I saw an advertisement for the perfect bed. It was twelve feet wide! It would be awesome for a couple and all the animals. We have had as many as seven dogs and two cats sleeping with us. Of course, even with a twelve-foot wide bed, I still might not get that much of the bed.
Seems that when I am up late and everyone has already gone to bed, it goes one of two ways. If my spouse is even leaning on my side of the bed, it is bam! Move over! However if one of the dogs or cats is squarely on my side of the bed, I carefully, squeeze in and take my available four inches on the edge of the bed so that I don’t disturb them. Then I will carefully lay awake next to them while trying keep from falling out of the bed.
I think one of the best things about pets is having them sleep in bed with me. Recently, I traveled to go to a classmate’s burial in Arlington. Another classmate and his wife hosted me, but they did not provide one of their dogs to sleep with. As a result, I did not get a great night’s sleep. I feel more safe and secure if there is a dog sleeping with me. Ranger twice alerted us to an overheated pan on the stove one night. The pan and house might have caught on fire before we noticed. Whiskey and Tango often will alert when deer are in the yard outside the bedroom. I know they would tell me if anyone was around.
Security is important, but in my opinion, pets are the absolute best snugglers. Whiskey will often snuggle in beside my back with his head on my pillow. Tango will often be in the same spot along my back but puts his head across my neck. Ryker will lay along the curve of my legs when I am on my side. Regardless of where the dog is, Parker, the cat, is usually somewhere on my pillow. Although if Whiskey or Tango are taking up too much of the pillow, Parker will sleep on my legs. Crash sleeps beside Matt or on his feet. Jasper and Tigre (cats) take turns sleeping on his feet.
As good as it is for the fur kids to snuggle in bed, I do not recommend that they sleep in bed until they are six months old. Especially dogs need to learn that it is okay to be alone. This means that pups should spend their first six months sleeping in their crates. A crate is not a wire cage. A crate has plastic or wood sides that feels snuggly and secure. In the wild, a dog will look for a den where they only have to defend their space in one direction. If they could figure out how to shut the front door, they would. It is important for their psychological development that they learn that it is okay to be alone.
Of course, a pup may not be able to make it through the night in their crate without going out to pee or poo. This is understandable and should be accommodated. During the day, we do over the top reinforcement to train housebreaking. At night, this should be replaced with a simple, quiet “good dog.” To do more or play with them encourages them to be up and awake when you want to sleep. Babies will do the same thing and learn to keep their parents up.
Speaking of babies, when M’Kinzy was a baby, we were very concerned about how the dogs would do. All of our pets were great and well behaved, but they visibly relaxed at bedtime when the new baby went to her own room and her own bed and they were still allowed to sleep in their (our) bed. Isaac, Maggie, (yellow labs) Worf (black shar-pei) and Half-a-cat and Spooky all had their places in our bed. I’m not sure how the order was established, but they all knew who slept where. I think they were afraid, M’Kinzy would take one of their places and upset the order.
As dogs get older or after an injury, they may need a ramp or steps to get in and out of bed. Small dogs may need steps so they can get in and out of bed. A short chest at the foot of the bed may help them get in and out of bed without an injury.
One of the disadvantages of pet sleeping in bed is that they steal the covers. A good friend of mine describes waking up in the middle of the night with no covers. Minnie, her small dog, had taken all the covers and made them into a circular nest in the middle of the bed. There were no covers on the edge of the bed for my friend, but Minnie was quite comfortable.
A contraindication for pets in bed is human allergies. Most allergies can be dealt with by medication and a good solid 8-10 hours away from the allergen. If the cat or dog is kept out of the bedroom at all times, most humans can deal with a pet in their house. Sleeping with a pet is a great way to get an overdose of allergens. Getting a break at night may mean that you can enjoy them during the day.
Dogs are really good at routines. This means that they often will tell you when it is time to go to bed, if you are up late, they will often come and get you to go to bed. Going to bed on time is cute. Waking up on a routine time is great on Monday morning when you sleep through the alarm, but not so great on Sunday when you get to sleep later in the morning, I did manage to train Ranger to sleep in. I didn’t mean to, but when he got up in the morning to pee, I would put him back in his crate and go back to bed. He decided that this meant he wasn’t allowed to get up to pee. When we did get up, he would not pee on the way to Guardian Animal. He would get up, get in the truck, walk into his run, eat and only then when he went out after eating, did he pee.
Actually, I don’t need the twelve-foot bed. The dogs and cats will take their place and I will curl in around them.