Like having babies, expectant pet parents create expectations for when they bring the newest furry member of the family home. You’ll enforce rules of the house from the beginning — no jumping on guests, no begging at the dinner table, no pulling or barking while on a walk and no lounging on the furniture. But pet parenthood doesn’t always go as planned. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you bend your rules.

Man's Best Friend

Couch Cuddles

OK, you folded. You know that dogs increase the wear and tear on your couch. Dog fur and dirt start to coat the cushions, but your favorite part of the evening is cuddling up while watching a movie and napping with your BFF. Thriving Canine brings up the question of whether couch privileges create a deeper bond or dog dominance. It comes down to personal preference and what type of relationship you want to establish; however, here are some cons to consider:

  • Territorial: Permission to take over the sofa can lead dogs to believe they’re equal or above in the pet-owner hierarchy. Owners shouldn’t dismiss aggressive behaviors like growling or snapping when told to get off. Treatment as an equal member of the family can transfer to disobeying other household rules and owner commands.
    One way to negotiate enjoying your pet on furniture, while establishing boundaries, is to train your dog to move over when you choose to sit in a certain spot or only hop up when invited. You can also train your dog to know that certain furniture in the home is off limits and that anytime you give the “off” command, they know their status is to follow the order.
  • Inconsistency: If you let your dog onto the couch, you can’t expect him to stay off the furniture when guests are over or when your pup is a guest at someone else’s home. It’ll also take work to re-train your dog to stay off the furniture if you bring a new baby into the dynamic, for example.
  • Health: Dogs bring with them outdoor dirt, germs, hair and debris (which can aggravate human allergies), as well as the potential for disease. Zoonotic diseases can be transmitted from animals to humans and increase the risk of parasitic and fungal infections (although rare).

Bed Buddies

The same concerns, from undermining your leadership to cleanliness and hygiene, apply to allowing your dog to sleep in bed with you. Co-sleeping can also lower the quality of your sleep and possibly interfere with your relationship. Dogs that learn to own the bed can affect intimacy issues and even create jealously between couples says Rover.com. Despite these concerns, a large percentage of dogs still sleep with their owners. According to the American Pet Products Association, it’s because of these benefits:

  • Comfort and Companionship: The American Kennel Club says co-sleeping eases anxieties in humans. The experience of falling asleep and waking up to a beloved pet can suppress depression. Touching a dog boosts the “love hormone” and feel-good chemical in the brain, says Rover.com.
  • Sense of Safety and Security: Pups become a child’s best friend and can calm a little one at bedtime. The warmness creates a protective, serene sleeping environment. This type of endearing attachment will take a toll on your bed linens, but many believe it is worth the cost of replacing a child’s worn-out bedding.
  • Relaxation: Unlike a spouse’s snoring, a pup’s rhythmic breathing can lull an owner to sleep. Co-snoozing is soothing and can help overcome insomnia. If sleeping right alongside your dog causes too many disturbances, you can still benefit from having your pooch sleep in your room, but on their own dog bed.

Ultimately, the choice is yours; however, consistency is key. If one member of your family lets your dog on the couch whereas another doesn’t — or if you suddenly try to kick your pet out of the bed, it’s not really fair. But as the human, you do have the privilege to establish or change the rules. It just requires thorough training and follow-through.

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Filed under: All About Dogs

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