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Should You Let Your German Shepherd Sleep with You?

Bringing a new German Shepherd puppy home can be both exciting and a challenge. Pups are certainly a handful whilst they are getting used to their new home, learning socialization, basic training, and rules of the house. A major issue that new dog owners find themselves struggling with is a sleep routine – mostly where to sleep.

Should you let your German Shepherd sleep with you? As a puppy, you should not let your German Shepherd sleep with you, although they can sleep beside you if they are not on your bed. Your puppy needs to get used to a regular schedule, work on their independence, and see you as the dominant figure. It can be okay once your GSD is an adult.

There are many do’s and don’ts when it comes to where your puppy should sleep at night. Luckily, I’m going to help you make the right decision. We will discuss why a German Shepherd puppy should not sleep with you, and why as an adult, it may be okay.

7 month old German Shepherd laying on a bed. Should You Let Your German Shepherd Sleep with You?
My German Shepherd Willow
aged 7 months

Welcome to the world of German Shepherds and where they should sleep. Let’s get started.

Should I Let My German Shepherd Sleep with Me?

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

When Your German Shepherd is a Puppy

When your German Shepherd is still a puppy, it is best to avoid letting them sleep in your bed. This is due to several different reasons, from teaching them obedience and showing them that you are the dominant figure, to simply helping them learn a routine and grow in their independence, which can help to prevent clinginess and 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 brand new puppy isn’t likely to be potty trained. Unless you enjoy waking up in a puddle of pee (or something worse!), it’s best to get him used to a routine as soon as you bring him home. The same goes for sleep patterns, as being woken up throughout the night is not ideal.
  • You need to show your German Shepherd dominance. The German Shepherd is loyal and protective, but he won’t be loyal to someone he doesn’t respect. Allowing your puppy to sleep on your bed shows him that 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 a bit too intense and can inadvertently make 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 to 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 which has been partitioned off. To find out a ton more on this, here’s where you can find my monster post, German Shepherd Separation Anxiety: Training, Help & Treatment.
  • He should not run the show. Now, this is just as important, as many people believe that dogs can get spoiled and be allowed to be the alpha. So you need to show your German Shepherd that he needs to listen to you and respect you from an early age. It is okay to comfort your puppy if he occasionally whines, but incessant whining should be ignored. As long as he is close to you in a secure and comfortable spot, he should not need constant attention. 

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Early socialization, obedience training, and puppy training classes are vital for new pups. This is evidenced by many scientific studies such as the below from the School of Psychology and Public Health at La Trobe University, Australia:

“Socialization is a key component of producing an adult dog which behaves in an appropriate manner and is well-suited to living with humans in modern-day society.” 

The National Center for Biotechnology Information – Veterinary Medicine

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!

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 by himself when he is used to being with his littermates, all nice and cozy.

Please remember though if you let your puppy sleep with you, it may require more work during the daytime to assert your dominance and help your pup become more independent, however, there are no studies to prove this one way or the other as quoted by The American Kennel Club:

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.”

American Kennel Club

There’s no need to worry about your new pup feeling scared, cold, or alone. As a first-time dog owner, I took the advice of my breeder who recommended using a crate and 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 at first, 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.

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: 8 Best Dog Crates for German Shepherds (and Playpens)

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, and your dog will soon get to love their crate as it is their own special place where they can go to either rest or enjoy their favorite chew toys.

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

Surviving Your Puppy's First Night at Home

Once the pup has reached 6 months of age, some owners choose to train their dog to sleep outside. You can learn tons more about this in my article, Can a German Puppy Sleep Outside?

When Your German Shepherd is an Adult

This study states that approximately half of pet owners share their bedroom or bed with their pet during the 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. Dogs who are territorial or aggressive 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.” 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

And that’s not even counting the multitude of 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 in addition to 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:

  • Disturbed sleep as a result of your dog’s sleep behaviors. These include snoring, fidgeting, twitching, and “running in their sleep.”
  • Increased allergy symptoms if you are allergic to grass pollen that your dog may have picked up.
  • It may affect your marriage!

Although I have mentioned you may suffer from disturbed sleep if you sleep with your German Shepherd, this depends on the type of sleeper that you are. If you are a heavy sleeper you are unlikely to be affected by your dog’s night-time behavior.

In fact, this study from The Mayo Clinic looked at the sleep of 40 healthy humans and their dogs occupying the same bedroom to find out 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 being excessively clingy and it’s best to get your new pup into a regular routine whilst you are training him.

When all is said and done once your GSD is an adult, and they grow pretty quick 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 choose to let your new GSD pup sleep in a crate or his own bed at the side of you.
  • 50% of pet owners share their bedroom or bed with their pets.
  • Only when he is an adult, you have the option of letting him accompany you to your bed at night time.
  • The benefits of sleeping with your dog include increased security, bonding, and mental health.
  • Negatives include possible disturbed sleep and an increase in any allergy symptoms.

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