Dog Sleeping with you can create dog behavior problems

Dog Sleep in Your Bed?

Wading into treacherous waters here talking about whether it’s good or bad for if you have your dog sleep in your bed!

There have been many heated discussions between me and dog owners. You might even be thinking, “That’s why I got a dog Jim! Now you’re telling me I can’t have my dog sleep in my bed?”

It Doesn’t Matter What I Think About You Having Your Dog Sleep in Your Bed


Here’s the deal. The most important thing I want to share with you is that you understand that there are three behavior problems that can develop as a result of your dog sleeping with you night after night. You may not realize what’s happened until the problem has already developed.


Sleeping with My Dog Is Okay


We’re going to cover 3 dog behaviors that MAY arise from sleeping with your dog.

Did any of these dog behaviors sound familiar?

If you see any of these symptoms developing in your dog, think about getting your dog his very own personal bed and put it next to your bed and couch. Give your dog his own bed and give love and affection in moderation but only after a sit.

See, I didn’t tell you that you couldn’t sleep with your dog. I simply made you aware that problems can arise. If you see any of these 3 problems, fix them sooner than later.

This is going to make a great discussion. I’m dying to hear your thoughts on this.

Tell me below in the comments!

Together We Can Raise A Happy and Obedient Dog

Jim Burwell, is Houston’s most respected dog trainer for 30 years, serving over 11,000 clients. Jim takes the science of dog training and shows you how to make it work with your family and dog. He gives you the ability to get that same great behavior from your dog.

28 replies
  1. Jim
    Jim says:

    Sam: there are a number of articles on the site about this behavior. you can look in the search and type in my dog growls at me and a number of articles will appear for you to read.
    If you would like one-to-one help we can do that via live, interactive video coaching or if you live in Houston we can do private lessons. Here’s the link to the video coaching program

  2. Sam
    Sam says:

    I have a female pitbull who is 6m old & ive had since she was 6wks. I am now a single mother of 3 boys & prior to my divorce we had always had pitbulls as our family dog with no problems, so when my boys asked for a dog I assumed that the breed would turn out to be fine. When we first brought her home, she seemed like a normal puppy, then she started growling if I would move her, try to clean up if she vomited & attacking a leash. She is now very protective of the yard if other dogs are outside, she is growling & nipping myself or the kids if we get near her when she’s eating, she’s growling & showing teeth when I pet her if she’s laying on my bed or in my room, growling & bearing teeth if you touch the kennel while she’s in it, growling & lunging if I attempt to correct her, she still attacks the leash & we can’t walk her & today she bit me for walking near her laying on a dog bed I purchased for her to replace sleeping in my bed. I’m not seeming to be able to make progress & unfortunately I live in the state of North Dakota, that as a majority has banded pitbulls & I’m afraid for our safety with her showing aggression with her size & that the town with require her to be destroyed if her behavior doesn’t change. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, thank you

  3. Jim Burwell
    Jim Burwell says:

    Heidi – That—is a simple one 😉 Simply put his dog bed in your room, put his leash on him and tether the leash under a dresser leg, or heavy nightstand leg. That
    way, he’s still in your room, BUT because he’s tethered he can’t jump on your bed. IGNORE his protests. Go back over to my blog and do a search under articles for
    blogs I’ve written on leadership, relationships with your dog etc. You simply need to put structure, rules and boundaries in his life, using positive reinforcement
    and controlling what he values. Much like raising kids, if they get everything they want when they want it – they are out of balance and you have behavior issues.

  4. Heidi
    Heidi says:

    We currently have a dog that we are fostering to adopt from the humane society and this has helped me out a lot. In the last 2 days he started growling at me when I would get into bed, which for me is a little scary because he isn’t a small dog. Him growling at me is making me second guessing us adopting him so we need to try and right this. We do have a bed for him but he won’t sleep on it. Do you have any tips on how to get him to stay in his bed instead of jumping up with us? We can’t put the bed in a kennel because he has alread escaped from his kennel two times when we were at work and the 2nd time he broke one of his teeth so we don’t want him to hurt himself. Thank you for any help you can give me. Also, we will be taking him to obedience training if we decide to adopt him.

  5. Jenny Smith
    Jenny Smith says:

    Lucky me I have no problems and never have. Just me and two terriers. Probably have no separation anxiety as there are two dogs? There is a pecking order with them, as to who gets the top of bed and who gets the middle (this is of their side NOT mine).

  6. Pamela
    Pamela says:

    I’m taking my course with Sue Smith of Raising Canine (she’s based out of Austin, TX) and I’m doing my apprenticeship program at a local training center here in Rochester, NY (Tails of Success, NY).

  7. Pamela
    Pamela says:

    Great advice, Jim. A year ago, I got a 2nd Pomeranian, Sawyer, from a rescue because I was splitting from my ex and taking my 1yr old Pom, Emmett, with me. I wanted him to have a “buddy”. Emmett never slept in the bed and Sawyer was a total cuddle bug in bed. I loved it because I had moved to a new place and was living (and sleeping) alone for the first time in a while, so I welcomed the company. However, Sawyer started resource guarding me and the bed after a few months and it got to the point where he barked & snarled so severely at poor Emmett when he would try to jump up on the bed in the morning (that was his routine–to lick me in the face to wake me and let me know he was ready to go potty) that Emmett is now too afraid to come up on the bed. I’ve started leaving Sawyer in his bed in the living room now and since he’s off the bed, now Emmett sleeps on the bed, but usually not the entire night. Emmett knows his boundaries and has never resource guarded the bed. He is fine if Sawyer wants to come up. I haven’t noticed any more separation anxiety than they already have (I work from home, so they are used to me being around all the time—probably not a good thing) but recently, Sawyer is now resource guarding the couch, but only if I’m on it (so, I think he’s resource guarding me). I’m actually becoming a trainer and mentioned this to my instructor who told me we aren’t up to the “how to handle resource guarding” section of my course yet, but it’s coming! I’m actually grateful to have to deal with some behavioral issues since as I learn how to handle them, I will be able to share my knowledge with other pet owners just as you do. There’s nothing like first hand experience, right? I really appreciate your blog and expertise and continuously learn things from you too, so thank you very much!

  8. Jim Burwell
    Jim Burwell says:

    I would look at what you’re feeding your dog. If it contains chicken or grain I would get him off that and go to something like sojos complete with beef

    Cleared up all the itching our lab used to do AND cut our 90% of his inflammation from his arthritis

  9. Patricia
    Patricia says:

    Thanks Jim. I’ve had my bichon frise sleeping in bed with me since I got him (8+ yrs). I tried leaving him in his crate those first few nights but he screached like nails going down a chaulkboard. I couldn’t take it. A little over 3 yrs ago I nipped his ear while trimming and cut him bad. He had a cone for a bit so he wouldn’t rip open the wound. Well, 3 yrs later and he’s still in the cone because all he does is lick until he bleeds and then licks some more. No medication works he just licks that off also. Recently I left him coneless for one day and he licked his penis raw – he cried and cried but couldn’t stop himself. So he is back in the cone. It is driving me crazy. My vet has tried everything and nothing stops the constant licking.

  10. Megan
    Megan says:

    I have 5 dogs of various sizes. One is too big and neither he nro I am comfortable witht e room he takes up – or how much room he thinks I take up ;); another prefers to sleep on the floor or a small bed, nothing plush. The 3 Beagles though – they like to pile on. I like it also, but I also make a point that they have to get off if I tell them. I practice this not just at night, but during the day will give them a random command to get off the furniture. I do sometimes notice resource guarding, not with me but with other dogs. If there is growling, I don’t punish but I have them all off and tell them to go get one of their toys or play outside or we do sit/down as a game.

  11. lorraine palmer
    lorraine palmer says:

    We have two dogs both staffies, both are on the whole very well behaved, they suffer a little from separation anxiety when they are away from me, but it’s not just because they sleep in our room it is because I have been made redundant and been on long term sick since having them. Originally the dogs were brought into the bedroom because we had rising damp in the kitchen where they slept, so until this was rectified, I thought it was healthier for them to sleep in our room. The other issue is..and I don’t know what causes it and you may think this is silly..there were banging noises on my side of the room every husband heard them too, every time I would drop off to sleep I would be woken by loud bangs, since having the dogs in the room I sleep better as there has been very little noise.

    My husband complains sometimes depends how much bed he has, but does not mind really .We have a small bed settee in the room where they can go or i can sleep if I like as I am a terrible sleeper average of four hours per night and he has to get up really early. They have never really been a problem, don’t claim or complain. I would say if you want your dogs in the bedroom, provide an alternative place for them to sleep if necessary.

  12. Jim Burwell
    Jim Burwell says:

    Sue: too many options. make a decision and stick to it or her resource guarding could easily get worse. Either she’s on the bed (even just laying there while
    you get ready for bed and any other time she wants) OR she doesn’t get on the bed at all. Jim

  13. Jim Burwell
    Jim Burwell says:

    Most welcome Katheryn. It’s always a personal choice but I felt owners need to be aware of what may be causing some of their dog behavior issues. Thanks for your comment


  14. Doreen
    Doreen says:

    Hi Jim,
    I sleep with my 3 Irish Wolfhounds without any of the issues you mentioned. They are very welcoming to others who may be over watching a movie in the bedroom. I use the time also for combing and bushing. Most times Ira doesn’t join us until late in the night. All 3 can go in and out during the night to the bathroom without disturbing me. However, if I go to the bathroom, one usually captures my sleeping spot. If they won’t move, I give them the place command to another area of the bed and then a treat. It sure saves on heating bills in the winter. I think that’s where a 3 dog night comes from.

  15. Janet
    Janet says:

    Hi Jim,

    This explains so much! I have had my dog for 4.5 years (she is 6.5 years old) and she used to sleep in her kennel every night. No problems. Then just over a year ago, I moved into a small basement suite and there really was nowhere to set the kennel up where I wasn’t tripping over it. So, she started sleeping in the bed with me. It was gradual, but suddenly she had separation anxiety, and I chalked it up to living in a basement. Because it cools down quite a bit at night, I am going to get a raised bed for her, and put it next to my bed and see if that will help turn this situation around. Thank you so much for the ‘aha’ moment. I will let you know how that goes. Thank you again.


  16. Katheryn Weaver
    Katheryn Weaver says:

    JIm , I own 4 dogs and none of them sleep with me . Why, ? Just exactly for the reasons you stated in the video … I can not nor will I allow any of my dogs to sleep in my bed or bedroom ..They have their own room and plenty of beds .. I have a large golden that prefers his crate at night …. It down not get better than that . So I am extremely happy that you brought this touchy subject up … Thank you .

  17. Sue Kranz
    Sue Kranz says:

    Hi, Jim! We really wrestled with this issue – and decided she would NOT sleep with us in our bed. She jumps up on the bed and gets comfy while we get ready for bed, and then she is told to get down on her own bed. Since she rips the stuffing out of every plush bed we get her, she just has a blanket on the floor at the foot of the bed. It has been the same every night since she was potty trained and didn’t need her bedroom crate. (10 months or so) Yet she still will put up a fuss about getting off the bed, and sometimes she growls at me – but she’s always in a playful pose when she does. I never let her win, obviously, but it bothers me when she does it, she sounds vicious! She does jump back onto the bed with me after my hubby gets up for work, she curls up at my feet. Do I need to stop that? She is just over a year old, I can’t leave the house without crating her yet… I have given her some chances to be out, but she has not been a good dog… things left on the table found on the floor, chewed to bits or just strewn about… are these things related to her sleeping with me for an hour or two in the morning? Or is she just too young to be left out? Thanks for you help, Jim!

  18. laurie
    laurie says:

    My dog is allowed on my bed (when invited) but she doesn’t sleep with us. My other dog, which we didn’t get until she was four, won’t even get on the bed when invited. When she gets up on the couch, she does so very gingerly, so I don’t know if she was just taught not to get on a bed or she can’t. We have to help her get into the back of the truck, so it may be she just isn’t a jumper. Both of them do sleep next to our bed on their own beds.

  19. Pam Heule
    Pam Heule says:

    If I had only known then what I know now I would not have EVER done this. What seemed so innocent in those early years could cause separation anxiety. I am guilty of training with my heart & not my head. Another great example of boundaries dogs need. Someday I will get another dog when my Yorkie is no longer here & I will definitely do a LOT of things very different. Education is a wonderful thing. Too bad we don’t think before we get that cute little bundle of fur to EDUCATE first! Love alone is not a good thing for man or dog. Great information as always Jim.

  20. Jeff Denison
    Jeff Denison says:

    My pup, Chloe, spent the 1st couple of years being in her crate from the day I brought her home.

    She didn’t start sleeping on the bed until I moved last June. Part of me was concerned with her adjustment to the new house, so I let her up on the bed every couple of nights. Usually, her time with me isn’t very long. When I get up in the morning Chloe’s gone to her kennel on her own.

    For all I know, maybe I move around too much in my sleep and she doesn’t like to be disturbed. 😉

    Regardless, I haven’t encountered any separation issues. She’s home while I work, even has the run of the house, except for the bedrooms. Doesn’t do her business until I get home, takes care of anything she needs before I go to work. Chloe is happy to see me when I return!!

    I really believe that it was your advice early on about not showing too much affection, rather being engaged in the behaviours of my dog. There by, acquiring the trust of Chloe so she isn’t afraid when I have to leave her alone.

    Hope this helps

  21. Marjean
    Marjean says:

    My husband and I have 6 dogs, 5 of whom are under 15 lbs. Three of the little dogs sleep in bed, 2 sleep in crates next to the bed. I am in agreement that the choice should be made based on personality and temperament. But – if you have more than one dog, you can have it both ways and everyone is happy! I am interested on feedback on this method, also.

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