Should Your Dog Sleep in Bed With You?

We get it! Who can resist snuggling up with their pooch? But is it okay to let your dog sleep in your bed? We look at the benefits and drawbacks, with experts’ advice on how to do it right.

large dog resting, pampered, pampered in the arms of its owner in the bedroom at night
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If you love to snuggle with your beloved pooch, you might let your dog sleep in bed with you — or you may be considering it. In which case, you’ve got plenty of company. A 2022 survey of 1,000 dog owners in the U.S. by found that 76% allow their dogs to sleep on their beds with them. And nearly a third of married pet owners say they disagree with their spouses about whether or not to let Rover sleep on their bed.

Naturally, there are pros and cons to sleeping with your cherished canine companion. Let’s start with the upsides.

The perks of sleeping with your dog

When you let your dog sleep with you, “you’re building and maintaining a strong bond — it’s a co-bonding thing,” says Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., a professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and author of Dogs Demystified: An A-to-Z Guide to All Things Canine.

Here are some other noteworthy benefits:

They naturally provide emotional support

The 2022 survey found that the primary reason people co-sleep with their dogs is to ease feelings of stress, anxiety, and loneliness. There’s a physiological basis for this: “Having a warm body to cuddle releases oxytocin — what's commonly known as the love hormone,” says Jade Wu, Ph.D., a behavioral sleep medicine psychologist and author of Hello Sleep: The Science and Art of Overcoming Insomnia Without Medications. “This makes us feel good and safe.”

They can provide a sense of warmth and comfort in bed

In the 2022 survey, 56% of married pet owners reported that sharing a bed with their partner and dog enhances their sleep quality (though 33% claim they get a better night’s rest when they share their bed with just their dog). Women especially may likely benefit: In a study in a 2018 issue of the journal Anthrozoös, women found sharing a bed with a dog less disruptive than sharing a bed with a human — and having a canine bed partner was associated with stronger feelings of comfort and security.

A dog’s presence may ease chronic pain

Chronic pain and sleep can have a troubled relationship: Pain can disturb sleep, and poor sleep can exacerbate chronic pain. Research has found that sleeping with a pet dog is associated with maintaining a regular sleep schedule, distraction from worry at night, and greater physical comfort among people with chronic pain. All of these factors could help people with chronic pain gain better snooze control.

You’ll know if something is wrong with your pup

Whether your dog sleeps in your bed or their own space in your bedroom, “you’ll be able to sense if something isn’t right — if your dog doesn’t feel well or had a bad dream,” Bekoff says. If your dog is sick during the night, you can get up and tend to their needs or seek emergency medical care during the night if it’s serious. If your dog has a nightmare, the sound of your voice and some gentle shushing can help soothe them back to sleep.

The possible drawbacks of sleeping with your dog

Inviting your pup into your bed isn’t for everyone. Depending on how soundly you and your dog sleep, among other factors, you may or may not make ideal bedfellows. Here’s why:

Your dog’s nighttime movements could disrupt sleep

Research reveals that sharing a bed with a pet is associated with lower sleep efficiency (the percentage of time a person sleeps), increased awakenings, and sleep disturbances related to the pet’s movements. One of the reasons for these problems is while many people have monophasic sleep patterns (meaning a single block at night), “dogs sleep polyphasically [in segments that are spread across 24 hours] and can have up to three sleep-or-wake bouts throughout the night, disrupting the sleep of their human co-sleepers when they wake,” according to research in a 2021 issue of the journal Sleep Health. This is a risk, especially for (human) light sleepers.

Your dog could heat things up in bed

If you’re in close proximity to each other during the night, your dog’s body heat could spread to you and cause you to overheat. “Sometimes you might even have nightmares or lighter sleep because your dog is interfering with your body's freedom of movement and temperature regulation,” Wu warns.

Dogs can bring dirt, dander, and other unwanted elements into bed

In the 2022 survey, 45% of the people who choose to keep their dogs off their beds do so because they’re concerned about germs and cleanliness, while 40% do it because they’re worried about fleas and ticks. There are other health-related reasons to consider keeping Bowser out of your bed. A study in a 2022 issue of the journal Pathogens found that the vast majority of dogs who slept in their humans’ beds tested positive for Enterobacteriaceae — fecal bacteria that can be transmitted to humans from their fur or footpads — which can cause gastrointestinal, urinary tract, respiratory, or skin infections in people. Fleas were found in 7% of the dogs’ favorite sleeping spots.

Experts warn sharing a bed with your dog may be problematic for people with allergies, especially if they’re reactive to pollen or dander or have asthma. Sleeping in close proximity to your pooch — and all the potential irritants on their fur or skin — could aggravate allergy or asthma symptoms.

So, should you let your dog sleep with you?

Ultimately, deciding whether to let your dog sleep in your bed is highly personal. “If you like it and your dog likes it, do it,” Bekoff advises. “If you like it and your dog doesn’t, don’t do it. And if your dog likes it but you don’t, don’t do it.” Whatever you decide, maintain consistency because dogs thrive on routine.

If you give it a try, here are some good ways to “establish rules of the bedroom,” as Bekoff puts it, that will help set you and your fur baby up for sweet dreams:

Train your dog how to behave in the bedroom

First, teach them that they need to be invited onto your bed. Also, designate where your dog should sleep rather than giving them a free run of the bed. “Show them where they can sleep,” Bekoff says. “It’s place learning — they learn exactly where to go, where their spot is.” With a small dog or an old dog, you might want to put a dog pillow on top of the bed to create a sense of comfort and safety.

Stay up to date on your pet’s preventative medications

Flea, tick, and heartworm prevention can help mitigate unwanted crawlers in your bed.

Create a tuck-in ritual

No, you don’t need to read your pup a bedtime story; petting him and saying goodnight will do. You may want to take off your dog’s collar for the night — think of it like removing your watch or earrings before turning in — which will prevent the collar from jingling if your dog gets up or shakes during the night.

Change your sheets regularly

That means at least once a week. This will minimize dirt, dander, germs, and fur from accumulating on your bed. Also, keep in mind that limiting your dog to being on top of the covers will help keep your bed cleaner and minimize fur and dander from getting trapped under the covers. Consider investing in a mattress protector to extend the life of your mattress by protecting it from dander, dirt, and water.

Consider relocating your dog

If bed-sharing isn’t working for you — because you’re frequently woken up or disturbed when your dog gets fidgety or moves around — find another slumber spot for Skippy. You don’t necessarily have to banish your dog from the bedroom. Instead, you can bring a dog bed or pillow into a safe, comfortable spot in your bedroom. That way, your dog will know you’re nearby. “Research actually shows that having a dog in the same room, but not on your bed, is the best set-up,” Wu says, “as this gives you the benefits of having proximity to your dog without the sleep disturbance that comes from their movements or noises.”