We don’t necessarily brag about it, there can be some embarrassment behind this practice, for fear of judgment, and yet… many people sleep with their dog or cat. It is therefore difficult to have a precise idea of the frequency of co-sleeping with your animal. In the United States, according to a survey dated February 2022, (survey commissioned by Sealy and conducted by OnePoll of 2000 Americans)this would be the case for 66% of respondents.
And when we ask fans what they get out of it, it’s unanimous: a natural hot water bottle, calming, peaceful, a calming side… Like Sylvia: “I sleep with my shih-tzu, it gives me serenity and complicity and I think it’s the same from his side. She often sighs lightly and sometimes dreams while giving little muffled barks, I think that’s too cute.”
And everyone has their own little anecdote about their animal’s preferences: there are those who slip under the covers, those who appreciate the softness of the pillows, those who lie on the bed but without necessarily looking for contact, or those who come to consume the pillows. place when the spouse is up.
Heart rates are synchronized
The benefits of sleeping with your dog or cat are real: from a very practical point of view, they are a source of heat, as their body temperature is slightly higher than ours. This is also why the Eskimos sleep with their dogs and why, as Jasmine Chevallier, veterinarian and behavioral consultant, tells us: “There is an expression three dog nightsto represent a freezing night that requires not one, not two, but three dogs to brave the cold”.
The presence of an animal by his side is also extremely soothing. Research has shown that the heart rate of a human and their dog sleeping together synchronizes and slows down, promoting sleepiness and relaxation.
A dog will also bring a sense of security when you are in the grip of certain nocturnal worries. For singles, the animal is a bulwark against loneliness. As for people in a couple, according to the survey above, 60% admit that they prefer sleeping with their animal over their partner! Benjamin testifies: “Spin is more pleasant than snoring”.
“It must not be the dog’s bed”
For a long time, however, the training rules encouraged not to sleep with your dog, as the bed was a privilege that should be reserved for the dominant, namely the owner. So what does our behaviorist think? “You can put your dog on the bed, but you have to make sure that when you ask him to get off, he does so immediately. It should not be the dog’s bed, but the human bed. A good sign is when the dog asks permission before going upstairs. Also, the ideal is not to install a puppy there immediately, at the risk of never being able to go back.
However, Jasmine Chevallier continues to warn about two profiles of dogs for whom co-sleeping can be problematic. The first concerns dogs with a social relationship disorder: presence on the bed will no longer be a source of pleasure, but a power problem. “These dogs will start to do resource protection. For example, they can tolerate a human in bed but not the spouse. Some will go so far as to growl when the owner moves or turns under the covers. The bed belongs to them and they are in a permanent state of supervigilance, so that no one sleeps well.” In this kind of case, it is essential to prohibit access to the bed and to the room (in addition to other adjustments in the environment and in the relationship with the animal).
Hygienic precautions to take
The second risk profile is dogs that are with their owner all day, and therefore also at night. “They find it difficult to achieve emotional autonomy, they don’t know how to be alone. The permanent link must not become decisive for their well-being”.
Apart from these warnings, sleeping with your dog is not contraindicated and will not cause behavioral problems.
The issue of hygiene does not seem to concern co-sleeping enthusiasts. Treatment against external parasites and worms is recommended. “I clean his paws and underbelly every time we come back from a walk. And I change the bedding more often”, explains Anne-Marie about her jack russel Oscar.
As for cats, some of which are very dynamic at night, they do not necessarily manage to adapt to the rhythm of human sleep, which can be a source of misunderstandings and nocturnal tensions. In this case, we isolate the cat outside the room until he understands that at night all cats are definitely gray, but above all, it is time to rest.