Should Your Pets Observe Bedtime?

Should your pet have a "bedtime"? Is it good to allow him to sleep in your bed? Do you let him in once he starts whining at the door during bedtime? These are all questions every pet owner wants to answer.

It's such a universal query that even USA Today made an effort to ask (and answer) the question. But every pet parent knows that bedtime routines with our precious furballs are rarely, if ever, actually routine. 

Pet bedtimeThat's our doggie, sleeping on - you guessed it - my pillow.

Like our human children, our “fur kids” have minds and moods of their own.  Despite our best efforts, we often find ourselves at their furry whim rather than running the show when the sun goes down.Most dog owners start out with good intentions.  We have a plan.  We are going to bring home a puppy to join our family, and it is going to grow into the best-behaved dog the world has ever known.  We do our homework, research breeds, learn all about their temperaments and likes and dislikes. 

Then, the big day comes and we realize that, like people, each and every dog out there has a personality all his own.  In many cases, this means that even if we lay down the ground rules, our furry little buddies are going to be the ones who decide how things are going to go.

Pet Bedtime: Should You Share Your Bed?

Yes, our pets usually take the lead when it comes to sleeping hours. At no time is this more apparent that when it’s time to turn in for the night. 

While some people derive great comfort from snuggling down with their furry friend, others have a no-Fido rule when it comes to getting between the sheets.  But rule or no rule, most dogs will jump right into bed with us given the opportunity.   Dirty paws, stinky breath, slobbery mouth and all.

How to “Bed-Train” Your Pet

Co-sleeping with your dog can certainly be comforting, but even if you love nothing more than to snuggle up with your four-legged friend at night, or generally can’t get to sleep without the familiar warmth and weight cozying up your feet, chances are you are going to want some canine-free bedtime at least every once in a while.

  • In order to make sure that you are able to hit the sack without your dog when the fancy strikes, it is a good idea to make sure your pooch has one of his own dog beds that he feels comfortable snoozing in when yours isn’t available.  While this might seem like a simple idea, the truth is that most dogs have a favorite sleep spot, and they know the difference between taking a nap during the day and turning in for the night.  Your dog may be more than happy to sleep in one of his own dog beds when the sun is shining, but he may sing a different tune when he sees you headed toward what he likely sees as his bed at night.
  • Proper training is the best way to ensure that your dog knows where he’s allowed to sleep and when.  If you generally bed down with your pet and only kick him out of your bed on occasion, he may think he’s in some kind of trouble or has done something wrong to get banished from the big bed. 
  • To avoid hurt feelings, use positive reinforcements instead of a stern voice. For instance, instead of scolding your pooch out of the bedroom, use treats to let him know that you love him, even if you aren’t in the mood to listen to his dog snores for the next 8 hours.

No matter how you choose to handle nighttime sleeping arrangements as a pet parent, it is important to remember how much comfort you get from cuddling up with your little guy.  Keep in mind that as much as you love to snuggle with him, he loves to snuggle with you. 

When he’s crying at the door at one in the morning, he’s not trying to drive you insane; he’s reminding you how much he loves and misses your company.  You’re his person, after all, and he wants nothing more than to dream right alongside you, even if you do hog the blankets.

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