You can cuddle your puppy to sleep, but there are some things to think about first. If you don’t want your puppy to sleep in your bed, for example, you should set that boundary now. Your puppy should also learn how to be alone for short periods. Never cuddle them when they don’t want to be held.
The main thing to consider is the personalities of you and your puppy. Do they enjoy cuddles? Do you enjoy cuddling them?
Will your preferences change as they get older? If so, you should set those expectations now. Waiting will cause confusion for your pup when the rules suddenly shift.
If you don’t want to cuddle your puppy to sleep, there are alternatives including dog beds, crate training, or having your pup lie at the bottom of your bed.
In this article, I’ll discuss some pros and cons to cuddling your puppy to sleep, what to do if you or your puppy don’t want to cuddle, and alternatives to cuddling them to sleep.
You Can Cuddle Your Puppy to Sleep
Whether you’re holding your puppy on the couch or snuggling them in your bed, it’s perfectly okay to cuddle your puppy to sleep in my opinion.
So long as your puppy is feeling cozy and you enjoy cuddling them, there really isn’t a problem.
Everyone has a different outlook on this, though, especially when it comes to allowing your puppy to sleep in your bed. You should always make the decision that’s best for you and your pup.
Allowing Puppy in the Bed may Harm your Sleep
A study has found that allowing your dog to sleep in your bed may harm your sleep. The same study found no adverse effects to allowing your puppy to sleep in your bedroom.
However, this study only involved 40 participants. While it makes sense that having a pup moving around in the bed, kicking you, or snoring could all affect your sleep, we can’t really call this data definitive.
If you don’t see a problem with having your puppy in the bed, then in my opinion you shouldn’t worry about it.
Set Expectations Now
With puppies, it’s a good idea to start as you plan to continue and set your expectations for them now. By this, I mean that the behavior you allow today will set the standards for the grown dog your puppy will become.
If you let your puppy bite your hands while playing, you’ll end up with a grown dog who thinks biting is okay. If you let your puppy jump up on people when they’re small, they’ll keep doing this throughout their lives.
And if you let your puppy sleep in bed with you, they will want to continue sleeping in your bed as a grown dog.
Think about whether or not you’ll be okay with that by considering your own preferences as well as the size your puppy will be when they’re older.
Some people don’t want a big dog taking up half the bed at night! That’s okay, but you need to set that expectation while they’re little.
This will set your pup up for success because they know your expectations, and won’t have to deal with a complete change in the rules months or a year down the line.
Of course, if you know you won’t mind your puppy sleeping in your bed later, it’s okay to allow that behavior!
Puppies Benefit from Alone Time
Another thing to think about is how often you cuddle your puppy throughout the day.
Let’s say you adopt a puppy during a time in your life where you’re home a lot. Time off from work or school, for example.
You carry them everywhere, cuddle them on the couch, and rarely leave their side.
Then you’re back at school or work, and you suddenly can’t spend every moment with your puppy. But they were so used to being around you 24/7 that now they have attachment problems or even separation anxiety.
It’s good for a puppy to get used to being left alone. Puppies who have positive experiences being alone while young have less chance of developing separation anxiety.
As weird as it sounds, you actually can cuddle your puppy too much!
Some Puppies Won’t Want to Cuddle
While there’s nothing wrong with cuddling your puppy to sleep, some puppies won’t like this. You should never force them to cuddle if they don’t want to.
I know it can be tempting. When I brought my dog Charlie home at 10 months old, I tried to call him up into the bed at night. He looked at me like I was bananas and stayed on the floor!
To this day, he only likes cuddles if it’s his idea to lay in my lap like a small lap dog (he’s actually a huge black lab!).
He doesn’t want anyone around him while he sleeps, and will even grumble at the cats and move away if they get too close.
It’s simply his preference, and your puppy may be this way too. It’s best to let them be themselves and sleep wherever they prefer.
This also applies to the day time, when your puppy may prefer to run around and play or lay down on the floor by themselves than be cuddled.
You Don’t Have to Cuddle Your Puppy
Maybe you are the one who doesn’t want to cuddle your puppy, or you don’t want them on your bed.
This is completely okay, and your puppy will be fine if you give them someplace else to sleep.
If your puppy is a cuddle bug, try giving them a space nearby to sleep instead. Set up a dog bed on the floor in your room, maybe with clothing or a blanket that smells like you to comfort them. This way, they can still feel close to you.
Or, you can set up a crate for your puppy and leave it either opened or closed at night. If you choose this option, be sure to properly crate train your pup so it’s a good experience for them.
Alternatives to Cuddling Your Puppy
Dog beds can be a great place for your puppy to sleep when you don’t want them on your lap or in your bed.
You can place one in the bedroom near your bed so that your puppy can be close to you without being too close for comfort!
Or, you can place them around the house in the areas where you spend a lot of time. An example may be a home office where you spend time working and cannot hold your puppy, but they can still be nearby. Or in the living room where your family hangs out in the evenings.
By choosing places where you and your dog spend the most time, the beds are more likely to be used.
Crate training is a great option because it gives your puppy somewhere safe to go if they want to be alone or to sleep.
It provides them with a little “den” of their own to spend time in.
You never want to force your puppy into a crate or make it a bad experience for them. When dogs are properly crate trained, they enjoy their crate and willingly go inside.
This takes six months or longer, and requires patience on your part!
Train them to Lay at the Bottom of the Bed
Maybe you don’t mind your puppy in your bed, but you don’t want them right in your face. In this case, it is possible to train them to lay at the bottom of the bed instead of pressed against you.
Like the other options, this allows them to be close without invading your space.
First train your puppy “down” so that they know how to lay down on command. Then, gently place them at the end of the bed and have them lay down. Praise them for lying there and repeat as needed.
With enough repetition, they will learn that this is where they must sleep.
Address their Other Needs
You never want to cuddle your puppy at the expense of caring for their other needs. Puppies must be exercised, trained, and socialized.
An extreme version of this would be carrying your pup everywhere and never taking them for walks. They will become unfit and this isn’t healthy.
Puppies need plenty of playtime and most of them will require at least one daily walk. You should check the guidelines for their age and breed if you don’t know how much exercise they need.
When it comes to training, your puppy needs to learn many things including how to be alone, like I’ve addressed in this article. Training a puppy takes a lot of time to get right!
Lastly, make sure you aren’t skipping out on socializing your puppy. Ideally they should get used to a wide range of people, animals, and environments so that they grow into a secure, well-adjusted adult dog.
Don’t make them “Cry it Out”
Unfortunately, there is still plenty of bad advice in the dog training world. One of these is to ignore your puppy while they cry so that they can learn independence.
On the surface, this training works somewhat. There’s a good chance your puppy will stop crying when they need or want something from you, but this breaks the trust between you and them.
What they are learning is that when they are afraid or need help, you won’t be there for them. This must be a terrible feeling!
It’s also less likely to lead to the confident, self-assured dog that you (I hope!) want them to be.
Dogs who have negative associations with being alone, like spending a lot of time crying and being completely ignored, have a higher chance of developing problem behaviors or separation anxiety.
You also run the risk of your puppy actually needing something, such as a potty break, and you ignoring them because you’re so set on ignoring their cries.
Instead, teach your puppy to be alone by starting slowly and making each experience as positive as you can.
Also make sure to never leave your puppy alone for longer than they can handle, either physically or emotionally.
Puppies have small bladders and can’t physically take being left without care for more than a couple of hours in the beginning (assuming you adopt them at around 2 months of age).
Emotionally, they may only be able to handle a couple of minutes alone at first. This is okay, and you can build it up over time as your puppy builds up positive experiences and becomes more comfortable.
Writer: Katelynn Sobus