Should My Dog Sleep In The Bed

Can My Dog Sleep in the Bed?

Classic Question:  Can my dog sleep in the bed?

You might be surprised that my answer is sometimes, yes.   My dogs sleep in my bed with me.   It’s one of my favorite “pack” times.   But right now, it’s just me and the dogs.     Another person, might make we rethink that.   And then for me, it would be yes, you’re allowed up, by invitation only, and only until lights out.

A dog in the bed can certainly affect the quality of your sleep.  You will never have enough covers or you will pinned in and can’t move.  And let’s not even talk about how much space you don’t get on the king-size bed.

The real issues about whether you dog should be allowed on your bed is about the dog’s behavior.  The privilege this gives them and the state of mind they have about it.

My answer when asked if dogs can sleep in the bed is yes, ONLY if your dog is very well-balanced, very well behaved, and listens well.

So let’s explore that a little bit and set some rules:

Attitude:  Dog with aggressive behaviors, high anxiety, bratty, snotty attitudes will not be allowed on the bed.  Period.   This includes leash reactivity, food bowl guarding, inappropriate behaviors anywhere in his life that demonstrates a lack of respect for leadership..  And most importantly, if the dog guards you from your significant other or other dogs – he’s out!   This privilege may come back in the future, but not for a long time of proving the attitude is long gone.    So he sleeps in his crate or on a designated dog bed, even if that’s in your room.  

Did you know it’s more powerful to have your dog “know” to stay on his dog bed or the floor and do it, than to contain him in the crate where he has not other choices. Let him try to sneak into bed and prove you will hold him accountable.

Invitation Only:  Train your dog to wait with 4 on the floor until you give him a permission to come up on the bed.   It’s as simple as say “ok, bed” or “ok, up”.   If he gets up before you give permission, tell him “off” and guide him off the bed with a slip lead* during the teaching phase.  Have him sit or down and wait for the cue.  Rinse and repeat several repetitions at each opportunity over several days and he’ll soon get the idea.

No Play on the Bed:  This is a simple thing, but makes a big statement.   No zoomies on the bed, no toys, no bones, etc.   It’s for being calm, relaxed and settling down.   If your dog begins to get overly playful on the bed, remove them with the “OFF” command, and have them do to down stay for a few minutes – every single time.   You need to be clear, consistent and mean it when you say it.   After a few removals, the dog will get the message that if he wants to stay on the bed, he needs to stay calm.

Off on Command:  In addition to an invitation to get on the bed, you want your dog to get own on command.  No exceptions.  You need to mean it.   And he needs to not be grumpy about it, even on those cold mornings under the covers.

And most importantly if your dog does have permission to be in the bed – Don’t hog the covers You’d be surprised at how many people won’t disturb the dog’s comfort even if they are. Come on friends — claim your bed, claim your covers and let the dog be the one to adjust.

In all seriousness, we love to love our dogs.  And it’s more for us that they cuddle up on the bed or the couch.  Sure some of them enjoy being next too us, and some like to burrow under the blankets.   But this is a privilege only for a balanced dog.    And if at any time behavior starts to regress, back to the crate you go.


*Remember, we never want to reach for a dog’s collar as a means to correct them – especially early in your training relationship with them (ie a new dog, a new foster, etc) or if they think they are in trouble.

LeadershipDana Brigman