn’t know his place in the pack!  If I’m not careful I could incur a bite!

Don’t get me wrong, I respect the dog trainers of old and I absolutely subscribe to the dog training theory of keeping dominant dogs off of beds and furniture.  Dogs that challenge their dog obedience commands and the dog pack pecking order don’t deserve the privilege of getting on the sofa, much less the bed.

Not All Dogs Are the Same!

I don’t believe in one theory fitting all dogs.  I believe in developing a dog training or puppy training program that fits the individual and the specific needs of the human, family, and their particular dog or dogs.

This specific dog of mine has NEVER, EVER challenged my authority!  Other than knowing where all my buttons are and occasionally giving me the “I’m too cute to have to listen” big brown doggy eyes, he has always been accepting of his place way down in the pack pecking order.  He has always listened to his commands at home and away from home.

Bringing him up on the bed (typically he lays at my feet) or the sofa or encouraging him up to give me some doggy snuggles and “sugar” has never changed this fact.  He simply has no desire to vie for alpha dog title, in fact, he is happy to be lowest man on the totem pole no matter what other person, dog or animal I bring into my house!  He once even let baby squirrels crawl and try to nurse in his fur!  He has never shown me any aggressive tendencies.

Why should I make him adhere to philosophies of old when there are no bad behaviors or conflicts within our relationship or in our home?  I like spooning with him!

A Word of Caution

If your dog is a dominant dog, if he tends toward aggression, if he demands you do things for him throughout the day, or demands that you stop doing certain things; giving him these types of privileges and affection without making him work for it is a recipe for disaster!

If you are unsure, ask yourself:

  • Has your dog ever growled at you; even if it has been over his food bowl, rawhide, or trimming his nails?
  • Does your dog demand your attention and affection?
  • Is your dog jealous of other members of the family and has he ever growled at them?
  • Does your dog ever get snappy or irritated with you if you ask him to move or interrupt him?
  • Does your dog ignore his dog obedience commands (Sit, Down, Come, Quiet) most of the time?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, your dog has not earned the benefit of being on the furniture!  And, you should only show him affection and attention after he has performed an obedience command!

When your dog listen’s to you 90% of the time he can gain more rights but if he has ever shown aggression, snappiness, irritation towards you or anyone else in the family he needs to stay off of the furniture and out of your bed, for good!

I have a female dog who’s behavior is a little more questionable than my old male dog, and as of right now she has not earned the ability to snuggle in the bed or spoon with me, she might misunderstand her role in our relationship and I am not going to take that risk.  As she ages, I will continually determine what benefits are appropriate for her based on her ability to listen to and not challenge me.

Take your dog seriously!  Dogs kill people each year, and I have heard and read about people who have been mauled and killed in their beds because they didn’t take their dog’s previous warnings seriously!  Safety and respect are the most important facets to living with any animal.

Giving My Old Man a Snout Kiss, YES I Kiss His Snout Too!

In order to create a dog I enjoy and a dog that I can trust I work on my dog’s training skills every day.  Aim for at least 15 minutes of practice.  We go outside and work on formal commands, like Heel, Stay, and Focus and I also work with them randomly throughout the day inside the house anytime I bestow treats or affection. They not only enjoy this daily training they look forward to it, and so do I!

All dogs are not created equally, even dogs in the same family can and should be treated differently according to their temperaments and their willingness to listen to you and perform obedience when asked.

Most dogs have innate temperament traits, and some dogs simply never have a desire to usurp your leadership as long as you are a fair, consistent and kind leader.  Knowing I can indulge in a little dog spooning occasionally when he or I need comfort makes me happy!

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  1. Jan Musgrove says:

    I come from a long line of ‘Vets’ who didn’t adhere much to the ‘old’ advise. My grandfather used to sleep in the kennel with an animal post surgery so the animal had company!!! He always said it was a two-way street – he needn’t worry, and the animal needn’t be alone!

    ALL rules are meant to be broken… some just need the ‘ever-loving’ ground out of them!


  2. Nicole says:

    Great post.
    I dont let my dogs on the sofa but only because I know Griffen will sit on me if I do and he snores too loudly for sleeping in my bed. But I do get a little frusterated when I hear trainers say no dogs should be aloud on the furniture.


  3. I agree, every dog is different. Our dogs are members of our family and we allow them on the furniture, but they also need to know the lines… if we tell them to get down, they need to get down.
    I think the days of considering dogs the lower members of the pack may be obsolete.


  4. Jana Rade says:

    I can appreciate the “place in the pack” theory. I think that with a few rules this is not a problem. Our guys are allowed on furniture, always have been and they are great guys.


  5. kblover says:

    Here, here!

    I let my dog up on the bed, on my chair (in fact, it’s on cue), jump on me on invitation, etc. I just trained him to get off, stop jumping, and to wait for invitation (except during play).

    I’m not a big believer in dominance, personally, when it comes to dog->human relationships. I think most of what’s called “dominance” is behavior that’s never been controlled or has been allowed so, of course, the dog will do it. The dog isn’t plotting an owner’s demise, etc, and I certainly don’t think he’s like “today, the bed, tomorrow, the whole house! Are they even capable of such lines of thought?”

    I agree with the poster that said to just set rules, be consistent with them, and teach them well, and people will be fine. I think the problem isn’t dominant dogs, but inconsistent (or unestablished) rules, and relating to dogs as if they are human – not explaining the rules in ways the dogs can grasp (i.e. training)


  6. Minette – My wife is the owner of Lilly and Abbie Dog beds so I can give you a multitude of reasons for not doing what your doing – but you hit on the “heart cord”. You should always follow your heart. So damn the criticism, full speed ahead.


  7. Ginette says:

    I have 2 (big) dogs and they have always slept with me. In the day time they don’t go unless I’m in bed and tell them it’s ok. They cuddle up with me on the sofa. They don’t even fight about it, they take their turn to come cuddle up. I have no problem with that. When I tell them it’s time to go down they do it without a fuss. So I don’t see anything wrong with that at all


  8. Stephen Popken says:

    All the risks whether it be health or behavioral should be a good reason not to let pets in bed with you. I don`t have any ,but my wife has 4 and she would rather they sleep with her than me.I started sleeping in another bed after I found 2 ticks in my hair.So for you ani mal lovers out there. Are your pets more important than your spouse is?After all you married in sicknessand health to them not your pets.


    Minette Reply:

    Some people have no problem sharing their bed. This is a relationship problem, not a dog training problem.


    Conbfos Reply:

    My husband snores, the dog doesn’t. Sorry, but he sleeps in the other bedroom (or I end up there cause I can’t sleep).


  9. Ian Henderson says:

    Since 2002, my wife and I have raised Guide Dog pups and one of the rules was never to let them on the bed or furniture in the year we have them. It is a rule that has rarely been observed in our house once the appropriate obedience behaviour has been demonstrated. Fortunately we have a queen sized bed so when we had brother and sister yellow labrador retrievers recently there was still enough room for me when I came to bed after my wife and 110 pounds of lab were in/on the bed. Except for one the rest have graduated as Guide Dogs after completing their intense five months training when they leave our home. Breaking that rule hasn’t harmed their other trining or understanding of their place in our society as working/loving dogs.


    Minette Reply:

    Shhhh your secret is safe with me!

    We had the same rule when I trained service dogs, although I adhered to it in case their owner could not have them in bed.

    But the night before I would place them, I would always let them snuggle in bed with me as a last goodbye and hello to their new lives 🙂


  10. Margaret says:

    I have had many wonderfull dogs in my life, each one was very special to me. Some were rescue dogs, like my Muffy. The groomer I was going to asked me one day…would you like a 1yr old white Poodle?She told me that the woman who owened him didn’t want him any more because he was no longer a puppy.How cruel I thouhgt, would she have given away one of her children? Muffy lived a happy life with me for 15 yrs.
    After Muffy died I was so distraught, thought this is too painful and decided not to get another dog.
    Several years went by, a friend of mine bought a Lassa Apso and he told me that their were more puppies for sale. When I went to the owners house and saw all these little beauties, only one came over to greet me, she was perfect, all black with a white star on her forehead. I called her Stella…she was a grand and loving dog for 15 1/2 yrs.
    Years went by and I saw a friend carring a puppy. We started talking about the puppy, “MIdnight” she called him because he was all black.
    She told me there were three more puppies, so I went to see the owner.
    The man wanted to get rid of them because the Mother ran dry and couldn’t feed the 5 1/2 week old puppies. Suzy is all black with white chin and she is still going strong at 9 yrs old.
    The purpose in teling about my wonderful dogs is that I had no trouble training any of my dogs.All I had to do was say yes or NO, come, sit or let’s go out etc. in a calm loving tone of voice.


  11. Subaida A. Lineses says:

    Chloe and SD slept with for more than a year now.. It give me comfort that they are my alarm clock for my dawn prayer.


  12. Sandra says:

    I am a dog trainer with 4 dogs with a cumulative weight of ~300 pounds…all 4 dogs, 2 cats, my husband and myself squeeze happily into our shared bed every night 🙂 As long as everyone is well cared for, contamination is kept to a minimum, and the dogs understand their place well enough to get off the bed when asked, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to “chill with the pack.” Great article. I’m glad someone is finally saying it out loud!


  13. Tony says:

    On the couch o.k. And on the bed Sunday mornings when we have a lie in. If one of us is unwell – treatment consists of chicken broth, rest in bed with Rolli in attendance – really the only time he insists on being on the bed.


  14. Virginia says:

    Always have had a lay down on the couch with my Boston/Rat Terrier, Babette. Daddy doesnt want her on the bed, so we snuggle on the couch for about 30 minutes most afternoons. When she was quite young she challenged me, and I straightened her out with my voice only…she was a quivering crybaby after all….never had to speak harsh again. She is my lovebug and after that all her training came very easily for her. Have some respect for your animals, try to see it their way, but always be the boss. I am ultimately responsible for her well being, and others who come in contact with her..


  15. deb says:

    I got a ‘3 year old’ stray years ago. she would sleep on the bed tucked behind my knees. In cold weather she came up to nudge my shoulder and be let under the quilt where she again slept with her nose tucked behind my knees. Never worked out how she breathed. Used to have growling fits in her sleep where the growling grew more intense til she would leap up with a snarl to face me, at which point a puzzled look crossed her face like ‘hang on. who are you’. Over the years I learnt not to go to bed less than an hour after feeding, and not feed cheaper food (both of which made the issue worse). On a bad night she needed a good belly rub and to be made to get up and go out, after which she was fine. Not all growling is a sign of lack of respsct for the recipient. I admit I got a small nip 3 times when she didn’t quite stop soon enough, each after my boyfriend had been round the previous night. When I spoke to him on the phone he said he meant to tell me she bit him but she didn’t mean to


    Minette Reply:

    Biting is not respectful.

    AND I certainly wouldn’t have a dog that growled at me in my bed!


    deb Reply:

    Perhaps you misunderstood. She was not growling at me but having nightmares brought on by digestive problems. When she leapt up to face me, she always looked totally startled to see me, and lay back down seeming confused. If I touched her to wake her up when the growling started, she’d wake with a start, look at me and go back to sleep if I let her. I soon learnt to make her get up and go toilet first or she’d start it up again. After a toilet trip I’d get a good nights sleep. The growling would occur whether she was in bed or sleeping on the other side of the room so I’d still have to take her out. Don’t recall her ever growling except while asleep.


  16. Ladywolf says:

    Ironic that I accepted a rescue dog as a pet so it would cuddle with me at night only to learn that the “experts” say no dogs on the bed because of (list stupid reason here).

    I don’t care if my dog think’s it’s the alpha dog or not, as long as he goes outside and doesn’t have any behavioral problems.

    I looked around the internet on potty training articles and also read some dog training sites and they all said “do not sleep with your dog”.

    Since I’ve gotten this dog, I am calmer, sleep better, happier and have lower blood pressure. So if my dog wants to think it’s king of the castle, bring in on!


    Minette Reply:

    As long as you aren’t having behavior problems or aggression or potty training issues then there is no reason not to. However I do still recommend crating on occasion for the safety and happiness of your dog.


  17. Dave says:

    I would be too concerned about fleas, ticks and other nasties to share my bed with a dog! There are so many toxins on the dog’s feet and in the dog’s mouth that can be passed to Humans, it really isn’t worth the risk. I recently had 10 days of a very severe Campylobacter infection because I let our dog lick my face, I’d rather not go through that again!


    Minette Reply:

    My dogs are clean and healthy not a flea or tick to be found because I use flea and tick medications and keep my dogs clean.


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