There are several good reasons why you should rather have your dog or cat sleep in a separate area of the house. One is that sleeping with your dog or cat can interrupt your sleep. Animals have a different sleep-wake cycle than humans, so your pets could be up at 3 a.m. and disrupt your sleep in the process.
It’s hard to blame you for thinking that it is OK to let your pet dog sleep in your bed. After all, you may be in a bad relationship that you’d rather have your cute poodle beside you than your beau. But is it really a good idea to have your pets sleep in bed with you?
Sleeping with pets isn’t really unusual, especially for most Americans. The American Pet Products Association once had a survey that showed half of dogs sleep with their owners. More specifically, it showed that 62 percent of small dogs sleep with their owners, and that even 1 out of 3 large dogs are beside their owners when they sleep. And it’s not only dogs which are sleeping with their adult owners, as the survey found that 6 out of 10 cats in the country doze off with their masters.
But is it really safe to let your pet sleep in your bed?
Effects on Your Sleep
Most experts agree that if you want to have a good slumber, you’d rather have your pet sleep away from your bed.
Dogs in particular have sleep habits that can interrupt your sleep cycle, which could make you cranky the following morning.
Animals and humans don’t have the same sleep and wake cycles. For most cats, the wee hours of the morning may seem like the best time to pounce on the feet of their owners. The same goes for dogs. And subtle disturbances like that clanking of the tags on the pet’s collar can wake you up.
Your dog may also keep you up all night because it hogs too much of the bed. Or it may snore, or simply smell bad.
Remember that your bedroom should be your sanctuary. It should be a place for two things only—sleep and sex. Hence, having your pet in your bed may affect the way you perceive your bedroom.
Your immune system could also be affected if you continue to sleep with your pets. One study conducted by the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center showed that 50 percent of pet owners are disturbed by their furry friends in one way or another.
And we’re not even talking of the allergens that pets carry. Pets shed dander, which can either be hair or dead skin cells that can trigger asthma attacks.
And even if you’re not allergic to pet dander, you must realize that your dog or cat is exposed to certain things that you can be allergic to, like pollen that will stick in its fur. In turn your pet brings these to your bed, which could aggravate your symptoms.
Sleeping with your pet can also make you sick. Certain infections like chagas disease and cat-scratch disease can be spread from animals to persons. There are also life-threatening infections such as plague and internal parasites that may be transmitted by sleeping with your pet.
How to Train Your Pet
So what should you do in case you’ve been sleeping with your dog in your bed for a significant period of time?
One way to do so is to give the animal a separate area for sleeping, preferably near your bed. A clean and soft blanket near your bed can serve as a good bed for your dog or cat.
Use positive reinforcement techniques to encourage your pet to sleep on it. And authoritatively say “no” to your dog when it growls or nips. You can give a toy or bone to keep your buddy contented.
As you can see, letting your furry friend sleep with you in your bed isn’t the brightest of ideas. But you can still train your dog or cat to sleep in a spot that’s near your bed.