I started allowing Duoji to sleep in the room with me when she was about 9 months old. Subsequently, that progressed to her sharing the bed with me (or my sis, depending on her mood). At that time I didn’t really give much thought to it, nor was I aware that some experts online actually actively discourage this practice. I thought it was fairly common, cos who wouldn’t want to cuddle with your furry pal?
Some of the reasons cited include feeding into the dominant streak of your pet, increased risks of parasitic infections/diseases, and disrupted sleep, amongst others. Yet for every piece of literature discouraging this, there are also many other articles touting the benefits of sleeping with your pets.
For pawrents who are still on the fence, here are some of the pros and cons of letting your pet sleep with you, based on my personal experience over the past year.
You get to spend more time together
This was actually the main reason why I made the switch.
For her first seven months at home, Duoji slept alone in her playpen at night in the living room. My whole family works full-time and during the day, Duoji is alone at home. When I get back from work at night, I typically have about 3-4 hours with her before I have to shower and get ready for bed etc. That also signals her bedtime, where I’ll then secure her in the playpen and bid her goodnight. I would occasionally still hear her barking for attention, or whining, especially when she was younger.
The next morning, I let her out for her meal, pat her for a little bit, then I have to rush off to work. If you think about it, the actual face-time isn’t much. I do try make up for it over the weekends but still, there’s this sense of guilt gnawing at me inside. I felt like I wasn’t being a good pawrent #mumguilt.
Nowadays, with our new routine, Duoji automatically follows me when I head back to my room. Even when I’m doing my own things like reading, watching shows or waiting for my hair to dry after shower, she’s right there keeping me company (and vice versa). Or she would be snoozing in bed.
It may not seem like much but sleeping and spending time with your furkid before bed indirectly increases the amount of time you both spend together. Personally I noticed that Duoji became less whiny at night and more calm in the morning. Previously she would always be very excited and energetic in the morning, having not seen anyone the entire night. And that’s not helpful when you’re trying to get your dog to settle down and eat quickly so that you can head to work on time.
It can strengthen your bond
What better way to bond with your pet than sharing a cuddle at night? Or giving your furkid a belly rub as you netflix and chill in bed.
Sharing a bed (or room) with your pet is another way to connect without demanding too much from each other. Having a relaxing time with each other can help also help to build trust and confidence in your pet.
It may not solely be due to the sleeping arrangements but I did notice Duoji becoming more physically affectionate with me as she gets older. I often find her leaning up against me as she’s resting – on the sofa or the floor, or sitting on my lap, even when it’s not bedtime.
For those who live alone or have their own rooms, having the presence of another living thing near you as you sleep can be a great source of comfort. It’s also extra cosy!
Waking up to a cute face or warm licks on the face is also a super nice feeling. I sometimes find myself wanting to stay in bed longer just so that I can prolong these morning cuddly moments.
Conversely, allowing your pet to sleep with you can also help your furkids feel more at ease, being close to their humans. Dogs are pack animals by nature. This can be especially beneficial for those who tend to be more insecure.
You feel safer
There’s a reason for the term Guard Dog.
It’s a known fact that dogs have excellent hearing and most are fairly protective of their humans. If there are any sounds or movement, you can be sure that your furry pal will sound the alarm and alert you.
Whether it’s an intruder (touch wood!) or just the presence of an unwanted critter. It’s like having a built-in protection system.
While it’s true that not all dogs are guard dog material, even a fearful whimper or scuttle across the room works as an alarm signal too! Just the knowledge that your dog will react in the event of something amiss can help you feel safer at night.
You can respond faster if anything happens to them
Having your furkids in the room with you is also a way of preventing them from roaming around and getting in trouble if they’re sleeping elsewhere. More importantly, it enables the pawrent to be more vigilant and react faster in case of any emergencies.
There was once I woke up to a loud wheezing sound. It was from Duoji, loud enough to jolt me from sleep. I would later find out that it’s possibly reverse sneezing but at that moment, it freaked me out. On hindsight the episode probably lasted less than a minute but it felt way longer to me. All I could do was to comfort her while waiting for it to stop.
Another time, I woke up in the morning to some retching sounds. Duoji had vomited bile.
While both occasions were not life-threatening, I was able to respond and soothe her almost immediately. For that I am thankful. Or else I might just be fast asleep, leaving her to suffer the discomfort alone in the living room.
Lost bed space
And now, on to the cons.
Top of my list is definitely the lack of bed space. Once you let your dog in your bed, to them the bed then becomes theirs. On many occasions I’d walk into my room or enter after showering to find Duoji sprawled across the bed or right smack in the middle, leaving me with little to no space to sleep unless I push her away. Fortunately she’s quite small in size so I can always pick her up easily.
If you’re like me and sometimes leave clothes lying around on the bed, be prepared for them to be damaged overnight. In the middle of the night, while everyone is asleep, your furkid might be awake and get bored. That’s when they may start to ‘attack’ items around.
I’ve personally woken up to discover damaged zippers on my clothing or missing buttons. These days, I try not to things lying around. In a way it makes the room neater so it’s a plus point I guess.
Some people say that sharing a bed with your dog can be disruptive to your sleep. Perhaps that may be true for those more sensitive to movement or sounds but personally for me, that has never been a problem.
Duoji moves around throughout the night – sometimes my bed, my sister’s bed, her own bed but I usually manage to sleep pretty well even when she’s around. Maybe I’m blessed in this area. Even the occasional sound of her snoring isn’t that loud to be an issue.
In actual fact, I think my presence actually affect Duoji’s sleep even more. Dogs are already more sensitive to movements and noises. Add that to the human tossing and turning in bed, I think it’s more likely for the dog to be kept awake and not have a restful sleep.
I’m also the kind who sets multiple alarms and snooze them repeatedly so imagine the din that Duoji has to endure every morning. Yikes!
Disruption of nightly routine
One thing that I had to change recently to accommodate Duoji was my nightly routine. I’m a night owl and usually sleep after 2am. These days, I find myself consciously retiring to my room earlier so that Duoji would follow suit and get ready for bed.
Knowing that she prefers to sleep in dim lighting, I also started implementing ‘Lights Out’ time. I’d be doing my usual stuff like reading or watching shows on my tablet with a night light and earphones on so as not to disturb her. It’s a small trade-off though, one that I’m very willing to make.
What to take note of?
If you’re intending to welcome your furkid to bed, here are some things that you might want to take note of:
- Make sure to only start after your furkid is fully toilet trained and is old enough to hold their bladder overnight. You wouldn’t want to wake up to a soiled bed or pillow. I have a pee tray in my room but Duoji only used it a couple of times. Usually she’s able to wait till the next day and pee after someone lets her out of the room.
- Best to wait till your pup outgrows the chewing stage or you risk waking up to damaged items. When Duoji was younger she used to like chewing on my hair. Well, I’m glad she wasn’t sleeping with me then.
- Is your bed too high for your pal? The height of your bed should ideally be safe for your furkid to jump up and down without hurting themselves. Alternatively you might want to use pet stairs.
- Is your pet a drooler or shedder? If you have sensitive skin or allergies, you might want to reconsider or do a short trial. Personally I have mild eczema and sensitive nose but perhaps because Duoji is a toy poodle, the shedding issue is quite insignificant. I never had any issues with allergies or sensitivities caused by her.
- Dirt and fleas can be picked up by your dog and brought into your bed. The best way to deal with this is to keep your furkid as clean as possible. That means cleaning their paws and body thoroughly with anti-bacterial wipes after every outing, cleaning the muzzle and butt after meals and poop, etc. I believe that this is something that many pawrents already do as part of their routine care.
- And lastly, do know that once you start to introduce them to your bed, there’s no turning back. They may never leave!
Do I regret inviting Duoji in? Absolutely not. To me, the inconveniences are nothing to shout about compared to the extra bonding moments we have together. Perhaps the situation would be different if it involved another breed, or if she was bigger in size, or she’s the more active or disruptive kind. Or if I have worse allergies.
At the end of the day, it’s a personal choice. But for me, for sure I wouldn’t get to experience moments like these if I had left Duoji sleeping alone at night. I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
Do you sleep with your pets as well? I’d love to hear your experience.
Until our next post!