SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

January 18, 2013

Can I let my dog sleep on the bed?

Ask Dog Lady
Monica Collins

---- — Q: I’ve heard that it’s not correct to have a dog sleep in the bed with you. But regardless of how many beds or blankets I give for my little one to sleep on the floor, when I wake up in the morning, she’s curled up beside me on the bed. Should I just cave in and let her sleep on the bed with me? Why aren’t dogs supposed to sleep on the bed?

A: A dog in the bed is one of the great pleasures of canine companionship — for humans and for these pack animals we bring into our homes and yearn to snuggle up and keep close.

Oh sure, some naysayers wag their fingers and tell you it’s not healthy to lie down with a dog, that you’re bringing all sorts of yucky germs into your bed. (Let’s not go there to imagine how many more germs you pick up from humans). Also, canine behaviorists warn the practice can delude a dog into feeling entitled to the pillow land. The dog could become aggressive about guarding the territory. This is very true, but you can control behavior by “inviting” the dog on the bed and ordering the dog “off” if your pet shows any signs of possession. Remember, it’s your bed, and you decide whether you want to let sleeping dogs lie.

Q: My boyfriend thinks it would be a neat idea to go to a trendy hotel for Valentine’s Day with his dog, Butch, and me. Butch is this bull mastiff who’s the size of a farm animal. I’m wary of the dog, although I pretend to like him. Butch has never done anything except ignore me, but the beast looks very scary. I’m afraid he could turn on me in a second.

Apparently, the hotel is hosting a dog-friendly event. My boyfriend wants the three of us to go and celebrate. I grit my teeth and told him it sounded like fun. I lied. I dread spending time with my boyfriend and the beast. Can you think of a good excuse to get out of it?

A: Sounds like you’re not too crazy about your boyfriend either. If you were wild about the boy, no bull mastiff would ruin the party.

Dog Lady suggests a novel excuse: the truth. Tell him you don’t want to put on the dog for Valentine’s Day. See how he reacts. Your candor may open the way for the two of you to discuss the relationship because, really, at some point you’ve got to come clean about your feelings about Butch — and your boyfriend.

Even if you didn’t have a problem with the bull mastiff, it is probably best to avoid a trendy indoor mutt mixer because, truth be told, dogs don’t know how to behave at these fetes. Tails and cocktails events usually disintegrate into a yippy-yappy bowser brawl. Canines are social creatures, but they’re not party animals. They become antsy when forced to engage in polite patter instead of following their instincts and roaming freely, sniffing lots without asking permission to invade privacy.

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Monica Collins offers advice on dogs, life and love. Follow the “Ask Dog Lady” fan page on Facebook or Twitter at @askdoglady. Email questions to askdoglady@gmail.com.