Sleeping with pets: Comfortable discomfort

Many owners of dogs and cats share their bed with house pets. Some would be happy to sleep separately, but once your pet runs into the bedroom, it is hard to get rid him of it. Experts shared their opinion about the consequences of sharing the bed with pets and recommendations on achieving full night's rest without sacrifices.

Lydia Lenger, PhD., veterinarian and consultant, shared with MedPulse:

"When Ira and Peter, a married couple and the owners of Cooper, a puppy of Weimar setter, bought him, they clearly decided to keep him away from their bed. They even bought a dog house with a special bed and duvet, which guaranteed the puppy a warm comfortable place to sleep. Cooper, despite all the preparations, had other ideas. The first night he screamed, whined, barked and cried. The couple endured this for six hours, but then took the dog into their bed, where it remained for the next two years. "He sleeps between us, under the blanket, with his head on the pillow," said Irina. "He probable thinks he is a human being."

A pet in the master bed is a familiar phenomenon. According to a recent survey of pet owners, almost half of the dogs sleep with their owners. The study revealed that 62% of small dogs, 41% of medium-sized dogs, and 32% of large dogs sleep in the beds of their owners. The survey also indicated that 62% of cats sleep with their owners, while another 13% spend the night in the bed with children.

Is it safe to sleep hugging your pet? Those who suffer from allergies or asthma are recommended by doctors to not allow the animals even in the bedroom. However, very few people would refuse the embrace of their pet, even despite allergies. To make it easier on yourself, leave your dog or cat next to your bed and often ventilate the bedroom. Frequent cleaning would be helpful. However, if you do not have allergies, a pet in the bed is not a problem provided it does not prevent you from sleeping. Studies from the American Center for Sleep Disorders showed that approximately half of their patients owned a dog or a cat, and 53% of the owners admitted that their pets do not let them sleep. The dogs snore and breathe hard, clatter claws on hardwood floor or just walk in the night from one room to another. Cats love sleeping on the owner's feet or stomach, which interferes with full night's sleep. Experts recommend reconsidering placing pets in the bedroom to those people who have sleep issues.

However, for people who have problems with falling asleep, a dog or a cat in the bed can be beneficial, experts believe. Pets may help treatment of various diseases. For example, many adults, but especially children, feel safe and peaceful hugging a large Labrador or golden retriever. As a rule, they have a very rhythmic breathing, and listening to it makes one go to sleep faster.

Even when people finally decide to get their pet out of their bed, most people find that doing so is not an easy task. Lydia M. advises customers to never let your cat sleep in your bedroom if you are not going to tolerate it for life. For cats it is all or nothing, and letting them sleep with you once, you will find it virtually impossible to kick the cat out of the bedroom. The door to your bedroom should to be either open or permanently closed to them. If, however, you allow your cat sleeping with you, but the next night change your mind, the animal will behave destructively. To avoid this, give the cat a toy that will keep it busy for the night. For example, a toy with food inside. Alternatively, place its house on the window sill with a light outside. All moths and beetles flying around the light will serve as a reality show for the cat and it will be occupied by the sight for the rest of the night.

World-renowned dog trainer Victoria Stilwell says that if your dog has no behavioral problems, you can let it sleep in your bed. In fact, from the perspective of a dog, it is a compliment. "Dogs sleep only with people or dogs they trust," says Stilwell. However, aggressive or dominant dogs should not be allowed to sleep on the beds. In any case, if pets are becoming a problem, they should leave the bedroom. "I had a client," says Stilwell, "who slept with three large dogs. When the family had a child, one of the dogs began to growl and bare its teeth as soon as the child approached the bed. Finally, the owners were forced to buy three large beds and teach dogs to leave them on command." Make the game out of the process: every time, use more praise and pet them as soon as they leave your site. Be consistent - do not let the dog climb onto the bed again, no matter how difficult it may be. Of course, you will have a few sleepless nights, but you would have to endure.

This was the case with the Weimar setter puppy, Cooper, that we talked about in the beginning of the story. The puppy was sleeping with the owners since he was eight weeks old. When Cooper was two years old, the family got a second pointer - Otis. Allowing two huge dogs sleep in the owners' bed would be too much. As a result, the owners have arranged a special bed for the dogs on the floor beside the bed, and the pets are feeling great there. Otis immediately found this solution suitable, but Cooper did not. "He was sitting on the floor literally drilling us with his eyes," said the owners. The first three nights Cooper persistently tried to return to his place every 10 minutes. Then, within a month, he would wait until the owners go to sleep, and then climbed into their bed. "We sprayed him with water from a bottle each time when he tried to climb to our bed," said Irina. "Within three months we did everything possible to make him get used to his place. But it was worth it. Otherwise, we would not get full sleep and could not work properly. Now we all sleep soundly and as long as we want."

Alexander Orlov

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov