Many of my clients want to know if I think it’s OK for their dog to sleep in their bed. They are very surprised to hear that I allow my dogs to do so. I love having them on my couch, I watch TV with them, I love having them sleep on my bed. As a professional trainer, I offer the best advice possible which includes all the pros and cons of whether or not you should allow your dog to do something.
The foundation of my answer to most questions about whether it’s OK or not OK for their dog to do something is always the same. So, remember this; I say it on every training to every pet parent that requires my services. Dogs are very black and white. They don’t do well in the grey area. So, keep it simple. THEY CAN OR THEY CAN’T. IT IS OK OR IT ISN’T OK. “Sometimes” doesn’t work well for a dog.
Let’s go back to letting your dog sleep in your bed. Once you decide to allow your dog to sleep in your bed, it is very disturbing to the dog if you change your mind and decide that you no longer want the dog in your bed, or some nights you do and some nights you don’t. Trying to keep your dog out of your bed and/or your bedroom after an extended period of time, can lead to many different negative behaviors that were not displayed previously, like separation anxiety, barking, whining, urinating, defecating, chewing diggings, and scratching on the bedroom door. Not a pretty picture.
Either be sure about your decision that it’s OK or if you want to try the grey area, set up a “dress rehearsal” which is one of my favorite ways to modify behavior. What does that mean? That means don’t wait until bedtime. When you have some free time, allow the dog on the bed with you for a short time and then return the dog to their own bed in or outside the bedroom. Practice that for short periods of time a few times a day and then extend the time on and off your bed. Be sure to give your dog precise and consistent commands to go to their bed and offer a new chew toy. This method takes a lot of patience and practice and is not always successful, but you have a greater chance of success with a puppy.
The same idea would apply if you let your dog sit on the couch, or even jump up on people including YOU! Either it’s OK or it’s NOT!