Sleeping with the enemy
By Rodrigo Trigosso
"Allowing your dog to sleep in your bed will make of him a terrible monster. He will think he is the leader of the pack and, then, you will have to be his servant."
That's what, according to the alpha dog theory, would happen if you let your dog to sleep with you (Ok, I exaggerated a bit, but that's just because I want to be a drama writer when I grow up.)
Is the alpha dog theory right? Will your dog become a nightmare creature, almost as scary as Freddy Krueger? Not really. In fact most people let their dogs to sleep in bed and nothing wrong happens. Besides, where do you think dogs sleep when they live in a real dog pack? You're right! They sleep together with other dogs, including those we like to call "alpha."
However, allowing your dog to sleep in your bed could lead to some real problems. These potential problems are:
- If your dog is too small and you roll over too much while asleep, he may get hurt because of your movement (you may roll over your little puppy!)
- Your dog may fall down from bed because of your movement. He may get hurt if he is small enough.
- If your dog is not potty trained and he can't go down (perhaps he is too small to go down the bed), he may pee or poop on your bed. That's a really scary thing if you're asleep.
- Your pajamas and bedclothes will need more frequent cleaning to remove dog hair (unless your dog is bold, of course).
From a pessimistic point of view, we may find other potential problems like:
- You may get fleas
- You have adopted Cujo and he eats you while you're sleeping
Since you keep your dog clean, it's not likely that you get fleas from him. The other problem, the Cujo thing, would be a real trouble but at least you would be in the next Spielberg's movie.
Ok, now speaking seriously, if your dog is well educated, the only concerns you may have are: hurting your dog if he is too small and pee/poop on your bed.
Of course, if you haven't potty trained your dog, pee and poop could become a big issue.
On the other hand, if your dog acts aggressively towards you (growling, nipping, etc.) when you try to move him or when you want to go to bed, then you have a real issue. But that's not a "pack leader" problem. Instead, it could be a "reinforcing the bad behavior" problem or a problem related to your dog's health. If you're in such a situation, take your dog to the vet and ask a professional trainer for help. Please avoid those trainers who claim that your dog is becoming the alpha, because they worsen the problem.
Please also keep in mind that dogs should never be alone with small children. Therefore, while allowing your dog to sleep in your bed is not dangerous, don't let him to sleep with a small child if you can't supervise both of them.
As I said before, most people sleep with their dogs and nothing wrong happens. So, if you want to allow your dog to sleep in your bed and you take this advice... go ahead! He won't become "the leader of the pack" or any other fictitious creature.
Just be sure to give him a proper education so he won't pee on your bed.
Oops, I almost forget. Teach your dog to get off the bed on command. This command will be very useful when you want the bed for you and your partner to... well, to do your things.
Good night, have a nice dream.
About the Author
Rodrigo Trigosso is a biologist and professional dog trainer. His website at http://www.dog-training-tutorial.com provides objective and reliable information on dog training and behavior.
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