The Secret of the Tent is Revealed

As I said on Twitter last week, you know you are dog obsessed when you buy your dog her own camping tent. I’m feeling pretty guilty about it actually. But not for the expected reasons.

We bought the little tent originally because we were tired of lugging her giant metal crate everywhere. When camping in Nova Scotia, you are pretty much guaranteed to deal with some form of moisture. Shiva’s crate does not provide any protection from the rain. It wasn’t a big deal since she slept with us, but I do feel it is important to give her a space of her own. New environments can be very overwhelming. Her crate provides the familiar comforts of home. They do make waterproof, soft-sided crates but the cost is a little more than we are prepared to pay.

After I wrote the post about keeping my dog cool, I did some online window shopping and was charmed by this tent made especially for dogs. I thought it was a terrific way to help keep a dog cool when hanging around outside. Potentially, we could even use it for agility trials (if I ever make it to a trial, that is). The hundred-dollar price-tag made me pause, but my PH suggested we head to good ol’ Canadian Tire to see if we could find a small backpacking tent for much less.

Twenty bucks later, Shiva had a tent of her very own! A very snug and comfy one, at that.

Since we weren’t sure how she was going to like it, when we went camping, we lugged the crate along as well. But surprisingly, Shiva took to it right away. A few pieces of kibble, her favourite blankets, and she was making the space her own. A few times throughout the first day, she went in all by herself for a brief nap.


I had no intention of getting her to sleep in there. It just sort of happened. This is where the guilt comes in.

Shiva usually sleeps alone. Unlike some trainers, including a certain television bully, I do believe that it is natural and even best for dogs to sleep with their people. It’s a form of bonding and helps the dog feel like she belongs in the family. But when we first brought Shiva home, we needed to keep the downstairs of our house – where our bedroom is – as a haven for the cat. From the beginning Shiva slept upstairs in the living room on her own. Aside from a few minutes of whining on that very first night, she hasn’t complained about the situation once. In fact, it’s almost as if she prefers it that way.

There is no other time she gets the entire couch to herself, after all.

So when we go camping, the entire experience of sleeping with us has always been incredibly over-stimulating. She can’t relax, we can’t sleep as a result of her walking over us every five minutes, and nobody has a good time. By morning, we’re starting to think dog kennels are an excellent idea.

This time Shiva was snuggled in her tent while we sat around the campfire. When we decided to head to bed, my PH suggested we experiment with leaving Shiva where she was, since she looked so comfortable. I was really unsure about it. I was one hundred percent certain she would freak out when we zipped up the door and left her alone. This is our crazy mutt with separation anxiety after all. I agreed to try but if I heard one peep, I was going out there and bringing her in with us.

Surprisingly, I don’t think she even woke up. Not one sound the whole night. By morning, we all felt rested and ready to enjoy the day. I couldn’t believe it!

This success still hasn’t eradicated the guilt. I still feel it’s wrong for Shiva to always sleep by herself. Even if she seems to prefer it that way. I feel like we should train her to learn how to relax when sleeping in the same room with us. Is that weird?

How do your sleeping arrangements work? Do your dogs sleep with you or by themselves? Is it possible Shiva would rather be alone or are we evil tent-banishers?

47 thoughts on “The Secret of the Tent is Revealed

  1. Oreo sleeps with us, but often gets up and goes somewhere else. I had one dog who would lay across the top of my pillow, wrapping himself around my head. I loved that!

    Chewy is still in a crate, and even puts himself to bed in there. Not sure if he’ll want to ever come ot of there, and I’m ok with that.


  2. OUr pups sleep with us, but my mother’s sleeps downstairs in his crate and is quite happy with it. SOmetimes, he puts himself to bed! I think the tent is a great idea. If its good enough for Shiva,its good enough for me!


  3. in our bedroom we have a dog bed on each side of the bed. Haylie will not sleep anywhere else, she is addicted to sleep in the same room as one of us. Ive tried to kick her out of the bedroom and she cried, paced and whinned and I gave up. Fred likes his space and he likes it quiet he has always been that way so he sleeps out in the living room on the couch – he is like shiva, that is the one time he gets it all to himself and he loves every min of it. Fred will sleep in our room on his bed occasionally but he perfers the comforts of being alone.

    I dont think you need to feel guilty at all, alot of dogs like their space – Fred is one of them so I understand. I think its awesome she slept alone and shows that she is coming a long way.

    Hey Shiva is doing better than me, I dont even have a tent and she does 🙂


  4. Gwynn sleeps in his crate on the main floor of the house, and I do feel kind of guilty about that. But he doesn’t complain about it, and does, when he decides that it is past our bedtime, stare at me intently, woof, and then very deliberately walk into his crate and lie down. as if to say, “Seriously, lady – you’re interfering with my rem cycles”
    When we camped a few weeks ago, he slept in a tent with just me (didn’t want to risk him turning into a nutcase in the night with a bunch of my friends in the same tent), and he was fine with it. The only issue I had was that he woke me up in the night, woofing at the raccoons (i think) that crossed our site. Otherwise, I slept through his shifting (including onto my lap at one point… that one I woke up in the morning to find) in the night. he didn’t seem at all concerned about me sleeping in the tent with him. But I bet he’d have liked the tent just as much without me in it, like Shiva 😛


  5. The tent is just too cute. What a good idea. Of course my two would probably decimate the thing trying to get a squirrel or another animal walking by. 🙂

    Our dogs sleep in our room, but not on the bed (the cat is usually there). Of course when Storm is in season, they must be separated and usually Thunder is downstairs and Storm is upstairs.


  6. You don’t need to ask anyone else if you’re doing the right thing for Shiva. She’s already told you.

    Shiva doesn’t freak out at night (whether at home or in her tent). She goes to her bed without lots of stress.

    Obviously you are doing exactly what she needs. Shiva has told you she belongs to the Clan of the Cave Dog (along with Bella over at I Still Want More Puppies) and she loves having a cozy place of her own to sleep in.

    Good for you! And stop feeling guilty about doing what’s best for your dog! 🙂


  7. Pamela is right, you must do what is best for Shiva, obviously she likes it.

    Sampson and Delilah sleep in our room, and in our bed. Sampson sleeps lengthwise between us and Delilah curls up at the foot. Sometime during the night (in the summer months) Sampson shifts to one of the beds on the floor.

    In ideal circumstances (no cat) we would leave the bedroom door open and they would choose where to sleep. Even then most times they choose to sleep in our room. When our daughter takes her cat back, we will go back to leaving the door open. If we leave it open now the cat comes in and disturbs us.

    Sampson was already sleeping with us when Delilah joined the pack and it seemed mean (to me) to put her in one room while the rest of us slept in another.

    It works. For the most part….


  8. I agree with the others — every dog is different. Our Chick sleeps in our room and would have it no other way, but some of our fosters have been indifferent. Gonzo got upgraded to sleeping in our room, which he craved, and I immediately saw a huge improvement in his ability to be calm and mellow — not just at night, but all day long. But, not every dog is like that. Obviously Shiva enjoys having her night to herself so she can plot her takeover 🙂


  9. Pearl sleeps in her crate in our bedroom. We tried letting her sleep in bed with us, but she wanders around, jumps on and off the bed, and can’t relax. She settles immediately in her crate and sleeps through the night as long as it is in the same room as us. I used to feel guilty but now I am just thankful that we have a sleeping arrangement that let’s us all get some rest. I like my dog much better in the morning this way 🙂


  10. All of our critters are free to sleep where they would like to sleep. Shayne ALWAYS sleeps with me curled up by my torso often with her head on my pillow. Rio almost always sleeps with me under the covers behind my knees–he will occasionally sleep on the floor next to my bed. Bandit sleeps at the foot of my mom’s bed most days but sometimes he comes out to the living room (other side of the house) to either sleep on a plush bed or in the crate on a plush bed… our cats sleep everywhere LOL! i swear they visit multiple sleep-locations throughout the night!

    I wouldn’t feel bad about letting Shiva sleep in her own space if that is what she wanted…. if she cried and wanted to be with you, it would be a different ball game…but she likes it…


  11. That’s just so cool. I don’t think my pups would go for it–but its a great idea for those independent pooches!

    That stuff about how dogs shouldn’t sleep with their people is pretty old-school…just like the rest of what you hear from those TV bullies 🙂 Most modern trainers say that its just fine to sleep with your pups, though many recommend that bed privileges be revoked when a dog has been misbehavin’, and be a privilege earned through good behavior.

    I totally agree that it is natural to cuddle up with the pups at night and have them sleep with us. I wish I could have both my boys in bed with us, but it takes a lot of work to get them to overcome their anxiety around each other. At least this affords lots of training opportunity–which also occurs in bed!


  12. Our Best Friend has always slept on the floor of our room. In the last year he’s taken to wandering around the house during the night, going from our room to the living room couch to his own bed in the entrance hall.

    One trainer told us we shouldn’t allow him to sleep with us, so he would get used to being apart and we’d be able to leave him on a leash in the back yard. We never did it. He can’t stand being separated from us in a way that doesn’t allow him access; he’ll voluntarily sit in a different room, but he can’t be left on the other side of a closed door. Very insecure little doggie is he.

    I’m with Pamela– if Shiva’s happy, everyone’s happy.


  13. Kita sleeps with us – at the end of the bed on her own blanket. But then – she isn’t very big. When we had Shepards they used to sleep where ever they wanted – but most times they stayed on their beds in the back porch.


  14. We have a 3-person backpacking tent for when we go camping, so it fits both of us + Moses (weight in at 8lbs, which is on the heavy side for going to the backcountry, but still good for a 3 person tent). We just lay down a blanket, and Moses sleeps in there with us. A few times we’ve also been dog-sitting during camping trips, and in that case, the 4 of us can still fit in quite comfortably.

    In the house, Moses prefers a cool tile floor to sleep on, and he moves around throughout the night, but usually starts just sleeping in front of our bedroom doorway. The cats are often on the bed, though.

    It sounds like you have worked out the perfect system for Shiva! She’s got her own space that she’s comfortable in, and it keeps her warm and dry. Actually, it sounds like a small tent is a great, cost-effective option if considering a soft crate in almost any event.


  15. Hear hear! Let Shiva sleep where Shiva wants to sleep!!!! 😀

    I’m all for dogs sleeping with people. Dog packs in the wild (which are actually families, not hierarchies) all sleep together, in the den. To me, it’s part of fostering that family pack environment.
    My doggies aren’t supposed to sleep on the bed when Hubby is in it as well – purely for space reasons, they are BIG WOOFERS. But lately Miss Emo Dingo has decided that if the cats are allowed on the bed all the time, so should she!!
    Luke and Shez (the Dingo) sleep on the bed, or at the foot of it on my ‘floordrobe’ and an old doona 😛 Miss Brit prefers to sleep on the couch in the lounge. Sometimes she sleeps in the bedroom, but she likes the couch better.

    Stuff those TV Bullies! As long as the dog isn’t causing a problem, why not let it do what makes it happy???


  16. Oh and I totally understand about needing havens for the kittehs. Thankfully my dogs and cats get along these days… although the middle child cat still doesn’t like the baby, LOL.
    I have too many pets! (3 dogs 3 cats)


  17. How cool that she can sleep in it and not destroy it! I think there would be a Sophie shaped hole in the side if she heard something outside.

    Sophie sleeps in my room. Either on the couch, her bed, her crate or very rarely she will deign to sleep on the bed. She seems to prefer her space and not sharing the bed.


  18. It’s all about finding out what works for all involved. I like crating my dogs at night so that I can rest assured they are not getting into any trouble and thus I can sleep more sound. Luna spent the first night in bed with me the other night, and she is over 3 years old. She did very well and did not wake me up (I’m a pretty light sleeper). I allow her to be a nap buddy for the Mr. if he wants, but to be honest I really don’t care for the dogs to be in the bedroom with us. Wyatt is not allowed in there at all, as I do not want the hair on everything (somewhere has to be lab hair free right?). Call me cruel but it’s what works for (me) us… and the dogs are just fine with it, often going right into their crates on their own if it’s getting late. I might worry slightly about them having their own tent together, as I never leave them confined together without supervision (over protective?) so we would have to figure that out. Most likely they would all just sleep with us if there was room during the night, or rotate.



  19. I agree that all dogs are different in how they prefer to sleep. Annie & Chloe would rather lose a limb than have to sleep with us; Annie take the couch & Chloe takes a recliner, but Pauley likes nothing better than to be with you in bed. He has to constantly be touching you with his entire body! For that reason, he now sleeps on the love seat.The cats prefer it that way too so they can sleep with us 🙂


  20. Stumpy sleeps where ever she wants. She starts out on my bed with me. Then she moves to her bed beside my bed. When I get up in the morning she is in her kennel at the other end of the house.

    I think you should feel guilty about her not having her own chair! Unless, of course, PH has done the right thing.

    Happy, Waggin’ Tails, FUREVER!
    Stumpy and me


  21. I am sure if Shiva didn’t want to sleep in the tent, she could easily shred it.

    Song has always slept in the same room as me. She has her own bed (I sleep in a reclining chair, so she can’t join me).


  22. Elli has her own papasan chair decked out with several pillows that she pushes around and underneath her, but once I snuggle into my bed, she sighs loudly and then waits for my okay to come cuddle with me lol. She’s a super cuddlebug.

    Shiva’s tent reminds me of Mr B and Ms. M’s teepee (Two Pitties in the City), haha.

    I did end up getting Elli a soft-sided crate from (highly recommended for doggy stuff on the almost cheap). Comparatively speaking, I got hers for $70 and it’s been a godsend. I can’t wait to take it camping in a few weeks!


  23. I love the tent idea! See our dogs sleep with us in our tent when we camp, but only because we’ve never considered another idea. Our tent is a four man tent so it’s actually large enough for us to bring a soft crate with us for Stella. Our biggest problem with camping is actually that Oly gets way too cold. Each time we’ve camped I’ve had to force her into my sleeping bag with me in the middle of the night to stop her shivering. Needless to say I don’t get much sleep.

    But, if I got Oly her own small tent she could share with Stella AND her own sleeping bag, maybe she’d be warm, and I’d get some sleep.

    Let the online shopping begin!


  24. I like you think that dogs belong in our beds. I think it’s a wonderful bonding time for them and us. However I do think there are dogs that just require a little more solitude for their sleeping, I guess alot like people. I’ve got one pup that will crawl in to bed with me to “put mommy to sleep” then he moves to the recliner where he prefers to sleep! Sounds like Shiva likes prefers her solitude when sleeping and I think that has to be her choice! Don’t feel bad you are a WONDERFUL DOGGIE MOMMY!


  25. Three of the dogs sleep in our room at night, but Molly has always slept on her own. We used to feel guilty too that she wasn’t with us, but she really prefers it.

    That’s so cute that Shiva has a tent of her own. Does it fold up so it’s easy to carry? Does she have a backpack that she uses to carry her own stuff around?


  26. Kuna is our 14 month old pup – our first dog to sleep by himself. He never really knew anything different and yet the guilt still ate me up inside.

    Lately, I’ve been letting him lie with me on the bed for a couple minutes before taking him to his crate for the night. Now, when we start to shut down for the evening, instead of going to his crate, he walks to our bedroom door and looks at me as if to say “we’re starting here, right??”

    Unbeknownst to my DH, I’ve got an evil plan to have him sleeping in our bed for a full night very soon. Muahahaha!


  27. Rikki often curls up in his crate throughout the evening, and often goes to bed himself. I don’t know if he would prefer to sleep in the parents room, he seems content the way he is 🙂

    I wouldn’t worry about it. I think dogs like their own space, just as people do.


  28. Vito would panic if he had to sleep alone, even with the other dogs.

    Lance cringes when we go camping and he has to sleep in the same tent as us! I know he would prefer to have his own tent at bedtime!


  29. Neither of the girls like to be on the furniture. I can make Daisy lay on the couch for a treat, but she isn’t really the type to lay up there by choice.

    Bella sleeps in her closet or a crate (her choice). Daisy sleeps in a crate BUT she will come in and lay next to the bed when I go to sleep and once I’m settled, she then goes to sleep in her crate.


  30. That is amazing! I have this feeling that Kayloo at the very least would crash that tent down and drag it with her half way down the campground!

    The dogs sleep in our room- Kayloo used to have her crate in the hall, but there was a nook I got it to fit in so we’re all in the same room now.


  31. Too cool! I think it’s great that Shiva has her own tent and loves it. For Ty, sleeping with us – or even cuddling on the sofa – is a punishment. He’s simply not much for snuggling. Buster would be right in the middle of the bed with his head on the pillow if we’d let him, but in the Winnebago we sleep over the cab so that’s not an option. From the beginning the boys have each had their own bed. They used to be in our bedroom, but now that we’re in the RV they’re in our bedroom/kitchen/dining room/living room. =) I agree that for some dogs cuddling is important. So, when we watch TV or read, Buster is up on the sofa with us – all snuggled in.


  32. I think if the tent idea works than I wouldn’t worry about it. Now if the question is that you want her to sleep with you, then you would have a different question all together. 🙂

    I remember when Chance first came back he would literally slam into my body to lay down next to me. Then when we got a couch in the same room, that’s where he decided to sleep. I was more than a little hurt that he didn’t want to sleep next to me anymore. But I read a blog talking about the same thing and her conclusion was, maybe her dog had grown up. And I took that as he was healing from what had happened to him and the need to be so close and vice versa. Now he goes back and forth. Sometimes he sleeps with me and sometimes he doesn’t. It is nice either way.

    And believe me there is a thing such as too much closeness. I don’t know how many times I have woke up feeling like I was in a vice between Zappa and Fiona and had to slither my way out of the covers. It was like I was trapped. 🙂

    So celebrate Shiva’s independence. I am blown away that you had such an excellent time with her and she slept in her own tent all night long. WOW! Fantastic!!


  33. Charlie slept in his crate for the first week I had him, then I eventually let him sleep where he wanted in my room. He immediatly went to the bed so it’s obvious his past owners let him sleep there. Later I started making him wait for permission to sleep on the bed.
    Then one night I slept over at a friends and I kicked the wall so hard I had a bruise and I didn’t want my dog sleeping in a bed with me if I can kick that hard in my sleep! Since then he has slept in my room on the floor, In a drawer removed from the bottom of my captain’s bed. (though he has the freedom to sleep anywhere he loves that drawer area.)


  34. Jersey sleeps with us at home and when we camp. When it’s a chilly night, having the “doggie heater” is pretty awesome!

    If Shiva likes to sleep by herself, that’s okay, some dogs prefer it. If I had to put Jersey in her own tent for sleeping, there would be a hole clawed thru in 10 seconds flat! She *loves* to be with her humans.


  35. Barbie sleeps in my room in her crate. Bender sleeps wherever he likes, but not in my bed! Barbie is crated because of toilet training issues when we first got her but it’s the routine now and I wouldn’t change it… and if she wasnt in her crate she would want to curl up on my legs. They are allowed onto the bed for morning cuddles. When camping we all sleep in the same big tent. Bender can be a pain but Barbie is a little angel, she just curls up on her blankets and sleeps.


  36. Don’t feel guilty about Shiva. I used to feel guilty because Beryl slept in her crate and Frankie slept with me and a few weeks ago I decided to let Beryl sleep on the bed. I haven’t had a good nights sleep since as she takes up so much room and seems to push me almost off the bed. Now I feel guilty because Frankie misses it just being us, but Beryl loves sleeping with us so much I can’t go back to putting her in the crate:( So Frankie and I are losing sleep and Beryl is happy as can be, lol!


  37. Once again, I am late to the party. I swear to God I am going to get a Droid or iPhone soon so I can respond after reading your posts.

    You are not the only one with dogs who prefer top sleep alone. Daisy prefers her kennel unless there is a Thunderstorm and she usually only stays until it’s over. Jasper can jump high enough to get on my bed. I have lifted him up there on occasion, but he really prefers the wood floor, where it is much cooler for him.

    I think Shiva is happy with the sleeping arrangements. She would let you know if she weren’t. 🙂


  38. I was just thinking about this (where dogs sleep) on my way in to work this morning!

    When we first got Rufus, he slept alone very nicely on his own cushion near the bed. We had a lot of problems with unpredictable behaviors and biting from this little rescue guy. But sleeping was not a problem.

    I hurt my back while my other half was on an extended trip in Europe. I could hardly move and Rufus jumped onto the bed to be pasted to my side. I couldn’t lift him down, so he slept with me.

    He became a different dog, just from sleeping with me. He was more relaxed and less fearful, less prone to bite first and think later. It’s made a huge difference for him. He still has his own bed, but it’s really only for the occasional nap.

    When we camp, he still chooses to sleep with me, although he gets the option of his own warm blanket nest. You know he’s getting his own tent for shade and relaxing now, right?


  39. Bella sleeps in her own bed in our bedroom. On occasion, I’ve tried to convince her to sleep in the bed with me, but she seems to prefer sleeping alone. She’ll stay for 30 minutes or so, then will get up and hop in her own bed. I think she gets hot, and also she just really likes her bed I guess.


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