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How to Share a Bed with a Golden Retriever
We have all watched the scenario play out in our favourite movies and television shows; the family dog snuggled at the foot of the bed, silently protecting their owners throughout the night. So, when we sit down and watch movies like; Marley & Me or Turner and Hooch, our respective hearts melt at the sight of these animals being fiercely protective of their owners and we weep openly when they die. There are some dog owners who have ingrained within their pets the bed is for humans only and not a place open to them but then are owners like myself who have no resolve when it comes to sleeping arrangements. Sawyer, my families golden retriever, usually sleeps in my sisters bed when at home, in the city, or my bed when we are away at the cottage (my bed in the city is a few miles away, in my apartment).
I know, we are already looked down upon by trainers and breeders alike for lifting her off the ground to hug her. Sawyer, of course, has grown into a very neurotic dog but, one that is, fiercely loyal.
Unfortunately, sleeping with Sawyer is not for the faint of heart or those who would consider themselves light sleepers, she is, by nature, a forceable cuddler. Unlike the dogs in the movies who opt to sleep at the foot of the bed, or curled up on the unoccupied side, allowing their owner a perfectly uninterrupted nights sleep, Sawyer prefers to lie behind your head, curled up on your legs or she lays her head on your chest.
The night always starts like in the movies but ends with someone being body-checked off the bed or suddenly waking up gasping for air or trying to move the dreaded dead-legs in the morning. So, if you have a dog like mine, I cannot imagine we are all alone in the world, I have some tips to successfully sleep through the night with your neurotic, pillow-hogging, blanket stealing, body-checking, but loveable dog.
Own Your Space
The first step to owning your space (and ridding yourself of the giant eye-bags you have been hauling around everyday) is setting clear boundaries with your dog, before you climb into bed together. There are some experts who believe sleeping in the same bed as your dog lowers your pack-status and puts you, in the dogs mind, on the same level. They warn opening your bed to your dog could send mixed messages of dominance and you could lose control of your animal when it no longer looks at you to be in a position of power.
I honestly believe sharing a bed with your dog depends solely on the personality of your dog and your own beliefs on the matter. Usually the best pets are ones who are brought up in an environment of mutual trust and respect for one another, so if you don't mind being forcibly cuddled or waking up to a paw in your face then you shouldn't have any problems. If you are worried your dog will impede your rest then try to teach them boundaries while on the bed. My mother picked up a handy trick in Modern Dog magazine where you are to lay their blanket on the unoccupied side (or bottom of bed) which sends them a clear message of their space on the mattress.
There are some instances where you should not be sharing your bed with your dog and they are:
- If they are unruly, bratty or spoiled and routinely nip, bite or growl when you enter their space. These dogs should not be extended the privilege of sharing your bed and should be kept off all furniture, until they learn manners.
- If your dog suffers from severe separation-anxiety and cannot be away from you for more than a few seconds at a time. Allowing them to sleep with you only feeds the need to be around you all the time and should be avoided. They need to learn how to be okay with being alone before you open up your bed to them.
Remember, there are many experts who would warn against sleeping in the same bed as your dog but there are non-experts who have not had a problem. They might be the cutest dog since Sawyer, but remember to ask yourself, a) are you a strong leader in the relationship b) are they emotionally stable and secure, and c) are they well-behaved and respectful, you should never share a bed with a dog who cannot share toys or space.
Hygiene in the Bedroom, Please!
There have been several reports in the last two years asserting the notion sleeping with your pet could be potentially harmful to your health, mainly contracting an infection from them or having your bed infested by fleas. Though there is a chance of some infections being spread from pet to person, it is a rare, but some examples are:
- cat-scratch disease
- chagas disease
- H1N1 virus
- yellow fever
These infections and viruses which can be passed from animal to people are listed under the medical term; zoonosis. The stress over these infections or viruses being passed to your by your dogs-germs can be minimized with regular veterinary visits, which should already be scheduled. Being a responsible pet-owner will not only ensure you're raising a happy and healthy dog but keeping yourself and family healthy, as well.
So, next time you're watching a movie and you see the big, loveable, golden retriever climb into bed next to their owner, know you can have the same thing. There is nothing more enjoyable than snuggling up to a big warm-ball of unconditional love, especially on nights you're feeling depressed and cold. Just remember to ask yourself "is my dog ready for this?" instantly followed by "am I mature enough to share the blankets?"
The latter question was a joke, you won't have them in the morning anyway, so I would keep a spare duvet on the floor beside the bed.
S writes for the collaborative website The Twenties Project but, often times, can be found procrastinating his life away on YouTube, watching interesting videos and old soap operas. He is also one of those annoying dog people who likes to bring up his golden retriever, Sawyer in every conversation.
Hey, did you know I have the cutest golden retriever named Sawyer? Oh wait, I think I have some photos of her on my phone.