Is it ever OK for your dog to sleep on your bed?

Kathleen Murray, Dog Behavior Specialist, joined Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio 1 to discuss whether it’s OK for dogs to sleep on the bed. Listen back above.

“It’s an incredibly individual thing,” says Kathleen. “It’s one of those six million dollar questions – the same as what do I feed my dog? – because everybody comes out throwing their own ideas of parenting and stuff. It’s a very individual thing.”

According to Kathleen, the type of dog you may have come into play when it comes to sleeping arrangements. While small, short-haired pups who rarely shed may cause few issues when snuggling into your sheets, larger dogs who lose hair may be a problem.

If you’re unsure as to where your dog should sleep (or having some heated debates with your partner) Kathleen recommends “thinking through the dog’s head”.

Dogs are naturally social animals who enjoy generally enjoy a lot of company, however, personality and background do come into play, meaning that your pet may like their own space when it comes to getting some shut-eye.

It may be worth taking notes of the dog’s habits in the evenings, to see whether they’re looking for company or enjoying their own space.

“There are rules to it,” adds Kathleen. “If you’re going to have the dog in your bed, it’s a good idea that the dog is relaxed before bed, that there is a winding down process because dogs settle a lot better the same as children do when you read them a story at night.”

While reading a bedtime story may not be on the cards for your pup’s evening routine, Kathleen suggests bringing them out for a walk to tire them out or to allow them to start napping and getting sleepy on the couch before heading to bed.

“Invite the dog onto the bed, don’t let the dog walk into the room and hop up by themselves when they feel like it,” notes Kathleen, explaining that pushy dogs may start to believe that the bed is theirs rather than yours.

On the other end of the sleeping scale, the pet expert says that some dog owners will put their dogs outside of the house at night – something she doesn’t recommend.

“I still can’t get my head around it because, especially in the winter time, why would you take a dog that’s been lying beside the stove all night, and is as warm as toast, and then you throw it out into a cold snowy night? I don’t understand that.”

When it comes to farm dogs or dogs that are kept outside day and night, they will likely have developed a coat of fur that defends them against the elements. However, if the dog is brought in during the day it will lose some of that fur due to the constant warmth, leaving it more vulnerable to the cold.

“If you’re taking your dog into the house and you’re having it in during the day, there is absolutely no reason why that dog can’t sleep in for the couple of hours that everybody is sleeping at night. They can sleep in a crate, they can sleep in a utility room, in a small bathroom – there’s a lot of options.”

Listen back to Kathleen Murray and Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio 1 above.

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