A few days ago I posted a question, "Where does your dog sleep at night?" on my business Facebook page, just for fun. I wanted to get more people interacting, see who saw posts and was genuinely curious. I got quite the response! I even got responses from people that were not fans on my FB page at all (that probably saw the post on their friend's feed).
This of course, got me to thinking, is one place better over another for a dog to sleep? All dogs, and people of course, have different personalities. Factor in age and life-style of the dog and person, and we can have quite a few appropriate places for a dog to sleep.
Ideally, a puppy should sleep in a crate next to the owner's bed. A puppy left loose can harm furniture and items, harm himself and defecate/urinate in the middle of the night. A puppy crated away from humans usually is going to distress bark and whine all night long. Canines are social creatures and locking one away in the garage isn't the nicest thing to do to a new puppy. If the garage is the plan for the future, it should be a gradual move as the puppy matures and becomes more confident. A puppy should not sleep in the owner's bed because he can eliminate in the bed (eww!), fall off the bed and injure himself, get rolled upon by the human, cause potential issues between spouses sharing said bed, potentially resource guard the bed and create a huge issue in the future and lastly, can share some pretty nasty zoonotic diseases/parasites. Also, crate training is very helpful in the long-run of a dog's life and crating at night is an easy way to start and maintain a puppy liking his crate.
An adult dog that someone has had for a while is a different story! An adult dog that does not destroy things and is potty trained, can be allowed freedom of the house at night (and probably during the day as well). This means you can leave a beloved crate with the door open (what I do at home) or substitute a dog bed. Some dogs may choose to sleep in another room entirely if you leave your bedroom door open. Usually due to temperature changes, dogs will lay on the cold floor of the bathroom or entry way etc. Dogs allowed on the furniture may gravitate to the couch at night. What about the dog that wants to sleep in your bed? We no longer have the issue of messing in the bed, being too fragile or developing a bad habit if you are fine with the idea. We do have a potential issue of shedding fur in the bed, zoonotic diseases/parasites, developing resource guarding of the bed or persons in it as well as bed hogging! Another issue not commonly thought of is what if you need to board your dog? Isn't it more fair to the pet sitter and your dog that he feels comfortable in his crate and isn't asking the pet sitter to sleep under her covers?
I will say I am biased, I don't like dogs in my bed. I am ironically, allergic to dogs, even though I am a dog trainer! I don't like fur in my bed either as I am a bit of a clean freak. I also am not a fan of a dog laying between me and my husband, which is totally what happened when he wanted our dog Lex in bed.
My husband would get a sheet out and put it on the bed to keep the fur off our linens and insist that Lex was only coming up for a little cuddle on his side of the bed. Lex would want to be near both of us and would sneak to the middle and belly up for a scratch. While it was cute, I felt crowded and congested. This allowance lead to Lex sneaking onto our bed in the middle of the day when the special sheet was not on the bed and led to me being frustrated upon coming home to a fur covered bed. I unfortunately, felt Lex was so smart, that he should KNOW that I don't like him on the bed and he wasn't allowed unless invited. He didn't get on the bed unless invited when we were home, but left alone, the comforts and smells of his humans was probably too inviting. Ridiculously, this became a cycle that harmed our relationship at one time (me and Lex as well as me and my husband)! So silly really.
While I never really cover this topic with my clients, as I think it is a purely personal choice, dog owners should know that there are some issues with bed sharing with your dog. If those issues don't bother you, then by all means, keep sharing the love!