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Should You Let Your German Shepherd Sleep with You?

Last Updated: February 9, 2024

As a proud German Shepherd owner, one question I often get asked is, “Should you let your German Shepherd sleep with you?”

It’s a topic that seems to divide pet owners into two camps: those who can’t imagine a night without their furry friend snuggled up beside them and those who believe pets should have their own sleeping quarters.

German Shepherds can sleep with their owners, depending on individual preferences, the dog’s health, and behavior. You should consider allergies, space, and sleep quality before deciding.

Their strong bond and need for closeness make sharing a bed appealing, yet factors like bed size, the dog’s health, and potential impacts on your sleep and lifestyle must be weighed.

Having shared my home with a loyal and loving German Shepherd for years, I’ve navigated the pros and cons of this cozy dilemma firsthand.

I’ll share my insights on the benefits and challenges of sleeping with a German Shepherd, aiming to help you make the right decision.

German Shepherd sleeping on owners bed.

To Share or Not to Share Your Bed with Your German Shepherd

The answer to this question depends on whether you refer to a German Shepherd puppy or an adult. Understanding the difference can help you decide what is best for you and your dog.

As a Puppy

When your German Shepherd is still a puppy, avoiding letting them sleep in your bed is best.

This stems from various factors, including teaching obedience and establishing your role as the leader, to fostering a routine that nurtures their independence. Such practices can mitigate clinginess and reduce separation anxiety.

Let’s look a little bit closer as to what this exactly means:

  • Your German Shepherd needs to get used to a regular schedule. Let’s put it this way – a new puppy isn’t likely to be potty trained. Unless you enjoy waking up in a puddle of pee (or something worse!), getting him used to a routine as soon as you bring him home is best. The same goes for sleep patterns, as waking up throughout the night is not ideal.
  • You need to show your German Shepherd dominance. The German Shepherd is loyal and protective but won’t be loyal to someone he doesn’t respect. Allowing your puppy to sleep on your bed shows him you are of the same hierarchy, and he might not view you as the dominant figure. This could lead to future problems.
  • He needs to learn independence. German Shepherds are renowned for forming an intense bond with their owners. When you let your puppy sleep with you, the bond might become too intense, inadvertently making your GSD extremely clingy. In fact, it can almost become overwhelming as your GSD will be by your side incessantly, even following you to the bathroom!
  • May help prevent future separation anxiety: GSDs are an affectionate breed who are often prone to suffering from separation anxiety when left alone. Many dog owners believe you can help prevent this by encouraging their independence by allowing them to sleep in their own special place, whether it be a crate or bed somewhere in a part of the house that has been partitioned off.
  • He should not run the show. Now, this is just as important, as many people believe dogs can get spoiled and be allowed to be the alpha. So, you must show your German Shepherd early on that he needs to listen to and respect you. It is okay to comfort your puppy if he occasionally whines, but incessant whining should be ignored. He should not need constant attention if he is close to you in a secure and comfortable spot. 

Early socialization, obedience training, and puppy training classes are vital for new pups, as shown in this study.

You can also encourage your German Shepherd puppy to develop into a well-behaved adult by giving him his own place to sleep at night – and not in your bed with you!

7 month old German Shepherd laying on its owners bed.
My German Shepherd Willow
aged 7 months

So, does this mean it’s the worst thing in the world to let your puppy sleep with you?

No! In fact, some dog owners may argue that it’s wrong to let a puppy sleep all alone when he is used to being with his littermates, all nice and cozy.

Please remember, though, that if you let your puppy sleep with you, you may need to do more during the day to assert your dominance and help your pup become more independent.

However, there are no studies to prove this one way or the other:

While there can be a link between bed-sharing and behavior problems, it’s not known whether co-sleeping creates the problem or the problem leads to co-sleeping in the first place.” – AKC

Worrying about your new pup feeling scared, cold, or alone is unnecessary. As a first-time dog owner, I took the advice of my breeder, who recommended using a crate to lay the foundations on the first night.

German Shepherd Puppy in Crate
My German Shepherd Willow sleeping in her crate on her first night.

You can cover half of the crate with a blanket to make it feel more secure and “den-like.” Add comfy bedding, toys, water using a clip-on bowl, and even a small blanket or cushion containing your scent to help him feel better.

As the crate will be too large initially, you can partition it in half until your dog grows. I like the Midwest Homes for Pets iCrate from Amazon, as you have the choice of either a single or double door, and this one comes inclusive with the divider panel and a tray, so you’ve nothing else to buy.

Note: Clicking the above link(s) will take you to Amazon or an online store where we have an affiliate relationship. If you make a purchase, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Make sure you buy the correct size – you need a 48″, as this allows your German Shepherd to turn around comfortably and fully stretch his paws out when lying on his side.

Read More: Best Dog Crates for German Shepherds

You can place the crate in his own special area of the house, or you can choose to put it right next to your bed if space allows. 

I chose the former as I am a light sleeper, and I hate to have my sleep disturbed – remember, too, that dogs have different sleep cycles than humans.

If you choose to put the crate in your bedroom, you can transition to another area of the house after a few weeks.

Although I could hear my German Shepherd cry once in a while during the first night, once that was over, she was just fine.

This is quite normal; your dog will soon learn to love its crate. It is its own special place where it can go to rest or enjoy its favorite chew toys.

How to Survive Your Puppy’s First Night at Home…

Once the pup has reached six months old, some owners train their dogs to sleep outside. You can learn tons more about this in my article, Can a German Puppy Sleep Outside?

As an Adult

This study states that approximately half of pet owners allow their pets to share their bedroom or bed with them at night.

If you choose to sleep with your German Shepherd once he is an adult, several benefits come along with it.

However, you should make sure that your dog is well-behaved and trained. Territorial or aggressive dogs should not sleep in your bed.

Studies have shown that the bond between people and their pets can increase fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to their owners.” – CDC

And that’s not even counting the many health benefits, too, such as lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

When you opt to sleep with your pet, these overall benefits become even stronger. Some of the most common health benefits of sleeping with your adult German Shepherd include:

  • An overall reduction in depression and anxiety.
  • Increased feeling of security.
  • Reduced stress.
  • Lowered blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels.
  • A decrease in hypertension.

As you can see, many benefits go along with sleeping with your adult German Shepherd and increasing the loving bond.

However, this should only occur after your dog has shown that he has been properly trained and socialized and knows you are the boss! 

Of course, there can be negatives in allowing your German Shepherd to sleep with you. These are:

Although I have mentioned you may suffer from disturbed sleep if you sleep with your German Shepherd, this depends on your type of sleeper.

If you are a heavy sleeper, your dog’s night-time behavior is unlikely to affect you.

In fact, this study from The Mayo Clinic examined the sleep of 40 healthy humans and their dogs occupying the same bedroom to determine whether sleeping together was conducive to sleep.

The result was that the dog’s presence in the bedroom may not be disruptive to human sleep, as was previously thought.

Still, even when you are allowing your dog to sleep with you, there are two rules to follow:

  • Only allow your dog onto your bed at night when you say so. Your German Shepherd should not feel that he has free reign of your bed and can come and go as he pleases. This can impede how he views your hierarchy. Instead, only allow him on the bed at night, and only after you have said it is okay.
  • Always have another spot for your German Shepherd to sleep. Sometimes, your dog wants to enjoy his own space. Always make sure you have a bed or crate nearby where he can get warm and cozy without being in your bed. This will give him additional security.

Final Thoughts

You shouldn’t let your new German Shepherd puppy sleep in your bed, as this may cause behavioral issues, such as excessive clinginess. It’s best to get your new pup into a regular routine while you are training him.

When all is said and done, once your GSD is an adult and grows pretty quickly, as you can see from the GSD growth chart, it is a matter of personal choice. Here are some other key takeaways from the article:

  • You may let your new GSD pup sleep in a crate or his bed beside you.
  • 50% of pet owners share their bedroom or bed with their pets.
  • Only when he is an adult, do you have the option of letting him accompany you to your bed at night time.
  • Sleeping with your dog includes increased security, bonding, and mental health.
  • Negatives include possible disturbed sleep and an increase in any allergy symptoms.
Sharon Waddington
Sharon Waddington is the founder of World of Dogz. With over 30 years of experience working with dogs, this former Police Officer has seen it all. But it’s her trusty German Shepherd, Willow, who steals the show as the inspiration behind this website. As Sharon’s constant companion Willow has played a pivotal role in shaping her passion for dogs. Recently, Sharon has become deeply passionate about the plight of rescue dogs and is an active advocate for dog rescue, striving to make a difference in the lives of dogs in need.

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