Can My Jack Russell Terrier Sleep In My Bed?

Many studies have found that sleeping with your Jack Russell Terrier can actually be good for you. One particular study concluded that people who slept with their dogs had increased feelings of comfort and security.

Jack Russell Terrier’s like most pack animals, share an affinity for one another, so they sleep together as a pack. Since you’re the leader of your dog’s pack, they want to be near you and protect you.

For centuries humans have slept with dogs in order keep warm and feel protected. The practice of sleeping with dogs is not new and it is still quite common today. In fact, a recent survey conducted by the American Kennel Club, found that 45% of people sleep with their dogs.

Despite it being relatively common, is it actually a good idea? The answer is yes but there are some important things know and to consider before inviting your Jack Russell Terrier into your bed.  

Potential Benefits of Sleeping with Your Jack Russell Terrier

Generally, Jack Russell Terriers are very affectionate and cuddly and love being close to their owners. They tend to thrive on connection and if allowed, they enjoy sleeping in your bed next to you or in the same room as you at night.

There are a lot of great benefits to letting your Jack Russell Terrier sleep with you. These include:

  • A positive effect on your sleep quality
  • Comfort and security for both you and your terrier
  • Boosting your mental health
  • Boosting your physical health

Positive effect on your sleep quality

While having a Jack Russell Terrier in your bed does not always equal a wonderful night’s sleep (see Potential side effects), studies have shown that when dogs are with their owner, their heartbeats sync up. This demonstrates the calming effect a dog can have on the human brain.

Furthermore, sleeping with a Jack Russell Terrier increases the flow of oxytocin, the hormone responsible for bonding behaviours and relaxation, amongst many other things. This profoundly impacts on how deeply we sleep and promotes theta brainwaves. Theta brainwaves, which occur during the REM stage of sleep, restores your brain and are good for your memory and learning.

Interestingly research has also found that when compared with cats and other people, dogs in bed were perceived to be less disruptive to sleep. This is not the same for everyone though, so if you wake up refreshed and aren’t fatigued during the day, your Jack Russell Terrier is probably a good sleeping buddy.

Provides comfort and security

Having a Jack Russell Terrier in the home often increases the owners’ feelings of safety and protection. Practically speaking having a dog in the home can also increase security by deterring break-ins. A 2018 study of American women who slept with their dogs reported feeling more comfort and security than when sleeping with another person or a cat.

Many people find that knowing their dog is protecting them helps them sleep more soundly. It is reassuring to know your Jack Russell Terrier will let you know immediately if anything is amiss while you are asleep.

Boosts mental health

Having a Jack Russell Terrier can relieve stress and anxiety.

A study conducted in 2016 found that pets should be considered as part of the support process for people with long-term mental health problems. Sharing a special bond with your Jack Russell Terrier can help to lower blood pressure, decreased stress, reduce anxiety and depression, and improve overall better health.

Co-sleeping with your Jack Russell Terrier helps to increase your levels of Oxytocin, the hormone mentioned above that promotes bonding and relaxation. This powerful hormone helps you unwind, destress, lower your heart rate, and feel more relaxed. The perfect feel-good combination for positive mental health. Your body produces more oxytocin when you are in close contact with your Jack Russell Terrier.

Boosts Physical Health

A 2012 study concluded that human-animal interactions may decrease physical stress-related indicators like cortisol, heart rate and blood pressure. Having close contact with your Jack Russell Terrier can also improve many health conditions.

According to the American Heart Association, dog owners who had close contact with their dogs had lower levels of dangerous triglycerides circulating in their body when compared to their pet-less counterparts.

Children who sleep with a dog are less likely to develop allergies later in life. A study found that when children are exposed regularly to dogs, it can positively influence their immune system development, reduce allergen sensitization and the chance of developing atopic dermatitis.

Potential Side Effects and Risks of Sleeping with Your Jack Russell Terrier

While Jack Russell Terriers can make good sleep companions, there is always a flip side and other factors to consider.

There are some potential negatives to letting your Jack Russell Terrier sleep with you. These include:

  • Decreased sleep quality
  • Aggravated allergies
  • Spread of disease
  • Risk of injury

May decrease sleep quality

A survey on human animal co-sleeping carried out in Australia showed that people who sleep with their dogs spent more time trying to sleep and were more likely to wake up tired than those whose dogs were not allowed in the bedroom.

Jack Russell Terriers are always on the alert, so they’re light sleepers. Human and dog sleep cycles can also differ quite a bit which can be inhibit to your sleep. Jack Russell Terriers can be disruptive to our sleep if they snore, slobber, or overheat the bed and in this case may not be an ideal sleep mate. You may wake up still tired or longing for a daytime nap.

One study showed having a dog in bed increases human movement. This could potentially disturb sleep, but mostly the people in the study did not remember waking up due to dog movement. However, this was a small study, and it is unknown whether the same findings would apply to a wider population.

May aggravate allergies

Jack Russell Terriers can carry allergens like dust and pollen into your bed. This can aggravate those with severe allergies and asthma. However, as mentioned above, children exposed to dogs through childhood can have reduced allergies later in life.

May spread disease

In the United States, the risk of disease from sleeping with your Jack Russel Terrier is low and mostly due to fleas and ticks, ringworm and skin infection caused by mites. These are all very treatable conditions and if your dog is regularly wormed and treated for flea and ticks, this risk is reduced further.

Cause for a little more concern are the chances of you being infected by bacteria, parasites, and fungi from your Jack Russell Terrier. This can happen through you touching their faeces, them licking your face or an open wound, or them scratching or biting you.

Scientists have suggested that 90% of these infections could have been acquired by just being in close contact with a dog and not necessarily after sleeping with them. They concluded that most of the infection’s humans’ contract from living with dogs are not because of sleeping habits, but instead mostly due to lack of hygiene. Practicing good hygiene like bathing your Jack Russell Terrier, trimming its hair, taking it to the vet are importance things to do as an owner to reduce this risk.

May cause injury

Sleeping with any pet can cause injury. There is a risk of a Jack Russell Terrier accidently scratching their owner in their sleep and causing injury. Furthermore, if the owner accidently rolls on their dog, the dog may retaliate and bite in self-defence.

There’s no evidence to support the theory that allowing your Jack Russell Terrier to sleep in your bed will make them to be aggressive or dominant. However, having a dominant or aggressive Jack Russell Terrier in the bedroom can be problematic. They can see it as their space and any intrusion can be met with aggression, possible causing significant injury to occupants of the bed, e.g., dog bites, especially for children.

It’s important to note that this aggression is often rooted in fear and is generally not caused by allowing them in the bed. It depends on the attitude of your dog and how well educated he or she is, but this type of behaviour should be addressed regardless of the situation.

Can Jack Russell Terriers Sleep Outside?

It is not recommended that Jack Russell Terriers sleep outside as their coats are not thick enough to keep them very warm in cold temperatures.

Jack Russell Terriers thrive on relationships and being close to their owners. Sleeping outdoors can be lonely and may cause them anxiety, isolation, and stress.

How to Sleep with Your Jack Russell Terrier in Your Bed

Once you have weighed up the positives and negatives of your Jack Russell Terrier sleeping in your bed, you may decide it’s for you. In that case, here are some helpful tips for happy sleeping with your Jack Russell Terrier:

  • Take them outside to the toilet before bed
  • Train them to wait for permission before jumping on the bed
  • Be consistent – if you have boundaries like no sleeping on your pillow or under the blankets, make no exceptions
  • If your terrier displays aggressive and territorial behaviours remove them from the bed
  • Take your terrier to visit your veterinarian for regular check-ups and vaccinations
  • Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for preventive flea, tick, and worm treatments
  • Practice good hygiene by washing your hands after cleaning up any messes, avoid your terrier licking your face and change your bedding regularly.

Co-sleeping with a Jack Russell Terrier is not for everyone. It is important that everyone who sleeps in or may sleep in the bed is in agreeance with your Jack Russell Terrier sharing your bed. When things aren’t gelling and a good night’s sleep can’t be had, have your terrier sleep elsewhere until you work things out.

Seeking advice from a veterinarian or professional dog trainer may be needed.


An Examination of Adult Women’s Sleep Quality and Sleep Routines in Relation to Pet Ownership and Bedsharing: Anthrozoös: Vol 31, No 6 (

Human-Animal Co-Sleeping: An Actigraphy-Based Assessment of Dogs’ Impacts on Women’s Nighttime Movements (

Where Do Dogs Sleep at Night? – American Kennel Club (

Sleeping with Dogs: Benefits for Your Health, Risks, and Precautions (

Ontological security and connectivity provided by pets: a study in the self-management of the everyday lives of people diagnosed with a long-term mental health condition | BMC Psychiatry | Full Text (

Pet Ownership and Cardiovascular Risk | Circulation (

Effects of dog ownership and genotype on immune development and atopy in infancy – PubMed (

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