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Co-sleeping with baby – and dog?

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#1 daviesjv

Posted 18 May 2010 - 01:59 PM

My DH and I are expecting our first baby in a couple of months (very exciting). We are going to co-sleep with her for at least the first six months as I believe that is the most natural and best way for her to feel safe and to bond with us. However it does raise one small problem in that our beloved family dog also sleeps on our bed – what should I do?

She’s a Labrador and is the most placid dog you could imagine. We have had her since she was a puppy and she has slept on our bed ever since (she’s eight now).  She is pretty pampered, I guess you could say that she’s like our first child. And I don’t think she would take kindly to being kicked off the bed at this stage of her life (even if I wanted to do that, which I don’t). She will probably have enough difficulty adjusting to the increased competition for our attention as it is!

She sleeps at the bottom of the bed, nowhere near the pillows, so is there any real problem in co-sleeping with our new baby and our beloved dog?


Hi Tanja.

I have to say, as soon as you mention baby and dog together my mind flashes to those heartrending stories you read in the news now and then about babies and toddler mauled by family pets. It’s a bit like ocean swimming and sharks – I know that realistically problems don’t happen that often, but it’s still in my mind.

To help you out I have asked Dr Mark Lawrie, president of the Australian Veterinary Association  for some advice.

“It can be a rather tricky one when there is a baby involved,” says Dr Lawrie. “With any child under the age of ten, care must be taken that risk is minimised by dogs never being alone unsupervised with children (even if the risk is low). So that would make it awkward to always be getting your dog off the bed and out of the room when the baby is there and you are not.

Sadly for your Labrador, it is really worth considering a change in sleeping arrangements. Even old dogs are amenable to new tricks (sleeping habits) but it may take a little training. Get a nice basket bed to go on the ground and start by shifting from bed to corner of the bedroom. Use rewards - Labradors respond very well to food based rewards (surprise, surprise). Once comfortable with her new special bed, consider another room. I would recommend a small room such as a toilet or laundry, rather than large one. Your dog actually may like the “den-like” atmosphere of a more closed-in space. Shift the basket there.
Remember it is all part of a process of adjusting and best to get working on this in pregnancy.”

Tanja, Dr Lawrie reassures you that for adults, co-sleeping with a dog can be considered, provided the dog is clean, healthy and has no fleas. There are very few illnesses that can be passed from a dog to a person. “However, the dog having it’s own bed on the floor or even elsewhere may be a better option, just the same,” he adds. “Some dogs can be more prone to aggression if they spend time in areas of “high esteem” such as elevated places with the leaders of the “family pack.” If there is already some growling in trying to remove from beds, lounges, etc then just leave the lead clipped on to the collar in the house and use this to safely remove the dog (king) from the castle. You will find that it is likely to make for a more pleasant dog.
Of course, you really should talk to your vet for each individual case. They will be able to advise you or steer you in the direction of a veterinary behaviourist if necessary.”

So Tanja, maybe buy a dog bed and start the training process. And a word of encouragement - if your Labrador is anything like my Beagle, she’ll probably soon decide that the peace and quiet of a dog-bed beats sleeping with a noisy baby any day!

#2 daviesjv

Posted 19 May 2010 - 07:13 PM

I would also have to say *Gawd what about all that hair??* Labradors are terrible shedders!!
LOL. Just like our Beagle! I don't know how she manages to shed so much hair and still have a full coat!

#3 bonnybabe

Posted 20 May 2010 - 12:11 PM

I would be worried the dog would think he has an equal position in the family as the baby...

#4 pinkchutney

Posted 20 May 2010 - 07:47 PM

We too had a very pampered pooch that was our baby for nine years, before our long awaited son was born.  Although she didn't sleep on our bed (but on her own bed on the floor at the foot of our bed) I seriously never believed that after 9 years she would EVER move out of our room.  However - apparently a squawking baby, interrupting her sleep all night long made sleeping in the lounge room much more appealing!!!  So I just wanted to say - your dog may make its own decision, and make life much easier for everyone.

Because, as much as my dog was our number one for so many years - I was TOTALLY surprised by my feelings when I brought my baby home from hospital - all of a sudden I found my best mate was a worry to have around my baby - not only because I was paranoid for baby's safety - but also for 'germs'.  Yes I never would have believed my dog was grotty - but the feelings you have as a new mum may astound you!

I had also decided before his birth that I loved my dog too much to ever put her in a situation where she was able to do something that would force me to have to put her down.  I really feel that as dog lovers - if we REALLY love our animals then we would never allow them to have unsupervised access to baby/kids - just incase their primal instincts kicked in.

I have read a number of books about dog psychology (A Dog's Mind by Bruce Fogle is a good one) that explain how a dog thinks it is higher on the totem pole than a newly arrived, smaller being.  So they actually think they are helping you out by assisting in the 'discipline' of the new addition to the pack.

Sorry for long winded reply  rolleyes.gif

#5 noone special

Posted 20 May 2010 - 07:49 PM

Why would you have a dog sleeping in your bed? Feral

#6 PeptiBandit

Posted 20 May 2010 - 07:56 PM

Why would you have a dog sleeping in your bed? Feral

Agreed... Ewww...

#7 Holidayromp

Posted 21 May 2010 - 09:22 AM

Currently your dog may be your fur-baby but as soon as you come home from hospital your baby is going to take priority and unfortunately the dog is going to take a back seat - big time.  You will be so protective of your new addition and the thought of having an animal so close to your precious little one would probably put you off.  You are probably thinking that it would never happen - but it does.  I can name myself as one person - my pets took a back seat in the first year of babies life and it has been a pattern going through the birth of each of my children.  I am now pregnant with my third and know for sure that my pet will take a backseat.  As your children get older you may find that will have more time for your pets but don't count on your dog being the focus of your attention for awhile after you bring babies home.  It is time for you to set some boundaries for your dog and let it know its pecking order in the pack ie the lowest rung. Whilst I was pregnant the pets were put outside.  They were given a warm, comfortable bed in the garage and that is where they were fed.  They were allowed inside on small occasions and generally weaned off being indoors.  The last thing you want is to be cleaning up after an indoor dog as well as a baby.  Plus on top of that - your dog doesn't sound like it is used to kids and with labs when they get older they can go from the most placid of animals to a quite agressive animal when dealing with new additions.  Also you have to be mindful of feeding indoors when baby is mobile - you don't know if the dog is going to lash out at an inquisitive baby.  Plus on top of that if you decide that the dog can be kept inside but sleeping in another room it is not going to be impressed and do you really want to deal with a dog demanding to get into your room at all hours when you are sleep deprived yourself.  I would strongly recommend getting the dog used to being outside.  Have a nice warm kennel and perhaps a doggy bed under a verandah (if you have one) plenty of doggy toys and a special feeding place.  I cannot stress how important that the dog knows its place BEFORE the baby comes home otherwise you are going to set yourself up for all sorts of problems when you bring baby home and your dog is no longer the centre of your world.

#8 heffalumpsnwoozles

Posted 21 May 2010 - 01:57 PM

QUOTE (noone special @ 20/05/2010, 07:49 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Why would you have a dog sleeping in your bed? Feral

Way to add a thoughtful response to the discussion.  rolleyes.gif  I think calling your kid Jaedyn is feral.  cool.gif

As PP's have said, your outlook on your dog changes significantly when you bring your baby home. I never thought my dogs would take such a back seat. I still love them to bits but now I know what it's like to love an actual baby, the thought of my dogs as my babies is laughable. And this is from a person who used to cry in movies where an animal got injured but didn't give a toss about people.

Like a PP, I would be more worried about the dog accidentally rolling over on the baby than vicious mauling, although of course that is always a possibility too and should never be overlooked. My dogs never slept on the bed (although DH has been known to invite them up there for a cuddle every now and then) but they always shared our bedroom, and still do. They have their own beds at the end of our bed, and our babies sleep in a cradle in our bedroom until they move into their own room.

OP, do you plan to have your baby sleeping on your bed for day sleeps as well, or will they have a bassinette or similar for when you are not sleeping with them?  My worry with a dog that was used to sleeping on the bed is that he/she would still get up there when you weren't looking, which could be really bad if an infant was sleeping there. If it was me, I'd feel safer blocking the dog from the bedroom with a baby gate while baby is asleep in there, or putting baby in a bassinette away from the dog.

Either way, I'd get the dog a comfy bed on the floor and get him/her used to sleeping there right away. I promise, my labradors don't miss out at all by not sleeping on our bed.

#9 daviesjv

Posted 22 May 2010 - 01:11 PM

Holidayromp, I agree with you. It is amazing how your feelings for your family pet change - or not so much change as become re-prioritised - when you bring home your baby. You don't love your pet any less but they do suddenly have a slightly different place within the family.

#10 Chillax

Posted 22 May 2010 - 01:18 PM

I cannot believe anyone would consider keeping a dog in bed with them and their baby. Sorry - just totally gross.

#11 Guest_cathode_*

Posted 22 May 2010 - 01:53 PM

QUOTE (PeptiBandit @ 20/05/2010, 05:56 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Why would you have a dog sleeping in your bed? Feral

Agreed... Ewww...


#12 noone special

Posted 22 May 2010 - 01:55 PM

Way to add a thoughtful response to the discussion.   I think calling your kid Jaedyn is feral
  blink.gif  WTF  roll2.gif

#13 BetteBoop

Posted 22 May 2010 - 02:03 PM

QUOTE (heffalumpsnwoozles @ 21/05/2010, 01:57 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
As PP's have said, your outlook on your dog changes significantly when you bring your baby home. I never thought my dogs would take such a back seat. I still love them to bits but now I know what it's like to love an actual baby, the thought of my dogs as my babies is laughable. And this is from a person who used to cry in movies where an animal got injured but didn't give a toss about people.

Yep x 2!

Our dog was absolutely a fur baby. We let her sleep on a sheet at the foot of our bed for a while but she would sneak up to the head of the bed and we would wake up looking her in the eye.

She is ridiculously hairy so that scenario didn't last long. After a few days, her fur was like a separate blanket on the sheets. Feral is a fair call.

But once the baby came home, it didn't feel reasonable any more. My protective instincts kicked in and the dog went from the foot of the bed to locked inside the bathroom.

I found myself less concerned with puppy's hurt feelings as sleeplessness and looking after a small baby became my life. There was little room in my brain space for the dog's needs.

Our dog slowly made her way outside the house during the nights. She is still inside on the days when I am home but never with my toddler unsupervised. Now we have a great balance though. DD loves to run around the back yard with the dog and a happy balance has returned.

I think the fact that you are starting to think like this now is good. I simply refused to accept that anyone could supplant my adored puppy in my affections. When people tried to tell me that my feelings would change, I poo pooed them. It may not happen with you but it doesn't change the fact that there are risks around co sleeping with babies and dogs. These risks may not affect your behaviour but you need to at least look into the situation and make an informed decision.

#14 Mummytogirls

Posted 23 May 2010 - 09:49 AM

We had a similar issue with DD's pending arrival, but with our cat. As it turned out I couldn't sleep a wink with DD in the bed with us 'cause she was so noisy and wriggly, that after the first night she went in her cot, the cat stayed with us and we never looked back  biggrin.gif  I had to have a CS so was not keen to be getting out of bed for feeds etc, but me getting some sleep was more of a priority. I could not believe the noises that my gorgeous little newborn was making as she slept! We even turned off the monitor 'cause that was also affecting my sleep. We would easily hear her when she was crying for more milk. DD has slept in her own cot for all sleeps, slept throught the night since 6 weeks of age and it has never effected our bond with either me or DH.
Don't put too much pressure on yourself as a new mum. It's all so daunting the first few weeks and often situations you worry about turn into nothing.

Good luck

#15 babybrain

Posted 24 May 2010 - 01:29 PM

Another member who was completely besotted with her dog. But the moment I brought back our baby from the birth centre my feelings completely changed towards her. I was sad about it, but couldn't change the way I felt. Fortunately, she was already an outside dog..... but she got heaps less attention.

I think that if you change your mind on the sleeping arrangement once your baby has actually arrived it will be much harder for your dog to accept that it has to sleep somewhere else and jealousy can become a much bigger issue than if you get your dog used to it now.

What I would also worry about with having your dog on your bed, besides the hygiene, would be that if your baby sleeps in the bassinet or later on in his/her own room the dog will see this as your baby being a lower ranked individual. The further the dog sleeps from the alpha dog, the lower they rank.

My last point, my dog is the sweetest dog and she actually loves children, but her patience is not endless and I would NEVER EVER leave her alone with my child unsupervised. Especially since my son tries to pull her tail, fur, pokes her eyes and nose etc

#16 Scooby Doo

Posted 31 May 2010 - 08:04 PM

Get some perspective here - this is a newborn baby - the dog must get off the bed and out of the house.

#17 adl

Posted 15 June 2010 - 05:08 PM

My mum had a lab that was her baby,  we have photos of me under 3 mths lying on Milady,  she was so protective of me,  she saved me from snake bite and falling into the pool...I agree with the vet about slowly moving her to her own bed BUT she is a part of your family and shouldnt be banished or punished just cos there is a new member...

You should teach your child proper behaviour around animals as well,  not to pull and poke but be gentle ..still not ever left alone but who leaves a child on its own at a very young age anyway??

that dog that mauled that child in WA - went from being a loved member to being banished and ignored so lashed out...

#18 MummyToo

Posted 19 June 2011 - 02:29 PM

I am a registered breeder of Golden Retrievers, an Obedience School Instructor practicing positive reinforcement, and an owner of dogs for more than 30yrs.  I love my dogs.  I also have four children, aged from 10yrs, down to 1yr, and I would NEVER allow my baby to sleep anywhere near my dog, much less in the same bed.  At the age of 8yrs, your dog thinks it has it's place in the pecking order well-established, and you are already about to set that on it's head!  And even if your dog is particularly placid, babies make strange noises that a dog will find difficult to interpret.  They cry, scream, gurgle, etc, and a dog may find this distressing, and the worst may just happen.  And how would you feel towards the dog then?  Then there is the accidental rollover issue.  Dogs have been known to accidentally smother their own young.  They may even be aware that a baby is wriggling beneath them, and know that it wants them to move, but they may not wish to.  The 'pecking order' mentality, again!  Then, there is the fur.  A baby will automatically and instinctively close it's hand around the dog's fur.  This hurts, and can be a choking issue.  I have slept with my dogs in the bed.  I found it comforting, and I know that my dogs enjoyed it, and I didn't think it 'feral' at all.  But it is never worth risking your baby/child.  I have also slept with my baby/children in the bed.  I have also never been drunk/or otherwise affected at the time, nor has my husband.  I found it a natural and relaxing way to sleep, but my husband was very unsettled about it for a long time, and certainly not as aware of the baby as me.  I had to sleep with the baby away from my husband, in a protective fashion, so you need to think about that, too.  You or he may not be as aware if under the influence of anything, or simply dead-tired.  Good luck to you ALL.

#19 Guest_Bubbalicious9_*

Posted 19 June 2011 - 02:37 PM


Edited by Bubbalicious9, 28 October 2011 - 10:19 PM.

#20 Guest_Bubbalicious9_*

Posted 19 June 2011 - 02:38 PM


Edited by Bubbalicious9, 28 October 2011 - 10:20 PM.

#21 soapy

Posted 19 June 2011 - 02:56 PM

I think you would have to choose between baby or dog and I myslef could never have a dog sleep in my bed. If you can't bring yourself to move the dog then use a cot. The dog hair would not be good for the baby.

#22 candiceshout

Posted 05 October 2011 - 02:42 PM

I think it's kinda harmful especially if they don't introduced to each other. Choose the baby and assign the dog somewhere else.

#23 Liadan

Posted 05 October 2011 - 02:53 PM



Edited by Liadan, 05 October 2011 - 02:55 PM.

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