Canine behaviorist reveals that it’s ok to sleep with your dog in the bed but only on one condition!

Dog in bed next to owners' feet
(Image credit: Getty)

The age-old question of whether it's acceptable to let our furry friends share our sleeping space prompts many debates among canine owners. No matter what side of the fence you sit on in this debate, it’s something every dog owner has done or considered at some point. Anxiety in dogs isn’t uncommon and is often why so many owners allow their dogs in their beds to get through the night.

Just take a look at the stats to see how many people are sharing a bed with their pet, according to this Mayo Clinic study, 45% of American dogs snuggle up in their owners' beds each night. Online canine trainer, Will Atherton, shared this statistic in a recent TikTok where he discusses whether it’s right or wrong to share your bed with your four-legged friend.

With one crucial condition in mind, Atherton tackled the much-debated topic of co-sleeping with dogs. You can find out his take on the debate below or keep reading for a summary of what he has to say…


♬ original sound - Will Atherton

Atherton began his explanation by emphasizing that the decision to allow your dog into your bed hinges on several factors, primarily centered around their behavior. “If you’re perfectly happy and content with your dog’s behavior in every aspect of its life and you actually want them to sleep in your bed then I have no problem. It’s very normal for dogs to sleep with their pack members,” says Atherton.

However, he highlights that certain problem behaviors may arise if dogs are allowed in the bed without addressing underlying issues. Specifically, separation anxiety and leadership-based problems tend to surface more prominently when dogs are given the privilege of bed-sharing. 

To mitigate these concerns, Atherton strongly recommends crate training as a viable solution. By teaching your dog independent skills and creating a designated sleeping space, such as a crate, you can promote a healthy sleep routine while addressing any behavior issues. PetsRadar offers helpful guides right here all on learning how to crate train a dog including advice on how to crate train an older dog.

Atherton also addresses a common dilemma faced by dog owners. If your dog's nighttime rest is disrupted by howling or barking, and you believe that allowing them into your bed is the only way to ensure peace, it's crucial to recognize this as a problem that requires attention. 

You may wish to pick this up with a trainer in person so that they can monitor your dog’s behavior more closely. If you’re thinking of reaching out to someone, do make sure you read up on how to spot dog trainer red flags to ensure you pick out the right trainer for you and your pup.

All in all, while allowing dogs to sleep in our beds can create a sense of closeness and comfort, it is essential to consider each dog's unique temperament and any underlying behavioral concerns.

Article update 26/06/2023: Will Atherton does not have official accreditation as a dog trainer/behaviorist, if you wish to seek help from an accredited trainer always look for mentions of training or certificates from official boards such as the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) in the US or Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC) for the UK.

If you're looking to take a deeper dive into your canine queries, we've got your back. Find out our animal experts' answers to questions like, how long does a dog stay in heat? Or helpful advice on how to keep a dog cool in the car this summer.

Jessica Downey
Staff Writer

With over a year of writing for PetsRadar, Jessica is a seasoned pet writer. She joined the team after writing for the sister site, Fit&Well for a year. Growing up with a lively rescue lurcher kindled her love for animal behavior and care. Jessica holds a journalism degree from Cardiff University and has authored articles for renowned publications, including LiveScience, Runner's World, The Evening Express, and Tom's Guide. Throughout her career in journalism she has forged connections with experts in the field, like behaviorists, trainers, and vets. Through her writing, Jessica aims to empower pet owners with accurate information to enhance their furry companions' lives.