Is it OK that my pet sleeps on my bed?


If you don’t want your dog on the bed, then there is only one effective and humane way to change the habit: A combination of consistency and rewards. Photos: dpa

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Some find it cuddly, but others would never let a dog or cat sleep with them – whether pets are allowed in bed with you is a personal decision.

It might be cosy being in bed with a puppy, but do you still want to fall asleep with an adult dog on your bed? If not, then you need to make the bed a no-go zone from day one.

Lea Schmitz of the German Animal Welfare Association advises people to think carefully about the issue before they get a pet.

“If jumping into bed is allowed at first, and then not, the dog will not know what behaviour is expected of it,” she says.

Precautions against parasites

If you allow the animal to stay in the bed, there are some important points – especially in terms of safety and hygiene.

“You should bear in mind that there are diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans and vice versa,” Schmitz says.

Fleas and ticks can also carry diseases, and several worm species can be transferred from dogs to humans. The same goes for skin fungal infections and giardia, which can cause intestinal problems. Regular parasite prevention is therefore important, and this should be done regardless of whether the animal is allowed in bed with you or not.

It’s also especially important to check cats. “They should be examined regularly for fleas and ticks and treated against these parasites,” Schmitz says.

Cats can carry all sorts of nasty things, including roundworms, toxoplasmosis, bartonellosis and the so-called cat plague. People with a weak immune system, babies, and small children are particularly at risk.

No animals in babies’ and toddlers’ beds

Dogs and cats should always be banned from the beds of babies and toddlers. Not only could a child be scratched or bitten, there’s also the danger of babies suffocating, “for example, if the dog lies down on the child’s face or paws the blanket over the child”, warns Schmitz.

Sandra Ross from the Four Paws animal welfare organisation recommends taking a stance your pet will understand from the start.

“Clear rules must be set and then enforced,” she says. “Consistency is just as important a point as praise for the desired behaviour.”

In concrete terms, this means that as soon as the dog jumps into the bed, you put it back into its basket.

“If the dog stays in the basket, praise it,” says Ross.

As an alternative, the dog should be given a cosy place to sleep where it can stretch out completely. This should be neither in direct sunlight nor in a draught, and should be in a quiet corner rather than a transit area.

It could be that as your pet grows, you come to realise that it was not such a good idea to allow it in bed with you. With a little patience, you can overcome this problem through training it to sleep elsewhere.

To avoid the dog becoming confused, the training must be particularly consistent and commands must be very clear, says Ross. “That means no exceptions must be allowed.”

She warns against harsh punishments, though. “The combination of praise when the dog behaves as desired and consistency is the right way.”

Training cats

It’s often more difficult to keep cats away from your bed – but not impossible. “Cats can also be trained,” says Ross.

Cat training follows the same principle as for dogs – no punishment, but praise and consistency. If your cat jumps on the bed, take it down again and place it on its scratching post, for example, where it is praised. “Over time, the cat learns that it is simply not worth jumping on the bed,” says Ross.

Regardless of whether the cat is allowed to sleep in the bed or not, you should always offer it at least one alternative place to sleep. Cats like to sleep either in elevated positions, where they feel well protected, or in comfortable little nooks. – dpa/Maria Berentzen

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