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Dog Bed? Pets Take Over Your Bed, But Should You Let Them?

By    |   Monday, 12 Jan 2015 03:34 PM

When you lie down with dogs, your emotional well-being can benefit, some experts say. Others contend pet owners who let their dogs share their bed are barking up the wrong tree.

Owners sharing beds with dogs are fairly common, according to Psychology Today. It quoted a recent survey that indicated about half of all dog owners allowed their pets to sleep in the bed with them, with the highest percentage single females between the ages of 18 and 34.

Married men over 45 years old were found most likely to kick the dog out of the bed, the survey indicated.

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Disagreements among couples over allowing pets in the bed are not new, Psychology Today said. It told of how 1800s Army Gen. George Armstrong Custer’s wife Libbie objected so strenuously to the presence of dogs on their bed that they reached a compromise: When Custer was home the dogs could sleep in their bedroom but not on their bed. In the field, Custer shared his cot with his dogs.

For most people, having a dog in bed is psychologically comforting, Psychology Today said. It added, "The dog serves as a loving companion close at hand, and it keeps you from feeling lonely or insecure no matter how dark the night."

Touching, human or otherwise, raises levels of oxytocin in the body, creating a feeling of contentment, according to the New York Times. It said the comfort that an unconditionally loving animal provides in bed is an emotional balm, especially for the lonely, anxious, or depressed.

The Times reported that Cesar Millan, the hard-nosed dog trainer known for his former National Geographic Channel TV Series "The Dog Whisperer," agrees, though he believes the dog should be invited up — just to show it the real leader of the pack — and the human should choose the part of the bed where the dog sleeps.

Thehyperpup.com emphasizes that puppies don’t remain puppies for long. As a cautionary tale, it told of an innocent 12-pound puppy that morphed into a 56-pound dog that splayed out on her back in bed like a drunken sailor, belly up, legs open, eyes closed, tongue out, and taking up half the bed.

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A primary issue with allowing big dogs to sleep in the owner’s bed is that some become territorial, thehyperpup.com said. It indicated owners can avoid that by setting clear and consistent limits with their dogs.

Fleas and disease are also concerns when owners and pets share a bed.

Vetinfo.com said dogs can pick up fleas and other parasites, such as tapeworm, which can spread to their owners. Dogs can also cause their owners to acquire fungal infections of the skin, the site said.

Owners suffering from allergies or insomnia may well find their conditions worsening as a result of their sharing their bed with their pets, according to Vetinfo.com.

People sleeping with pets also might get bitten. The Times told of how a kinkajou, a tiny raccoon-related creature, sank its teeth into socialite Paris Hilton while sleeping with her at 3 a.m. at her home.

Vetinfo.com said a pet owner who allows a dog to sleep in his or her bed could lower the owner’s "status" within the "pack" and leave the dog more likely to challenge his or her authority.

It suggested owners consider the compromise alternative of letting their dog sleep at the foot of the bed.

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When you lie down with dogs, your emotional well-being can benefit, some experts say. Others contend pet owners who let their dogs share their bed are barking up the wrong tree.
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Monday, 12 Jan 2015 03:34 PM
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