Many dog owners wonder if it’s okay to let their canine companion sleep alone at night instead of in the bed with them. There are pros and cons to both approaches, and the right choice depends on your individual dog’s personality and needs.
Here are quick answers to some common questions about letting dogs sleep alone:
- Is it cruel? Not necessarily. As long as the dog has a comfortable bed and feels safe, they can sleep fine alone.
- Will my dog feel abandoned? Dogs that are very bonded to their owners may feel anxious or sad if suddenly left alone at night. Gradual training is best.
- Is my dog more likely to develop separation anxiety? Possibly, if they are very attached to you and sleeping together has become a strong routine.
- What if my dog cries or barks? Try providing comfort like a shirt with your scent or a stuffed animal. However, don’t reward negative behavior by bringing them into your bed.
- Where should my dog sleep? Provide them with their own dog bed in your bedroom or just outside your room.
The Pros of Letting your Dog Sleep Alone
Here are some of the potential benefits of having your dog sleep separately from you:
- More space in your bed for you and your partner
- No disruptions from your dog moving around
- You can stick to a consistent sleep routine
- May prevent unhealthy codependent behavior
- Lets your dog learn to self-soothe and be independent
Having your own space in bed can help you sleep better instead of having a dog right up against you or taking up room in the bed. Dogs tend to move around a lot, scratch, snore, and disrupt your sleep cycles. By keeping them off the bed, your rest won’t be interrupted.
Having your dog nearby but not in the bed also encourages healthy independence. Some dogs can become velcro dogs who follow you everywhere and demand constant attention. Giving them their own designated sleeping area helps teach them to be comfortable alone and prevent codependent behavior problems.
The Cons of Separate Sleeping Spaces
However, there are also some downsides to making your dog sleep in their own bed away from you:
- Your dog may feel sad, lonely, or rejected
- They may have trouble settling down at night
- An anxious dog may bark, whine or pace at night
- Dogs gain comfort and security from sleeping with their pack
- Interruptions if your dog tries to get on the bed with you
One of the biggest cons is your dog feeling like they are being excluded from the pack by being made to sleep alone. Dogs are social animals that in the wild would sleep huddled together for safety and comfort. Being banished from the bedroom may be upsetting.
This can result in crying, barking or whining at night when your dog wants attention or to be let on the bed. Anxious dogs may pace and never settle down. Leaving a dog alone when they are scared or overattached to you can exacerbate separation anxiety.
Is it Okay for Puppies to Sleep Alone?
Puppies usually should not be made to sleep alone. Young puppies need constant access to warmth, comfort, and their mother while they are still nursing. Once they are weaned and go to their new homes, puppies still require nighttime care and monitoring.
Having puppies sleep in a crate right beside your bed allows you to hear and respond to any cries to go potty or distress. Letting them sleep in your bed provides warmth and social comfort, reassuring them as they adjust to their new home.
Starting puppies off sleeping right next to you helps prevent separation anxiety later on. As they mature, you can begin transitioning puppies to sleep in a dog bed in your room, and eventually a bed outside your closed door once they are comfortable spending time alone.
Is it Okay for Older Dogs to Sleep Alone?
Senior dogs often benefit from sleeping in their owner’s bedroom or even on the bed. With age, cognitive decline and sensory loss means dogs have a harder time orienting themselves at night. Being close to you can provide comfort and prevent disorientation or anxiety.
Arthritis and mobility issues also make it hard for some elderly dogs to get comfortable sleeping. Letting them sleep on a soft bed with you, their favorite human, keeps them feeling safe and content. You can also monitor their health more easily.
However, if your senior dog is used to having their own space and seems comfortable sleeping alone through the night, then there is no need to change what works for your individual dog.
How to Transition Your Dog to Sleeping Alone
The key when making this change is to do it gradually. Going from sleeping in your bed to abruptly banished to another room can be traumatic. Here are some tips for a smooth transition:
- Start by moving their dog bed right next to your bed first.
- Try tethering your dog to their bed at night to prevent them from jumping on your bed.
- Give praise and treats rewarding calm, quiet behavior at night time.
- Slowly move their bed inch by inch out of the bedroom over weeks.
- Provide familiar scents and toys to comfort them.
- Use background noise like a fan or music to soothe them.
- Try an Adaptil pheromone diffuser to reduce stress.
Be patient and understanding if your dog seems distressed. You can slow down the process or try sleeping beside their bed in their room for a few nights. With time, your dog should adjust to their new nighttime arrangement.
Are Certain Dog Breeds More Prone to Separation Anxiety?
Yes, some breeds tend to become more anxious when left alone than others. Breeds that form tight bonds with their people tend to stress more when separated at night. Here are a few examples of breeds prone to separation anxiety:
|Breed||Reason for Separation Anxiety|
|Labrador Retrievers||Bred to work closely with owners. Require a lot of stimulation and contact.|
|German Shepherds||Protective, loyal dogs who form close attachments.|
|Golden Retrievers||Affable and deeply bonded with their family.|
|Chihuahuas||Naturally suspicious dogs who bond intensely with one person.|
Other predisposed breeds include Standard Poodles, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Yorkshire Terriers, and Dachshunds. While any dog can develop separation distress, these breeds are genetically inclined to be more prone.
Tips for Helping a Dog With Separation Anxiety Sleep Alone
If your dog is extremely attached and suffers from separation anxiety, sleeping alone can be very stressful. Here are some tips for making the process easier on anxious dogs:
- Ask your vet about anti-anxiety medication to use temporarily during training.
- Use calming aids like pheromones, music, or anxiety wraps.
- Provide stuffed toys with your scent for comfort.
- Feed them dinner in their new sleeping area so they associate it with you.
- Exercise them thoroughly before bedtime to tire them out.
- Use positive reinforcement to teach them to enjoy their new bed.
You may need to very gradually move their bed inch by inch over many weeks. If they regress, go back a step. Be patient and understanding. Seek help from a trainer or behaviorist if severe anxiety persists despite your best efforts.
What Are the Signs of Separation Anxiety?
How do you know if your dog is experiencing anxiety about sleeping away from you? Here are some common signs of separation distress:
- Pacing, whining, barking when you’re not around
- Chewing, digging, urinating when left alone
- Following you everywhere, even the bathroom
- Destructive behavior from stress
- Excessive salivating, trembling, hyperventilation
- Trying desperately to escape confinement
- Loss of appetite when you’re gone
Dogs with separation anxiety may also seem depressed when you leave, and overjoyed when you return. While any dog can have an adjustment period to sleeping alone, anxiety behaviors that persist despite efforts at gradual training indicate a problematic issue.
What Are the Risks of Letting Your Dog Sleep in Your Bed?
While sleeping together can feel comfy and cozy, there are some downsides to letting your pup snooze in your bed every night:
- Disruption of your sleep from your dog’s movements
- Difficulty getting them to move once they claim your spot
- Potential clashes with a partner over bed space
- Increased risk of bites or scratches in the night
- Dogs can bring in dirt, fleas, ticks to your clean bed
- You’re more likely to be exposed to pet dander and allergens
- Jumping on and off the bed can exacerbate joint issues in elderly dogs
While rarely an issue, sleeping with your dog also slightly increases the chances of spreading disease. Some common veterinary organizations recommend dogs sleep separately from you.
Working out a nighttime routine that gives your dog their own designated sleeping space, even if it’s on the floor beside you, allows you to enjoy bonding at night while managing the downsides.
Is it Okay for Dogs to Sleep Together Without Humans?
If you have multiple dogs, can they sleep alone together safely without humans? The answer depends on your dogs’ personalities and relationship.
Dogs who are closely bonded and get along well may enjoy piling together to sleep. But dogs who don’t know each other well should not be left loose together unattended, especially rescues and foster dogs.
Even friendly dogs can get into scuffles over sleeping space or resources. And dogs may become overprotective of their space from other pets when owners are gone. Leaving tense or unacquainted dogs alone could result in fights.
With proper introductions and supervised cohabitation training, most bonded, well-socialized dogs can learn to sleep near each other safely. But take precautions until you know they get along harmoniously.
Should Dog Crates Be in the Bedroom?
Most experts recommend keeping your dog’s crate in your bedroom at night. The benefits of this include:
- Keeps them closer for overnight potty trips
- Easier to supervise and respond to distress
- Feeling like part of the pack offers comfort
- Crate training success is more likely
- Eases anxiety about being excluded or isolated
Having the crate right beside your bed allows your puppy to see, smell, and hear you which reassures them. This arrangement makes crate training easier and faster in most cases.
However, some independent adult dogs may prefer sleeping in their own quiet space away from the busyness of the bedroom. Pay attention to your individual dog’s preferences.
At the end of the day, whether to let your dog sleep in your bed or have their own space is a personal decision based on your needs, lifestyle and your dog’s temperament.
Most dogs can adjust to sleeping alone with gradual training and cues that help them feel comforted and secure. But anxiety-prone dogs may struggle more with this transition. Make sure changes happen incrementally to prevent traumatic distress.
Try to view the issue from your dog’s perspective. Does being banned from the bedroom make them feel punished? Or are they perfectly content with their own cozy bed? Let your dog’s well-being guide your approach.
While there’s no universally right choice, being consistent and meeting your dog’s needs for safety and pack bonding will ensure restful nights for you both.