Human-Animal Co-sleeping Practices among Australian Dog Owners

Christy L. Hoffman1, Peta C. Hazelton2, and Bradley P. Smith 2

1 Department of Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation, Canisius College, NY, USA.
2 Appleton Institute for Behavioural Science, School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, Central Queensland University, Adelaide, Australia.

Human-animal co-sleeping is relatively common among dog owners; however, the nature of this practice is not well understood. Recent investigations have focused on the impact of human-dog co-sleeping on human sleep but have largely ignored the contextual nature of the practice, including with whom, why, and how people share their beds and bedrooms with their dogs. We explored the nature of human-dog co-sleeping among a large population of Australian dog owners (n = 1136). Nearly half (49%) of participants reported sleeping with their dog in their bed, 20% indicated their dog slept in their bedroom but not in their bed, and 31% reported their dog slept outside their bedroom. The likelihood of bedsharing with one’s dog increased with participant age and bed size and was higher for individuals with small dogs than those with larger dogs. In addition, bedsharing with one’s dog was more common among individuals who did not have a human bed partner. For each unit increase in the MDORS Dog-Owner Interaction scale, the odds of sleeping with one’s dog increased by 1.39, and for each unit increase in the MDORS Emotional Closeness sub-scale, the odds increased by 1.08. For each unit increase in the MCPQ-R Motivation sub-scale, the odds of sleeping with one’s dog increased by 1.21.We found no association between whether the dog slept on the bed and self-reported sleep quality. However, participants whose dog slept somewhere other than their owner’s bed were 1.45 times more likely to report frequently waking up tired. Bedsharing appears unlikely to impact sleep quality negatively in any meaningful way. In fact, in many cases, dog(s) in the bed may facilitate a more restful night’s sleep than when they sleep elsewhere.

Key words: bedsharing; co-sleeping; dogs; sleep; sleep habits

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Christy Hoffman, Department of Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation, Canisius College, 2001 Main St, Buffalo, NY 14208, United States. Email:

Acknowledgements
The authors wish to thank Kirrilly Thompson, Joshua Trigg, and Matthew Browne for assistance during various aspects of our research into human-animal co-sleeping.

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