If there’s one thing worth celebrating in the recent lockdowns that have come to grip Australia, it’s the time we can now relish with our beloved pets. While most animal experts will warn you about the separation anxiety that can befall your pooch, an anxiety that you’d do well to train them out of if you want to have a peaceful nights sleep or leave the house without hearing them cry bloody murder two blocks away. Few experts though, will warn you that in most instances, it’s the owner that has separation anxiety – not the pet, or at least that’s how we feel when having to go to work and leave the warmth of a four-legged heartbeat waiting patiently by our feet. Thankfully, lockdown has given us back our time and we can spend our days curled up with our dogs.
Now, dog owners can rejoice once more. Not that we needed another excuse as to why we love sleeping with our beloved animals, but it turns out research can now back our inability to establish boundaries. According to dog behaviourist, Karen Barrett, sleeping with a dog can actually be good for your mental health. The trick is that you just need to establish that it is actually your bed, not theirs.
“If the dog is sleeping on your head, they think they are higher up than you and this is a problem. But, by lying next to you, there is an oxytocin release that encourages us to cuddle up together. It’s also a basic genetic survival instinct,” said Barrett in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.
“When you’ve got single or elderly people, who partners have passed, having a dog that sleeps on the bed is comforting,” she added. Not that we needed any further proof but there you go, dogs really are man’s best friend.
The findings correlate to previous research conducted at Canisius College in Buffalo where 962 US-based women were surveyed about their sleeping habits. 57 per cent slept with another human, while 31 per cent shared with their cat, and 55 per cent slept with a dog tucked up alongside them. Out of all of them, it was those who slept alongside their dogs who were most likely to get a good night’s sleep. The study also found that those who slept next to their pooch were more likely to go t bed earlier and wake from their slumber earlier, too.
“Compared with human bed partners, dogs who slept in the owner’s bed were perceived to disturb sleep less and were associated with stronger feelings of comfort and security,” said the study’s authors.