Having a dog in bed is something that many owners choose to do, but this behavior is not without its controversy. For every proponent of co-sleeping, there is a critic pointing out all of the reasons why it is not a good idea. It can leave concerned dog owners scratching their heads as they try to decide whether or not they should allow their pet into their bedroom or bed.
As it happens, the entire idea of co-sleeping is far from a new one. In fact, when dogs first became domesticated they were often encouraged to share a sleeping space with their humans for warmth and, in some cases, to help ward off evil spirits. It has only been in more recent times that some people started to question the advisability of sharing a bed with their dog.
The arguments against having a dog in bed generally center on possible detriments to human health. It's true that sharing a sleeping space with your dog can aggravate existing allergies and there is some risk, albeit a slim one, of transmitting disease from dog to human or even vice-versa. Whether you care to expose yourself to these potential issues is up to you, of course, and many people believe that the benefits far outweigh the risks.
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Another possible drawback to co-sleeping is sleep disruption. This stems from the very different sleep patterns of humans and dogs. Dogs tend to wake up more frequently and to remain alert to even the slightest sound.
This can apply more to some breeds than others, with active, intelligent breeds like the Australian Shepherd more prone to waking frequently. This makes them a very effective security system but it can also make it more difficult for their humans to get the proper amount or quality of sleep, leading to a range of health issues that may be very troubling.
Some experts believe that having a dog in bed can lead to behavior problems such as aggression and separation anxiety but there is no definite proof on this point. In some cases, co-sleeping may just emphasize behavior problems that already exist. If you have concerns about your dog's behavior and whether co-sleeping may be contributing to it, you could consult your vet or a professional trainer for advice.
Though it may have disadvantages, there are also many potential benefits to be had from co-sleeping. By sharing your bed, you increase the amount of time that you spend with your dog, which can help to strengthen the bond between you. It can increase feelings of comfort and companionship, ease anxiety and promote a sense of security. Not to mention the fact that dogs are wonderful natural bed warmers, perfect for long, cold winter nights!
When it comes down to it, whether or not you allow your dog in bed with you is a personal choice. It can be a wonderful, bonding experience that only enriches the human/canine relationship but it may also have drawbacks that make it a less desirable choice.
Ultimately, you need to weigh the pros and the cons and decide for yourself. Just remember that whichever way you decide to go you'll want to begin training as early as possible. Once a dog has learned to join you in your bed it will be that much harder to deter him from the behavior, so don't let it become a habit if it's not something you want him to do.
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