It’s the end of a long day, and all you want to do is get into bed with your four-legged friend for some snuggling and sleep. But is this a good idea?
That depends on the personality of your pet, according to the Best Friends Animal Society, an animal welfare organization. In other words: While some dogs and cats may love getting to be with you, it may not be the best for every type of pet.
“It has been documented with anecdotal evidence that co-sleeping with your pet might help you with depression due to the flow oxytocin…commonly called the ‘love drug’ or ‘love hormone’. This could help with insomnia, decrease loneliness, and arguably could help with one’s quality of sleep,” says Dr. Carley Faughn, board certified applied animal behaviorist.
But just because it may be good for us humans, it doesn’t make it good for all pets. There are a few things to do before inviting your furry friend to sleep in your bed, according to Faughn. First off, it’s important to see whether your pet even likes the bed, and how they feel about sharing it.
“Always look for stress signs to ensure pets are enjoying the space,” Faughn said. “For dogs, these signs of stress might be heavy panting, restlessness, and simply leaving the bed altogether. For cats, stress signs might be lowered ears, enlarged pupils, and again they just might leave bed immediately.”
If they appear to be a bit skeptical or skittish of the bed at first, trying tossing a few treats for them to find on it, Faughn suggests. Favorite toys or other items they like could also work at making them feel more comfortable.
“Do not force your pets to do things they don’t appear to enjoy. Ultimately, if you pay attention to your pet’s reaction to the bed, you will know whether they want to sleep in bed or have their own space nearby.”
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Smaller dogs could benefit from a set of stairs to assist them in getting up onto the bed, and it’s important to make sure it’s safe for your dog or cat to jump on or off.
Overall, know going into it that while some pets will take to the bed right away, others may take some time to get used to it.
There are also some pets that would be better off not sleeping in a bed with their owner. For example, dogs or cats that tend to guard their resources closely may not be ideal ones to share a bed with. Faughn said that the animal could end up enjoying the bed so much, that they don’t want to share it at all — whether that involves someone else sleeping in the bed with you, or even trying to guard it from you.
Be sure to monitor pets’ body language to see what makes the most sense for your well-being as well as theirs.
“All pets and humans are all individuals. I personally find it beneficial for me to co-sleep with my pets because I enjoy snuggling with them in bed. It helps with my anxiety as well as my quality of sleep,” Faughn said.
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