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Why Does My Dog Hide Under the Bed? Exploring the Reasons Behind This Behavior - PawSafe
Dog Behavior

Why Does My Dog Hide Under the Bed? Exploring the Reasons Behind This Behavior

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

Why Does My Dog Hide Under the Bed

If you are googling “Why Does My Dog Hide Under the Bed?” you are likely worried your canine companion is scared, stressed, or uncomfortable. This behavior can become a worry for pet parents and a sign of underlying issues that need attention.

For many dogs, hiding under a bed or table out of sight can feel like a personal safe space. They may like the little den environment and find comfort in specific locations that remain unchanged. If they don’t have a comfy dog bed, your dog may want their own space to sleep.

To answer the question of why your dog hides under the bed, we reference our expert source, Why Does My Dog Act That Way? A Complete Guide to Your Dog’s Personality, by Stanley Coren. We will look at the causes of the behavior and discuss some possible solutions to the issue.

So let’s look at some common reasons dogs hide under beds.

9 Reasons Your Dog May Hide Under Your Bed

9 Reasons Your Dog May Hide Under Your Bed

1. Loud noises

Dogs have sensitive hearing, and sudden loud noises such as thunderstorms, fireworks, or even household appliances can startle and frighten them. As a result, they may seek refuge under the bed for a quieter, more secure hiding space.

2. Trauma

Dogs that have experienced trauma from previous abuse or being attacked by other animals may develop fear-related behaviors like hiding under the bed. The bed provides a secluded area where they feel protected and less vulnerable.

3. Fear of new people, animals, or places

Since hiding under the bed is mostly a fear-response, dogs may hide under the bed when there’s someone in the house that scares them, including strange dogs or new people. Dogs who are not well-socialized or who have perhaps just been rescued from a bad situation, are often frightened and overwhelmed by any thing new.

This includes visitors. However, it’s also common for dogs to hide in a new environment. Suppose you rescue a dog from the street or an abusive situation, they may be overwhelmed in their new home and choose to stay under the bed until they adjust to the idea they may be safe.

4. Safety and Security 

Dogs instinctively need a den-like space where they feel safe and secure, according to Dr. Marty Becker in his book on freeing dogs from anxiety. The space under your bed provides a dark, enclosed area that mimics a den, which can help your dog feel protected and sheltered from potential threats or perceived dangers.

5. Familiar Scent

Your dog may find comfort under your bed because it carries your scent. Dogs have a strong sense of smell, and your scent provides familiarity and reassurance. Being close to your scent can help alleviate anxiety and provide a calming effect for your dog.

6. Temperature Regulation

The space under your bed can offer a cooler or warmer environment, depending on the season and your home’s temperature. Dogs naturally seek out areas that provide the most comfortable temperature. For example, your dog may go under the bed to find relief from heat or to stay warm during colder periods.

7. Peace and Quiet

Dogs appreciate quiet and solitude at times. Under the bed, they can retreat from noise, commotion, or disruptions happening in other areas of the house. It gives them a quiet space to relax and have some downtime.

8. Response to Disease

In the wild, animals often hide when they are sick to avoid attracting predators. Domesticated dogs may still retain this instinct to some degree. Therefore, hiding can be a way for them to protect themselves from potential dangers.

Hiding away in places like underneath beds is quite common in sick dogs, which is why many people wonder if dogs know when they are dying. This is related to questions like whether dogs walk in circles before they die.

9. Injury

When an injured dog is under the bed, it’s often driven by their need for comfort and security. The enclosed space beneath the bed offers them a small sanctuary where they feel protected and sheltered during their vulnerable state. This is much the same as when a dog is sick or even dying.

Understanding Why Your Dog Is Hiding Under The Bed

Understanding Why Your Dog Is Hiding Under The Bed

When your dog hides under your bed, understanding the cause makes it possible to address the issue. However, some causes can be tough to diagnose. No one knows your pup better than you; you must tap into that knowledge to help diagnose the root cause.

Naturally, if your dog is hiding under your bed while presenting with any symptoms that suggest health problems, it is best to take action and seek veterinary aid.

7 Ways to Help Your Dog To Stop Hiding Under Your Bed

If you are concerned and want to help your dog overcome hiding under the bed, there are some practical strategies you can follow. However, remember that the behavior is not necessarily a problem.

1. Give your dog time and respect their space

A dog that is frightened and hiding under the bed should not be forced out. Forcing them into a situation when they are afraid can result in “flooding,” or emotionally and mentally shutting down from extreme stress. When a fearful dog feels safe under your bed, allow them their space and give them time to overcome their fear.

Try not to make a fuss. The more you fuss over a dog that is in a deep of fear, the worse it can become. Maintaining a calm environment and allowing them time is essential. 

2. Address any underlying issues

If your dog is under your bed because they are injured, sick, or have a severe problem like noise phobia, then you need to see a veterinarian to take steps to heal your dog first. 

3. Provide an Alternative to Your Bed

Ensure that your home provides your dog with a safe and predictable environment. Establish a designated safe space where they can retreat when they feel anxious or overwhelmed. This space should be comfortable, quiet, and equipped with their favorite toys, blankets, and bedding.

However, do not force them into a different environment. If they feel safest under your bed, then allow them to foster this sense of safety.

4. Maintain a Routine 

Dogs benefit from a structured routine. Stick to consistent daily routines for meals, walks, playtime, and rest. In addition, predictability helps dogs feel secure and reduces anxiety. That improves their sense of security and may decrease their anxiety. A sense of security often is an essential tool for getting your dog to stop hiding under your bed.

5. Positive Reinforcement

Use positive reinforcement training techniques to build trust and confidence. For example, reward them with treats, praise, and affection when they exhibit calm behavior or progress in overcoming their fears. The process may take time and patience.

6. Desensitization

Desensitization will require the guidance of a professional. It is an effective method when done right. Gradual desensitization techniques can help if your dog hides under your bed in response to fear or anxiety. The goal is to get your pup to stop hiding under your bed by creating positive associations with their triggers. 

Remember, desensitization does not mean forcing your dog into situations they are afraid of and flooding them, as this causes learned helplessness, or “shut down.” The emphasis is on slow and steady desensitization.

7. Counterconditioning

Counterconditioning aims to change your dog’s emotional response to the trigger by associating it with positive experiences.

There are many steps to counterconditioning dogs to sounds that trigger them. One is to play videos of the sounds like the one below while your dog is engaged in fun activity to create a positive association:

8. Consult a Professional

Working with a professional dog trainer or veterinary behaviorist experienced in treating PTSD can be highly beneficial. They can assess your dog’s needs, develop a customized behavior modification plan, and guide you through the process.

9. Consider Medication

In severe cases, medication prescribed by a veterinarian may help manage anxiety symptoms. However, medication should be used in conjunction with behavioral interventions and under the guidance of a professional.

Note: Progress may take time, and every dog’s response to treatment may vary. Be patient, provide plenty of reassurance, and consult with professionals who can offer guidance specific to your dog’s needs.

How to Create an Alternative To Hiding Under Your Bed

Creating a safe and secure space for your dog to sleep is essential for their comfort and well-being. When a dog has such space, they are less likely to seek retreat under your bed. Here are some tips to help you establish such a space:

Choose a Quiet Location

Select a quiet area of your home where your dog can sleep undisturbed. Avoid high-traffic areas or places with excessive noise, such as near household appliances or windows facing busy streets.

Provide a Comfortable Bed

Invest in a comfortable and appropriately sized bed for your dog. Consider their size, age, and any specific needs they may have, such as orthopedic support for joint issues. Choose a bed with soft padding or memory foam to ensure they have a cozy place to rest.

Consider a Crate or Enclosed Area

Some dogs feel more secure in an enclosed space like a crate or playpen. If your dog is crate-trained or enjoys the comfort of a confined area, provide a crate or create a safe enclosure with a comfortable bed, blankets, and toys.

Add Familiar Scents

Place items with familiar scents in the sleeping area, such as your dog’s favorite blanket or clothing that carries your scent. These familiar smells can provide comfort and security for your dog.

Minimize Distractions

Ensure the sleeping area is free from potential distractions or sources of anxiety. For example, keep away noisy toys, avoid positioning the bed near windows with excessive outside activity, and minimize exposure to household commotion.

Provide Adequate Temperature and Ventilation

Ensure the sleeping area is well-ventilated and comfortable. Avoid placing the bed near drafty areas or direct heat sources. Instead, consider using a fan, air conditioning, or additional bedding to regulate the temperature if needed.

Consider Sound and Light

Pay attention to the sound and lighting conditions in the sleeping area. For example, some dogs prefer a slightly dim environment, while others prefer a night light for comfort. Adjust the sound and lighting based on your dog’s preferences.

Help! My Dog Has CDS (Doggy Dementia) And Keeps Hiding Under My Bed

When a dog with cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) constantly hides under your bed, it can be challenging to address their behavior. Patience and understanding are critical when dealing with a dog with CDS. So, why does CDS make your dog hide under your bed?

  • Disorientation: Dogs with cognitive dysfunction syndrome often experience confusion and disorientation. Hiding under the bed can give them a sense of security and help them cope with uncertainty.
  • Anxiety and Fear: Dogs with cognitive dysfunction may develop increased anxiety or fear due to cognitive decline. That could make hiding under your bed feel safe.
  • Sensory Changes: CDS can affect a dog’s sensory perception, including hearing and vision leading them to seek refuge under the bed, where it’s darker and quieter.
  • Memory Loss: Dogs with CDS may struggle with memory loss. Hiding under the bed could result in an attempt to find a place that feels more familiar and comforting to them.

Be gentle, provide reassurance, and monitor their overall well-being. Consider the following tips:

  • Provide a Safe and Comforting Environment
  • Increase Mental Stimulation
  • Maintain a Consistent Routine
  • Ensure Physical Comfort
  • Use a healthy diet and supplements to help with brain function in dogs with dementia
  • Consult with a Veterinarian
  • Consider Professional Behavior Guidance

When a dog has cognitive dysfunction syndrome, one can’t always change the behavior entirely. Instead, the goal is to help your pup so they don’t spend too much time hiding. That way, they receive more mental and physical stimulation, which is integral to caring for a dog with CDS.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it normal for my dog to hide under the bed?

Yes, it is relatively common for dogs to hide under the bed. It can be natural for them to seek out enclosed spaces for various reasons, including fear or simply needing a quiet place to rest.

Is my dog hiding under the bed because they are scared?

Fear is one of the most common reasons dogs hide under the bed. It provides a secluded area where they feel protected and can escape from perceived threats or stressful situations.

Can health issues cause my dog to hide under the bed?

Specific health issues or pain can cause a dog to seek shelter under the bed. Suppose your dog is hiding more frequently or showing signs of illness. In that case, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health concerns.

Why does my dog hide under the bed when I leave?

If your dog is hiding under the bed when you leave, they likely have separation anxiety and don’t feel safe without you. Exercise and reducing your dog’s hyper attachment with place training can help reduce separation anxiety in dogs.

Why does my dog hide under my bed at night?

Dogs may prefer to sleep under your bed at night simply because it feels like a den or safe and secure place to them. It may also be a way of sleeping near you. When dogs are afraid, such as during thunderstorms at night, they may also crawl under your bed.

Why is my dog suddenly hiding under the bed?

If your dog never hid under the bed before but has suddenly started, look for a change in the environment like a new pet that is making them afraid. Other possibilities include illness or injury.

Final Thoughts

Dogs hiding under the bed can be typical behavior for various reasons. While fear and anxiety are frequent causes, dogs may also seek safety, security, comfort, or temperature regulation.

Understanding your dog’s behavior and addressing the underlying cause is vital in helping them feel more secure. Consider providing alternativ-e-archive safe spaces, maintaining a routine, using positive reinforcement, and seeking professional guidance.

Remember that every dog is unique, and patience is crucial in addressing this behavior. If you have concerns, consult a veterinarian or certified animal behaviorist who can provide tailored advice for your dog’s situation.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

Author

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.