There is no definitive age at which all dogs should be allowed to sleep in bed with their owners. The appropriate age depends on factors like the dog’s training, temperament, and size. Many experts recommend waiting until the dog is at least 6 months to 1 year old before allowing them to sleep in bed, as younger dogs may not have full bladder control or the training to sleep through the night. Larger breed dogs may need to wait even longer, like 18-24 months, since they mature more slowly. So consider your specific dog’s maturity level and needs, and wait until they consistently demonstrate polite bed manners before making them a permanent bed buddy.
When Should Puppies Start Sleeping in Bed?
Most puppies under 6 months old should not be sleeping in bed with their owners. There are several reasons for this:
Puppies generally cannot hold their bladders through the night until they are around 6 months old. Allowing them to sleep in bed will likely lead to middle-of-the-night accidents and ruined sheets and mattresses. It’s better to keep puppies contained at night, either in a crate or small dog bed, so they learn to hold their bladders and bowels overnight.
Biting and Chewing
Puppies are very mouthy, and love to bite and chew, especially at night. Letting a puppy sleep in bed sets them up to potentially chew on fingers, toes, hair, sheets, blankets, and pillows. It’s best to keep them safely contained at night while they are teething.
Lack of Manners
Young puppies simply don’t understand manners like not jumping on the bed or staying on their own spot. Letting them sleep in the bed too early can allow bad habits to form, like territoriality over the owner’s sleeping space. It’s best to wait until a puppy matures and can follow basic commands before inviting them onto the bed.
Puppies are active and restless at night. If allowed to sleep in bed, they are likely to wake up owners with playful nibbling, zoomies, and requests to be let outside. Crating or containing puppies allows both pup and owner to get better sleep at night.
Free roaming puppies can fall off beds or get trapped in dangerous spots like between the headboard and wall. Containing them in a crate or small dog bed helps prevent scary middle-of-the-night accidents.
When Can Dogs Start Sleeping in Bed?
Most experts recommend waiting until a puppy is at least 6 months old before allowing them to sleep in bed part-time with supervision. However, large breed dogs may need to wait even longer, like 1-2 years, since they mature more slowly. Here are some signs a dog is ready for bed privileges:
- Able to sleep through the night without needing potty breaks
- No longer chewing or mouthing at night
- Can settle down to sleep without bothering owners
- Doesn’t display territoriality over sleeping space
- Comes when called if they try to jump off bed
- No signs of separation anxiety at night
The first few times a dog sleeps in bed should involve supervision. This allows owners to correct inappropriate behavior like excessive movement, chewing, or barking. Some owners find it helpful to provide dog beds on the floor next to their bed during this adjustment period.
Consider Large Breed Exceptions
Large breed dogs like Labradors, retrievers, shepherds, and Newfoundlands take a much longer time to mature, usually between 18-24 months. Allowing them to sleep in bed too early can exacerbate joint issues, damage developing bones, and lead to territorial behavior. It’s best to wait until at least 18 months with supervision, or 24 months for full bed privileges.
Setting Up Your Dog for Success
Making sure your dog has the right training and preparation will set them up to smoothly transition to sleeping in bed when the time comes. Here are some tips:
Crate Train Properly
Crate train your dog gradually and use treats and toys to help them enjoy their crate. This prevents separation anxiety at night when you do transition them to the bed.
Teach Basic Commands
Dogs should know commands like “off” and “settle” before earning bed privileges so owners can direct their behavior at night.
Make sure your dog gets sufficient physical and mental exercise during the day to prevent restlessness at night.
Establish a Routine
Put your dog to bed at the same time every night and take them out for a last bathroom break right before bedtime. This helps them understand bedtime expectations.
Use Dog Beds
Place comfy dog beds on the floor next to your bed so your dog has an alternative sleeping spot when they first transition to the bedroom.
Reward Calm Behavior
When your dog settles calmly on their dog bed at night, reward them with praise and treats. This reinforces the desired behavior in your bedroom.
Common Concerns About Dogs Sleeping in Beds
While most dog owners welcome their pups into bed eagerly, there are some common concerns to consider:
Dogs in bed can worsen allergies. Use allergen covers on mattresses and wash bedding frequently if allergies are a problem.
Frequent vacuuming and washing sheets can help manage dog hair. Some owners use old sheets on top of regular bedding to reduce hair transfer.
If your dog displays territorial growling or aggression on the bed, go back to having them sleep in a crate or dog bed until behavior improves with training.
Need for Space
Some owners feel crowded with a dog in bed. Use dog beds nearby so the dog has an alternate sleeping space when needed.
Dogs in bed can cause intimacy problems. Crate your dog or have them sleep in another room a few nights a week to preserve private time.
Setting Up Your Bedroom for Success
Making some adjustments to your bedroom can help set up your dog for safe, calm behavior overnight:
- Place water bowls away from the bed to reduce middle-of-the-night drinking
- Keep toys on dog beds so your pup settles there first
- Use baby gates to block access if your dog tries to wander at night
- Keep the room cool and comfortable for restful sleep
- Try calming essential oils or white noise machines
- Ensure the room is safely dog-proofed with no hazards
Enforcing Rules from Day One
It’s important to set ground rules for your dog sleeping in bed from the very first night. Be consistent in enforcing these expectations:
- Command “off” or “go to your bed” for unwanted jumping on the bed
- Don’t allow playful nibbling, pawing, or chewing during bedtime
- Direct your dog to use their own dog bed if they try to crowd you
- Reward calm sleeping behavior with praise, never attention for negative behavior
- Take your dog outside right before bed and as soon as you wake up
- Use crates or containment if your dog misbehaves repeatedly at night
Considerations for Different Dog Breeds and Sizes
Certain breeds and sizes of dogs may need special considerations for sleeping in beds. Here are a few:
Small dogs like Chihuahuas, toy poodles, and Shih Tzus typically reach maturity faster and can be invited into bed as young as 6-12 months old with proper training.
Most medium sized dogs like Corgis, spaniels, hounds, and bulldogs can start sleeping in bed around 1 year old.
As mentioned previously, it’s ideal to wait until at least 18 months for most large breed dogs like retrievers, shepherds, Boxers, and Akitas. Super giant breeds may need to wait until 2 years old.
Arthritic, elderly dogs and those with mobility issues often appreciate sleeping in a soft bed with their owners. Make allowances for potty breaks and discomfort.
Sleeping in bed with their person can help some anxious dogs feel more secure at night. Just be watchful for signs of separation anxiety.
New Rescue Dogs
It’s usually best to have newly adopted rescue dogs sleep in crates or dog beds while adjusting to their new home before inviting them into the human bed.
Is it Ever Too Late to Have a Dog Sleep in Bed?
For most well-trained adult dogs under 10 years old without arthritis, it is never too late to teach them proper bed manners. Follow these tips for a smooth transition:
- Start by allowing them one hour in bed, then increase time gradually
- Feed them and take them out right before bed to avoid accidents
- Use commands like “off” and “settle” to shape behavior
- Reward calmness with treats and praise
- Place dog beds nearby for an alternative sleeping spot
- Use crates initially if your dog seems overwhelmed by the new space
With patience and consistency, even older dogs can learn to enjoy sleeping in bed politely. But go slowly and be prepared to go back a step if they display anxiety or problematic behavior in your bed.
Are there Any Dogs That Should Never Sleep in Beds?
While most dogs can be trained to sleep in their owner’s beds politely, there are some exceptions where it is best not to allow bed privileges:
- Dogs with a history of bite risk or aggression
- Dogs who show defensive territorial behavior over sleeping areas
- Senior dogs with painful arthritis or mobility issues
- Dogs with separation anxiety who become destructive
- Dogs who are not fully house-trained or have frequent accidents
- Dogs with excessive nighttime activity or restlessness
- Dogs who overheat easily or have respiratory issues
The risks of fighting, falls, smothering, and stress outweigh the benefits for these dogs. They (and their owners!) sleep safest and most comfortably in a dog bed or crate.
Choosing the Best Dog Bed for Your Bedroom
For dogs that split time between a dog bed and your bed, or sleep exclusively in their own bed, choose a comfortable dog bed for your bedroom:
Look for soft, washable materials like microfiber or synthetic fur to mimic your bed’s comfort.
Measure your dog sleeping and choose a bed that allows them to stretch out and change positions.
Consider nesting or bolstered beds for security. Older dogs often enjoy pillow-top orthopedic beds.
Heating or cooling features help regulate your dog’s temperature for better sleep.
While expensive beds are tempting, many budget-friendly options provide excellent comfort too.
Put your dog’s bed on the floor right beside your bed for easy access at night.
Troubleshooting Common Sleeping in Bed Problems
While minor misbehavior is expected during the adjustment period, take steps to correct unwanted bedtime behaviors in your dog:
|Chewing sheets, blankets, pillows
|Keep chew toys on their dog bed and use crates or containment if chewing persists
|Restlessness, pacing, excessive movement
|Make sure they get enough daytime activity, and use commands like “settle” at night
|Jumping on or off the bed
|Teach and enforce “off” and “on” commands for the bed
|Crowding or pushing owners
|Direct your dog to use their own bed or crate for the night
|Accidents or marking
|Reinforce housetraining. Restrict access to beds until accidents stop
If you take the time to properly train your dog and set up a safe, comfortable sleeping environment, allowing them to sleep in bed with you can benefit both owner and pup. While the ideal age varies based on breed and individual maturity, most dogs should wait until at least 6 months old and demonstarte polite bed manners first. With realistic expectations, consistency, and patience during the transition, your dog will quickly become a welcome bed buddy and reliable sleeping companion.