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Is your dirty secret that you let your dog sleep in your bed? If so, you are not alone. More than half of dog owners admit to allowing their pooches to sleep with them. In fact, since the domestication of dogs, it has been a time-honored tradition to seek the psychological comfort that comes with having them near while asleep.
Is this practice good for the health and safety of your treasured canine, or should you boot your four-legged friend from your bed for his own good?
One concern for pet owners is that permitting your dog in the bed can cause negative behavioral problems, like territorial aggression.
Crating can provide the pet with close to the same level of safety that they feel when they hop up on your bed. If you populate the crate with well-loved toys and blankets with your scent, the dog is likely to come to love the crate, considering it a place of safety rather than a punishment.
Whether you choose to place the crate in your bedroom or in another room in your home, your pet needs to feel secure and comfortable. Their sleeping area should be dark. Ensure that the windows of the room you choose have quality drapery to block out exterior light. Your dog is more likely to sleep peacefully in a darkened room, and less likely to wake you up too early.
Dog expert Cesar Millan suggests that pups are often quite comfortable sleeping on the floor. Depending on the season and the length of hair of the breed, some dogs are just seeking out the coolest spot available to rest.
If your dog is of the short-haired variety, this may not be the case. If you want a short-haired pooch to sleep on a floor bed, you're more likely to accomplish this by providing blankets and pillows. A long-haired dog may be happy with just a sheet as a cooler option.
As with the crate, you may choose to set up a floor bed in your bedroom so your dog still feels close to you. If your dog has significant orthopedic issues, a floor bed can prevent him or her from being injured when attempting to jump on or off the bed.
Though most safety rules recommend against allowing your dog in your bed, it is still a matter of personal preference. Some dogs, like the small, short-haired breeds, just will not find peace until you allow them up in the bed and under the covers.
Even dogs not originally allowed on the bed still find their way up there eventually. After all, we love our dogs, and it's hard to say no to that furry face. If you choose to let your pet sleep with you, it is recommended to first train him or her to sleep somewhere else, condition your pet to be comfortable and appreciative of human contact, and to establish a means of understanding and clear communication between you and your dog.
Essentially, it is your dog and your bed, so it is your choice. Depending on the breed, size and circumstances of your individual pet's needs, it is up to you to choose wisely. Though it may seem cruel to deny them bed rights, in some cases, it is kinder to let sleeping dogs lie where they are safest.