Should We Let Sleeping Dogs Lie… With Us?

Synthesizing the Literature and Setting the Agenda for Research on Human-animal Co-sleeping Practices


  • Kirrilly Thompson Central Queensland University
  • Bradley Smith Central Queensland University



Humans and animals share their lives with one another in many ways. Pets, for example, are often considered valuable members of the family. They are invited into human hearts and homes, where they share routines, food and space. Animals are not only important to human waking lives. Some of them also share human beds – be it by invitation or invasion!  Yet, little is known about human-animal co-sleeping practices and their impact on humans, animals and human-animal relations. This is the first paper to critically collate the scant and disparate research on human-animal co-sleeping. Given that the research is risk-centric, the paper turns to established theories on animal attachment to propose explanations for the continued practice of human-animal co-sleeping and its benefits. To redress an anthropocentric bias in the limited existing research, an agenda for further research is outlined on human-animal co-sleeping that considers humans, animals and the human-animal relation.


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Author Biographies

Kirrilly Thompson, Central Queensland University

Dr Kirrilly Thompson is a cultural anthropologist and senior research fellow at Central Queensland University’s Appleton Institute in Adelaide, South Australia. Her research interests coalesce around human-animal relations, risk and culture, with a specialization in human-horse interactions. Her anthrozoological research projects include mounted bullfighting in Southern Spain, riders’ risk perceptions, pet bed-sharing practices, dog-bite intervention programs and horse keeping beliefs and behaviors. Kirrilly is currently leading a three year Australian Research Council project titled ‘Should I stay or should I go? Increasing natural disaster preparedness and survival through animal attachment’ (DECRA 2013). The project will identify ways in which animal attachment can be re-considered as a protective factor for human survival of fires and floods.

Bradley Smith, Central Queensland University

Dr Bradley Smith is a psychologist who specializes in the cognition and behavior of both human and non-human animals. He currently works as a Research Fellow at Central Queensland University (Appleton Institute, Adelaide, Australia), where he studies the cognition and behaviour of wild and domestic canids, various aspects of the human-animal relationship, and lectures in psychology. Some of Bradley’s current projects include the role of the human-animal bond in disaster preparedness and response contexts, human-dingo conflict, the relationship between Indigenous Australians and animals, and the development of dingo behavior.




How to Cite

Thompson, Kirrilly, and Bradley Smith. 2014. “Should We Let Sleeping Dogs Lie… With Us? Synthesizing the Literature and Setting the Agenda for Research on Human-Animal Co-Sleeping Practices”. Humanimalia 6 (1):114-27.




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