Is it okay if you let your dog sleep in your bed?
This is a frequent question I get from my clients. Most of them only want to do what is right and best for both themselves and their dog. Depending on who they ask opposing views seem to surface, leaving them more confused yet. Get the real scoop on having your dog share your personal bed and dispel some of those pervasive myths.
Will my dog become dominant if allowed to sleep in my bed?
Where your dog sleeps whether in a crate, on a comfy dog bed or in your bed doesn’t lead to dominance. Yet, I do understand why this myth is so believable to many. Some dogs come with guarding software already *in there* from the moment they are born.
We humans have gone to great lengths in breeding some dogs, for centuries literally, to guard. It’s not surprising at all that some dogs end up guarding things that were not necessarily intended. The typical things dogs tend to guard (shown by growling, barking and snapping) are food, toys, people and locations. Two of these can rear their ugly heads when your dog sleeps in your bed. But do remember, sleeping in your bed is NOT the cause of these behaviors.
The good news: guarding behaviors in dogs in the home are some of the simplest behavior problems to fix. You need a solid plan and consistent execution. We’ll get to that later in this article.
It doesn’t matter whether your dog sleeps in bed with you, sleeps in a crate or sleeps on her personal designated doggy bed. If your dog is a location guarder you could experience an aggressive response to you or another person approaching while your dog is at any of these coveted locations. So, if aggression will pop up regardless of where your dog sleeps, how on earth could it be attributed to sleeping in bed with you? Preferred resting places will often elicit an aggressive response from a dog that is a location guarder.
Guarding of People
Most dogs see the person that gives them meals, snacks, walks or things of great pleasure a treasured resource. Some dogs (not unlike kids) prefer not to share the giver of all great things. Whether kid or dog this is an expression of, hey she’s MINE! This shows up while in your bed together when someone else approaches the bed where you and your dog are lounging together. Again, this will also usually occur anywhere you and your dog are hanging out together. It could be on your bed, the sofa and would even show up if YOU crawled onto your dogs bed and slumbered with him there. That being the case, how could you letting your dog sleep in your bed with you be the cause of this behavior?
Location guarding and guarding of loved ones are commonly observed in some dogs. Allowing your dog on furniture or beds is not the cause, but often is where you’ll uncover the behavior problem exists for your dog.
What to do if your dog is guarding while in your bed?
First and foremost, you’ll want to stop the rehearsal of this aggressive behavior display and execute a behavior modification plan. The longer a behavior is rehearsed, the more it becomes habit and the longer it will take to replace that unwanted behavior with a new, more desirable habit.
The go to for well educated, high quality dog trainers is to change the emotional response of your dog to someone approaching you or your bed. Just like anything in changing behavior, especially emotionally charged behaviors, it will take practice and repetition.
Think about your own bad habits or personal behavior problems, are they easily changed for you without commitment? How about without a solid plan in place? Winging it often falls short for us and for our dogs. Your best route for treating aggressive displays in your dog is to seek out help from a certified professional. Commit to yourself and your dog to taking the time to overcoming such issues that rob you both of your joy together.
Your dog sleeps in your bed with no problems…
and you enjoy doggy snuggling time. In your home it’s your world, your joy and your choice! It will not lead to your dog being dominant over you (I promise), but it may lead to you losing your favorite spot in your bed. 😉 Enjoy your dog!
Until next time, Have Fun & Enjoy Your Dog!
Jody Karow – CTC
Dog Life Coach & Founder of Go Anywhere Dog™
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