Almost every day a client gives me a sheepish smile and starts a sentence with, “I know I’m not supposed to do this, but my dog sleeps on the bed.” So, I want to share my own secrets –so do mine. Not only do some of the dogs sleep on the bed, some of them get up on the couch too. Not to mention, if they are polite, I’ll throw them some scraps of food from my dinner plate. Oh, and Batman almost always goes through the doorways first. And you know what? I’m happy with this arrangement.
Batman and Bandit sleep on the bed. So far, I have not noticed any signs that either one of them is trying to dominate me. Even after three years, shy Bandit flinches if I even look at him while he is on the bed. Sometimes Batman wants to see if he can have the spot with the pillow, but all I have to do is say, “Bat, move” and he does (although sometimes he sighs).
And yet, thanks to popular television shows and several dog training books, there are lots of people out there who think it is wrong to have their dog sleep on the bed, walk ahead of them, or get a treat from their plate. I attended a training class a few years ago in which the instructor said on the first day that anyone who was letting his or her dog sleep on the bed or get up on the furniture was never going to have a well-trained dog.
Here is what I say: If you are happy with your dog’s behavior, then be happy and don’t worry what someone else says is right or wrong.
OK, I’m going to throw out some caveats. If your dog sleeps on the bed and he growls when you try to get into bed, or if he snaps at you if you ask him to get off the bed, that’s a problem. If your dog tries to put his face in your plate while you are eating or doing something else to bother you during meal times, that’s a problem (unless of course you don’t mind). But, if your dog is polite and you like the situation, then don’t stress it.
My rules are simple. If the dog isn’t bothering me and if he responds to the cues I give him, then I’m happy and he’s happy. Batman knows if he sits a foot away from me while I eat, the chances are good he will get something. If he bothers me while I’m eating, he is asked to get off the couch and he gets nothing. He also can’t growl at any other dogs or cats that might be near while I’m eating as that causes the food to go away completely. If I need more leg room in the bed, he can move or get on the floor.
When we go for a walk, if I ask Batman to “sit,” he will. If I need him to stop pulling me, I can ask him to “heel.” Otherwise, he can do whatever he wants at his end of the leash. I’m pretty sure instead of planning on how he will dominate the world; he is really just sniffing for squirrels.
So, have fun with your dog and don’t lose any more sleep. Believe me; your dog isn’t going to take over the world, at least not until he gets opposable thumbs.