You may have heard the old proverb “lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas.” Today, sleeping with pets is no longer a strange practice, and a considerable percentage of pet owners allow their pet to come to bed with them nightly.
There are arguments both for and against letting your pet sleep in the bed with you, not to mention plenty of people with a strong opinion either way. Perhaps you brought your cat or dog home with the intention of making him or her sleep in his own bed or crate, only to surrender to his cries to be let into the master bedroom. This article will discuss the pros and cons of catching zeds with your pet, as well as offer some advice for those seeking to keep their pet in a separate room.
• The presence of a pet can be greatly reassuring, especially to those who find it difficult to unwind after a long, stressful day. Falling asleep near a cat or dog can be greatly reassuring, and having a pet in the room can help nervous sleepers overcome anxiety.
• Sleeping with your pet can be a great bonding experience, as it will become a part of your pet’s routine and therefore help him feel at ease as well.
• Having a pet in the bed can disrupt your sleep habits. Cats and dogs are not necessarily sound sleepers, and may jump off the bed or move around during the night, thereby keeping you from reaching restful levels of sleep. Pets may also invite themselves to take the place of your alarm clock, waking you up an extra few minutes early for breakfast. Whilst Fido and Felix may be able to make up for a night of activity with naps the following day, you may find it difficult to concentrate at work or school due to sleep deprivation.
• If you already share your bed with a partner, this issue can cause some serious disagreements and harm to your relationship. Your partner may resent having to share space with a pet, and you may dislike having to lock your cat or dog in a different room overnight – or vice versa. If one partner constantly has to be the one to shoo a pet from the bed, this could also cause the pet to fear or dislike them, not to mention spark confusion.
• Unlike the original coiners of the saying at the start of this article, you probably won’t need to worry about waking up with fleas if your pet is given preventative treatment – but there is an element of literal truth in the connotation that pets are not the healthiest of creatures to sleep near. Asthmatics and those with allergies are the most obvious group to be negatively affected, but accidental scratches or nips can cause pain and infection. On a more serious note, there have been cases in which parasites and zoonotic diseases have passed from pet to owner via close contact, such as sharing a bed. Admittedly, the odds of contracting an illness like plague from your pet are low, but unfortunately remain within the realm of possibility.
• Some argue that sharing a bed with your dog can amplify pre-existing behavioural problems, such as dominance issues. According to this theory, sleeping near your dog can undermine your dominance or cause him to become confused about his place in the family hierarchy. If you have multiple pets in your household and only one is allowed on the bed, this can cause further behavioural issues as a result of jealousy.
There are many potential downsides to sharing your bed with a pet, but plenty of owners do so with no serious consequences, or find that the pros far outweigh the cons in terms of their personal preference. However, if your sleeping arrangements are not working out and you feel it’s time for a change, you’ll find that with some discipline it is possible to break your pet of the habit. Here’s how:
Getting your dog off the bed:
• Choose an appropriate new bed. It could be a fleece blanket or kennel with his favourite toys and soft bedding.
• Encourage your dog to settle into his new sleep space by offering him treats and lots of praise. You may also tie in a command at this stage, telling him “kennel” or “bed” each time you reward him for settling in his new sleeping space.
• Repeat step two until your dog takes to his new bed, or reliably responds to your command.
• Ensure your dog knows the bed is off-limits by training him to “get down” on command. You can do this by leading him off the bed, then praising him and only giving positive attention when he is on the ground.
• Start a routine whereby your dog is left in his bed or crate at night. This will work best if the bed is in a separate room with a door, as he may experience some separation anxiety at first.
Getting your cat off the bed:
• As with dogs, you should make sure your cat has a comfortable alternative to your bed. Choose a warm, quiet place to put a blanket or cushion. Some cats may like to sleep in a partially enclosed space, like a box or corner.
• Cats come and go during the night, but may try to wake you up to solicit food. If your cat does this, leave some food out over night – you can use a food bowl with timed release or an activity feeder to prevent overeating.
• Make sure your door is firmly closed overnight. If possible, keep your cat from directly accessing your door by putting him in a separate room – at least for the first few weeks. Be consistent. Whatever your preference, it’s important that once you have made your decision to keep your pet in or out of your room at night you are prepared to stick with it. Adjusting a cat or dog to a new routine can be very stressful for them, so always try to use positive reinforcement whenever possible.
(Article Source – Pets 4 Homes)