We all love our furry creatures and treat them as family. They watch television with us, they play with us, and yes, many even sleep with us. In fact, half of the people in our country who own a dog also lets him or her sleep with them.
The bond created through sharing all these experiences is so strong, and sharing these activities are very meaningful to our dogs as well. But is there a reason we should draw a line when it comes to sharing our bed with them?
What are the risks, and do they outweigh the benefits? See for yourself and decide for yourself based on the following facts.
The Benefits of Sleeping With Your Pet
Dogs sleeping alongside humans is not a new concept. It has been practiced for centuries across multiple cultures for various reasons.
It is argued that for a well-adjusted and well-behaved dog, the benefits actually outweigh the cons. Sleeping alongside your dog and creating that bond has physical and mental health advantages for both you and your pet. These include:
There’s a reason that dogs are so great at keeping your feet warm on a cold winter’s night. Dogs have a body temperature three to six degrees higher than ours, which makes them perfect to snuggle with!
Since dogs are polyphasic sleepers, they sleep lighter and can detect any sound or sign of trouble. This often offers a sense of safety and security to us humans who sleep deeper and typically do not wake up at night. Such a sense of safety is anxiety-reducing, calming, and can be great for your sleep quality. We can relax knowing that dogs are on watch and on guard, even when they sleep.
Feel Happier and Healthier
Being close to your dog for extended periods of time increases the flow of the feel-good hormone called oxytocin, known for stimulating feelings of affection and happiness. Also, did you know that hanging with your dog can actually lower your heart rate? This is particularly helpful for people with high blood pressure and/or chronic anxiety, as lowering your heart rate leads to increased relaxation. What is also interesting is that studies show that your heartbeat synchronizes with your dog’s heartbeat over time.
The Risks of Sleeping With Your Pet
As helpful and meaningful as it can be to have your dog or dogs sleep by your side, there are noted risks as well.
The main reason why medical professionals have an issue with dogs in the bedroom is that due to dogs’ sleeping patterns, they are likely to disrupt sleep patterns, especially if the human has pre-existing sleep issues.
Even though it is a positive thing that dogs are polyphasic sleepers for safety and security purposes, the fact that they are polyphasic sleepers mean they wake up often and could wake up his or her human in the process. Since sleep disturbance is already a major issue in our country, some medical professionals fear that dogs sleeping in our beds only compounds the pre-existing issue.
Granting your dog this privilege may cause dominance or aggression issues, where your dog can become territorial over your bed. It is said to confuse their position in the ‘pack.’Remember that once you allow your dog onto your bed, even once, it is a commitment that is difficult to renege on. Be prepared to always allow your dog on your bed at night, once you have started to do so.
When paws do not get wiped off at the door, dogs can track dirt and allergens into your house and right onto your bed. This is particularly problematic for humans who already have allergies or asthma. Also, even if your dog is housebroken, that doesn’t mean it’s not impossible for your dog to have an accident in bed. Most of the time they can leak during their sleep. Leaking over time can seep into your mattress, either ruining your mattress or causing you to have to steam clean it regularly.
Now that you have the facts, it is your turn to decide if letting your pet sleep with you is right for you. If your dog is well behaved, and you don’t have sleep issues or have allergies, then letting your dog sleep with you may work.
But if you do have allergies and already have troubles sleeping, then you may want to reconsider. It all comes down to your unique relationship with your dog and what feels right!
- Laurie Larson