Every early morning, around 2am, my sleeping partner wakes me up because she’s thirsty and needs a bathroom break. Fortunately for her, she has no trouble going back to sleep . I know this because after this nightly ritual, I’m often wide-awake, listening to her gentle snores.By now, you may have figured out that my bed buddy is a dog. Like many dogs around the world, Maddie, a 13-year-old Shih Tzu, is a co-sleeper who shares her bed with a human.
Various studies have estimated that about half of all pet owners allow their pets to sleep in the bed. Although the scientific literature makes a compelling case that our pets are good for us in many ways, research into the impacts of co-sleeping is more limited.
Breathe easy. In addition to sweating through their paw pads, dogs pant to cool themselves off. A panting dog can take 300-400 breaths (compared to his regular 30-40) with very little effort.
- Dog thieves to face five years in jail under new criminal offence
Pitter patter. A large breed dog’s resting heart beats between 60 and 100 times per minute, and a small dog breed’s heart beats between 100-140. Comparatively, a resting human heart beats 60-100 times per minute.
The study’s authors noted that the dog’s sleep efficiency “was unaffected by their location”. And notably, the monitoring devices detected the dogs enjoying about two minutes of playtime each night.Once a dog experiences sleeping in bed with a human, it can be a hard habit to break, said Alexandra Horowitz, a professor at Barnard College in New York and author of the book Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know.
“If you let them sleep on the bed with you, they’re going to continue to want to because it’s a nice place to sleep,” Horowitz said. “It would be extra hard not to let them.”
Get Your Dog Microchipped For a Permanent Identifier. A scan of your dogs microchip will give all of your personal information to help with a speedy reunion, just remember to update your information with the microchip company if you move. (microchips are also one of the ways a court can make a decision regarding ownership of a dog, if it ever came to that)
But allowing your pet to sleep in the bed is only a problem if it causes you distress, Horowitz said. Although some people believe that letting a dog in your bed could lead to behaviour issues in the pet, there’s no evidence co-sleeping creates problems, she said. In fact, it could lead to a stronger bond with your pet.
“I think it really came from this idea that dogs should be segregated from the best parts of the house — they shouldn’t be in the kitchen, the dining room, on the couch or on the bed,” Horowitz said. “For some reason, there is this sense that we have to maintain our dominance over them by having full possession of these things. It sounds ridiculous because it is ridiculous.”
Horowitz said that when her dogs, Finnegan, a Lab mix, and Upton, a Great Dane-bloodhound mix, started crowding the bed, the solution in her house was not to kick them out, but to “expand the size of our bed.”
INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Having a pet in the home can actually lower a child’s likelihood of developing related allergies by as much as 33 percent. Children exposed early on to animals tend to develop stronger immune systems overall.
“They’re getting older, so they can’t leap up onto the bed any more,” she said. “We actually have to lift them onto the bed. But it’s the best place. It’s a comfy place. It’s where we are.”Horowitz recently got a new puppy, a Schnauzer-cattle dog mix named Quiddity, who sleeps with her son. She said that if someone was having trouble sleeping because of a dog, they should try to find another cosy spot for the pet to enjoy. “They don’t have to sleep in the bed,” she said. “Find some other place as spectacularly good — or maybe they want to sleep with your son.”
INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Dogs have wet noses because it helps to absorb scent chemicals.
One question the Mayo Clinic study didn’t address was how sleep changes for dog owners if the dog leaves the bed. On a few occasions, my dog Maddie has chosen to sleep elsewhere, and I find myself waking up even more wondering where she is. When that happens, I go and find her and bring her back to bed.When Jamie Contreras and her husband, who live near Portland, Oregon, got their bulldog mix puppy, Cooper, they planned for him to sleep in a crate next to the bed. But soon, the dog made it clear he wanted to be on the bed. As the dog got bigger, it became apparent there wasn’t enough room for everybody — so the couple bought a king-size bed.
Help Them Adapt to New Environments. “The only thing that likes change is a four-week-old baby in a wet diaper.” Though puppies and kittens are easygoing, mature pets often need guidance transitioning into new spaces. Dr. Becker advises introducing them slowly. “Don’t just dump them in a new house and hope for the best.” Pheromone sprays are handy for making strange houses more inviting. “Cats,” notes Dr. Becker, exist as both predator and prey, and in predator mode, they need vertical surfaces like climbing towers to feel safe.”
- Your dog could call you with this device that aims to ease pet separation anxiety
- Family forced to give up pet ‘dog’ when it turns out to be a fox
- Will Young handcuffs himself to dog breeding centre at protest
“He’s a big dog and he moves around a lot,” Contreras said. “But I like having him there. It’s a comfort. When we travel, it’s almost hard to sleep not having him there. There are inconveniences to it, and it occasionally wakes you up, but the benefits outweigh that. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: More than half of all U.S presidents have owned dogs.