During in-home consults owners often ask me if they should allow their dogs to sleep with them in their beds. Many times; with guilty looks on their faces, they say “I know I shouldn’t do it, but I let him sleep in my bed,” or “Is it ever okay for a dog to sleep in the bed?” In a perfect world, I like to consult with owners when doing the first introduction of a new dog into their homes. Keep in mind, though, I usually end up in someone’s house to help correct unwanted dog behavior. So, should a dog sleep in his owner’s bed?

Yes and No.

If a dog has good behavior and is respectful to his family, he can sleep anywhere the parents allow. If he is respectful in all areas of the house, especially the bedroom, he can snuggle up wherever his he wants too. If, however, the dog is nipping (correcting) other family members or doesn’t pay attention to the parent’s guidance, he should not be allowed to sleep in the most coveted place in the house! Parents should provide respectful, loving guidance to kids and dogs alike; but dogs that don’t yet see adults as parents or don’t view children as highly-valued members of the family, should not be sleeping on their beds.

If your dog jumps up on the bed and then growls when you or another family member starts to get in…he has claimed the bed; he believes he is the leader in that bed. As common sense prevails, he should not be rewarded for his bad behavior by letting him sleep in the beds. Likewise, if a human child hits other kids with the toy drum sticks; he certainly won’t be playing with the drum again until he can show respectful behavior with the sticks. Then, and only then; does he get the privilege of beating those drums! Sleeping with your dog can be a very comforting thing for both dogs and humans. I say go ahead and enjoy it. But, it is a reward – a privilege for good behavior – not an entitlement simply for existing and being cute.