We’ve all heard that allowing our dogs into bed with us can lead to a restless night of bad sleep, and can even open you up to injuries and illness. But according to a new Mayo Clinic study, keeping your pup nearby while you snooze can actually help you—and your pup—get a better night’s sleep.
Researchers attached accelerometers to 40 healthy human subjects and their dogs, and monitored them while they slept. Dog owners who let their dogs stay in their rooms overnight slept more efficiently, with 81% of their time in bed spent asleep. And their dogs’ sleep efficiency was even higher, at 85%.
So if you want to create a comfy environment for Fido or Fifi that encourages them to sleep in your room, but not in your bed, what can you do?
Create a comfy sleeping space.
If Buddy had previously been banished from the bedroom, he’s probably already used to sleeping on his own and won’t be as tempted to hop up on your bed—as long as he has a designated place to sleep.
Some dogs are comfortable in the den-like environment of a crate. Some prefer to sleep on dog beds, or a soft rug. Figure out Buddy’s preferences (it’s easier than you’d think) and create a space just for him.
Set some rules.
If Spot is already used to sleeping in your bed, Philadelphia-based dog trainer Jennifer Sabatino tells us you may have a little hard work—and possibly some interrupted sleep—ahead. Sabatino suggests getting a cushy dog bed and putting it in a crate in your room. “Start by tossing treats on the bed throughout the day and telling your dog to go to bed, and have your dog sleep in the crate at night.” If Spot is unhappy, Sabatino warns, “under no circumstance should you let him out. It just teaches him that if he cries hard enough you’ll cave.”
After Spot is able to get through a few consecutive quiet nights, try removing the crate and just leaving the dog bed. But if Spot takes advantage of his freedom and tries to return to your bed, warns Sabatino: “You can’t cave. Require him to go back to bed.”
Keep food, water, and noisy toys out of the bedroom.
Dogs aren’t exactly delicate when they eat and drink, so remove the noise-making bowls (and their tempting contents) from your bedroom. And as much as Miss Daisy loves her quacking duck toy, you won’t love it if she decides to play with it in the middle of the night. If Miss Daisy needs an overnight snuggle buddy, go with a toy that’s either silent or makes squeaks only your dog can hear.
Our dogs make us feel secure, and that’s a two-way street. So it’s little wonder that everyone sleeps better when they’re together—just not too together. So tonight when you go to bed, tuck your pal into his own bed first and know you’re both in for a good night’s sleep.