New pet parents may always wonder, “why does my dog sleep on me?” There are probably a thousand reasons why dogs like to stay close to their human companion. It could be that they seek protection, warmth, and closeness. Your pooch will insist on staying near you instead of their sleeping position on the floor. Or they may even want to climb up in your beds to lay with you for the night. But is there really something more to it?
Dogs are “pack” animals. Their wolf ancestors hunt together and sleep together for security and warmth. But since it's modern-day now, should you still encourage your dog to sleep with you in your bed? Likewise, that expensive dog bed you bought will be of no use if your dog will not use it. On the other hand, if your pet does not sleep beside you for body heat, does it mean that you are not a part of their pack? Let us learn more about these interesting dog sleeping habits and whether or not we should encourage such dog sleeping positions.
The Reason Why Your Dog Loves to Sleep on You
Puppies huddle together as soon as they are born. It is natural for canines to sleep in a puppy pile and snuggle with each other for warmth. It makes your dogs feel most comfortable and secure. And when you take a puppy home with you, they tend to find that same feeling of coziness and warmth even when they are already grown up. Thus they try to find a way to snuggle with their human and prefer to sleep beside you instead of the floor.
A Sign of Closeness and Affection
When a dog wants to give kisses, sit, lay, or cuddle close to their human, they show their affection and love for you. Sleeping close to you or on you means they trust you and consider you as a member of their pack or their human leader. It also signifies that they are loyal to you and are willing to protect you. But if your dog does want to snuggle through the night, it is likely that they are overheated, just can’t settle comfortably, or don't like sleeping with your cats around. In some cases, your pooch may find your bed too soft and lack the support that they want. More so, there are dog breeds like Collies, Retrievers, and English Bulldogs tend to be extra cuddly with their humans than any other breeds.
Encouraging The Behavior
Most dogs do not need any encouragement to join you as you snooze. Your pup can take the liberty to nap with you even without you saying. But there are also some who are not so keen to curl up beside you and that’s all right. If you really want to have your dog sleep with you, figure out why they seem averse to sleeping in your bed. It might be because your pup cannot climb up easily, or the bed is too soft for them. You may also be changing position so much in your bed so they think that it's not okay for them to join you.
If you want to encourage them to join you in bed, allow them to nap in your room and slowly lure them onto the bed using treats or toys. Ideally, pets will like sleeping on your bed if they have a positive association with it. But it might not be a good idea to play with your pooch before bedtime too. Additionally, if you have a small dog, consider getting a bed ladder so that they can climb up easily.
On the other hand, if you want to discourage the behavior, you can do it with consistent training. For some dog person, their dogs can take up a lot of space or disturb your comfortable snooze with too much toss and turn. So, don’t allow them on your bed one night and refuse them on the following nights. If your dog has comfortable bed products, they may also be discouraged to join you on your bed.
If you are used to having your dog sleep on your bed and this has stopped suddenly, don’t be alarmed. It doesn’t mean that there is something wrong. However, you should still pay attention to your pet’s behavior and body language. They may have signs of pain, discomfort, or lack of appetite. If everything seems well, but they still don’t want to curl up beside you it might be because they had a whiff of something interesting.
Reasons Why Your Dog Sleeps On You
In addition to those mentioned above, as our dog grows from playful puppies to well-trained adult dogs, they start to consider their humans as their family. Some canines will be content to curl up at the end of your bed, and others are more comfortable sleeping elsewhere. Every dog has an individual preference and this also changes from time to time. Check out these common reasons why dogs love to sleep on you -
- It is more comfortable - your pooch may find that sleeping on you is more comfortable than laying on their bed. If it rests its head on you and chooses to lay on top of you while not showing any uncommon behavior, then this could be the reason why they like to sleep with you.
- It is being protective - one of the many reasons why your pet likes to lay on you is that they are feeling protective of you. If you notice them being protective of you around other people and animals, they would certainly do so when you nap too. This is the more likely reason if you also notice them facing the main door when they curl on you to sleep.
- It wants your attention - some dogs may be trying to get extra attention from their person, thus they snuggle on you during your downtime. It is a possible reason if your pet often lays on you during the day and you give it extra attention when it behaves this way.
- It feels safer - most breeds work alongside their humans and feel safer when they are surrounded by their people. Laying or sleeping on top of you could be one of their ways to feel safer because it includes them in a group and makes them less vulnerable.
- It shows affection to you - if your pet loves to lay on top of you for no reason, then it is likely that it is just being affectionate. They may insist that you give them a belly rub or some head rub before snoozing.
- It has separation anxiety - many pets experience separation anxiety when their humans are not around. If your pet becomes anxious whenever you are leaving, or if it sleeps or lays on top of you before you normally leave from home, it may be one of their ways of preventing you from leaving.
- It is waiting for you - since pets can’t talk, they usually show their intention through body language. Your pet may also be waiting for you to do something for them like a walk or some treats.
Other Considerations To Find Out The Main Reason Why Your Dogs Sleep On You
Apart from those mentioned above, here are further considerations when you are trying to figure out why your pet is always trying to sleep on you.
What Happened When it First Started?
If it is not in your pet’s norm to sleep on you before, you might want to recall what could have happened when it first started. For instance, your pet might have shown signs of anxiety or you started leaving them alone for long periods. Likewise, you might have taken them in your room for a cuddle and they loved the experience thus, they took the liberty of jumping on your bed and on top of you to sleep the next night.
Is there a difference when it does not sleep on you?
If your dog tends to do this habit more at a certain time, you should also consider what is different at this period. For instance, it might be waiting for its food thus it snuggles up on top of you.
What To Do To Discourage Your Dog from Sleeping On You
Some dog breeds can be extra clingy and want to be with you even as you sleep. But having a pooch on you is not always a comfortable sleeping position. If you want your pooch to stop this dog sleeping habits, here are some suggestions:
Training them with Positive Reinforcement
Start encouraging your pet to lay or sleep somewhere else in the house. You can use positive reinforcement training to teach them the behavior that you want them to develop. For example, you can give them rewards like praises or treats when they behave in a manner that you expect from them.
You can train them to sleep in a certain spot in your home by doing the following:
Make a comfortable space for them to sleep:
- Get them to stay in this spot and give them a reward if they do
- Encourage your pet to lay down on the spot by offering toys and a treat
- Do this several times a day until it recognizes that staying in this spot results in having rewards
Avoid Encouraging the Behavior
If you want them to stop laying or sleeping on you, then start discouraging them from doing it. Avoid giving them belly rubs, petting or hugging them when they hop on the bed or on you. Start training them to sleep where you want them to sleep.
Reduce their Separation Anxiety
As mentioned previously, a dog can be feeling some separation anxiety that is why it keeps on sleeping on you. It would help if you reduce its anxious feeling by taking it out for exercise, giving them dog food, and letting them do their thing before you leave them.
Why Should You Discourage Your Dog From Sleeping On You
For some pet parents, it may be a personal decision to discourage pets from hopping on the bed and sleeping with them. Although it may sound okay, there are several drawbacks when you encourage them to lay on you and sleep. Here are some drawbacks of sleeping with your pet.
- You May Get Sick - Dogs are wonderful companions, but they are also carriers of potential diseases. These cute and cuddly pooches have plaques to fleas and parasites. They can pass it on to you when you let them lay on you or sleep with them. Pet owners get their dogs treated for parasites but hardly consider their own risks. Thus, however comfy and cozy it is to snuggle with your pooch, think of the health hazards it can do for your health.
- It Can Trigger Allergies - Another health problem that may arise due to your dog’s sleeping on you is an outbreak of allergies. Even if you are not allergic to danger, your pet can still gather allergens in its fur and trigger an attack.
- House Training Becomes Difficult- A new puppy with sad eyes is seriously hard to resist. However, think of the potential potty accidents which can happen anytime on your bed! Sometimes, even older dogs who are already house trained may still develop incontinence.
- Disrupted Sleep- Most dog owners admit that they were woken up by their pets at least once during the night. Dogs can be noisy creatures and they are smelly too! You may wake up with a well-placed foot on your face, or your dog snore that’s louder than the buzzsaw. Get more undisturbed sleep for the sake of your health and start training your pooch to sleep someplace else.
- Dogs are Bed Hoggers - Apart from constantly kicking and releasing gas, dogs, even the smallest breeds can hog the bed, claim your pillow, and force you to sleep at the edge. In some cases, even small dogs can become aggressive if they claim the bed before anyone else does.
Finally, although there are some pros to sleeping with your pet on your bed, the decision still remains with you as the owner. When you allow your pet to hop on the bed and lay on you, they take the opportunity to be closer to you. But even if you don’t let them sleep on you, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t love your pet. They can still sleep in the same room as you, but for you both to have your own space, set up dog beds in the area too. Likewise, you can also set up a comfortable and quiet space for them in another place in the house.