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Why Does My Dog Want to Sleep with Me? Uncovering Canine Napping Preferences - PawSafe
Dog Behavior

Why Does My Dog Want to Sleep with Me? Uncovering Canine Napping Preferences

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

why does my dog want to sleep with me

You probably wouldn’t have it any other way, but perhaps you are wondering,”why does my dog always want to sleep with me?”. Are they needy? Do they just want to be around you all the time? There are various reasons, and understanding them can help deepen the bond between you and your canine companion.

Turns out there’s some deep-rooted wolf wisdom behind this clingy behavior, where their ancestors always stuck close to their pack. But there’s more to this nightly ritual than just evolutionary remnants. This is also about the feels, a way for them to express their bond with you. 

As we delve into the reasons behind this common behavior, we uncover not just the motivations of our canines but also the mutual benefits arising from this nighttime companionship. Dr. Chrissy Hoffman, PhD, observes that co-napping is just as beneficial for you by offering feelings of comfort as it is for your pet.

As social creatures that depend on each other  for survival, napping with you puts dogs in close proximity to their “pack members”. In fact, PMC research shows that attachments to owners affect a dog’s sleeping patterns by causing them to spend more time in NREM sleep. Basically, your dog’s snooze time is sweeter with you around. 

Sleeping is a vulnerable state for any animal, especially for dogs who instinctively need to be on alert to protect their pack from threats. When your dog chooses to rest next to you, they show immense trust in you, which is why they have relaxed positions like sleeping on their back. It’s an honor, really. 

When I rescued several Bullmastiffs from a breeder, they had only ever lived in a pen before. I remember the first time they hesitantly came into the house, and their faces the first time they got on the couch. It was pure bliss. Something about a soft, high place to lay off the ground, made them very happy.

As time went on, they started trying out time on my bed. It didn’t take long for the bed to become the most high-value piece of furniture in my house, with each of my dogs making a dash for the bedroom in the evening to avoid being shut out. To save some space for myself on the bed, I’ve put my dogs on rotation. 

Of course, two dogs that are scared of thunder, know they get to sleep in my bed when it rains. So the slightest hint of a rain cloud will have them scratching and whining at my door. So, embrace the opportunity to deepen your connection with your canine buddy and enjoy those warm, snuggly nights!

Did you know? Human-canine studies have shown that snoozing with your dog may also have therapeutic benefits for both of you. These include boosting mood, reducing stress, and improving rest quality. So, don’t feel guilty the next time your pup jumps into bed with you—it’s actually good for the wellbeing of both you and your dog!

11 Reasons Your Dog Wants to Sleep in Your Bed

Understanding the underlying causes of your dog’s desire to nap with you can help both of you have a more restful night. 

If you suspect that health issues are impacting your dog’s rest, it’s essential to consult a veterinarian for guidance and treatment options. So let’s dive right into these 11 common reasons:

1. Establishing Bonds: They Just Love You

Our dogs grow attached to us, as we are their primary source of love, care, and security. Dozing together strengthens the bond between us, creating a level of intimacy that we both crave. Plus, it’s just plain cozy and warm to snuggle up with their mom or dad!

We, as humans, are not the only ones craving cuddles and warmth; our dogs are the same way. In fact, they might enjoy cuddling with us even more! Co-naps provide the perfect opportunity for the exchange of warmth, touch, and love. Dr. Róbert Bódizs lists owner bonding as one of the socio-ecological factors affecting canine sleep patterns.

So the next time your dog snuggles up to you in bed or lays beside you on the couch, know it’s not just for warmth or comfort. It’s also their way of expressing love and connection, further strengthening the special bond between you. Our article on how dogs show affection gets into the other ways your dog says they love you.

2. Need to Feel Safe

Dogs believe you will keep them safe while they let their guard down to rest. This trust further solidifies our bond with our pets. This bonding is established through their natural pack mentality, trust, and the affection we mutually share. 

In this section, we’ll discuss two common reasons dogs might want to share a bed: fear of loud noises and separation anxiety.

Fear of Loud Noises

Loud noises, such as thunderstorms or fireworks, can be quite distressing for our canine companions. By napping in our bed, they’re seeking comfort and reassurance in our presence. Here are some tips to help your dog feel more at ease during these situations:

  • Create a safe haven: Designate a quiet, secure area in your home with comfortable bedding and some of your dog’s favorite toys.
  • Soundproofing: Consider using curtains or soundproofing materials to muffle loud noises from outside.
  • Calming techniques: Introduce calming scents, such as lavender and CDB oil. Also, remove or desensitize them from stressors.

Separation Anxiety

Some dogs may experience separation anxiety, which causes them to become overly anxious and stressed when left alone. Sharing a bed with us can alleviate loneliness and provide a sense of security. Here’s what we can do to help our dogs cope with separation anxiety:

  • Gradual desensitization: Slowly introduce periods of separation and gradually increase their duration over time.
  • Training: Teaching your dog basic obedience commands and rewarding them for being calm and relaxed when alone can go a long way in reducing separation anxiety.
  • Consistent routine: Establishing a consistent routine for feeding, walking, and playtime can help your dog feel more secure when you’re away.

3. Warmth

We all love a warm and cozy place to wind down, and our dogs are no exception. As descendants of wolves, they’re instinctively drawn to resting in piles for warmth, protection, and collective keenness to surroundings.

When your dog curls up with you at night, they tap into their ancestral behavior of finding the warmest spot to rest. This physical warmth not only keeps your dog comfortable but also promotes a sense of security and relaxation.

Fun fact: More than 34% of kids sleep with their dogs, and researchers found no effect on the kids’ sleep dimensions. While the effect of bed-sharing on pediatric rest needs more research, so far, so good, and they seem to love it!

4. Pack Instinct

Dogs are descendants of wolves known for their strong pack bond. When we bring a dog into our family, we become their pack. As descendants of pack animals, dogs naturally seek close contact with their family members. Bed sharing provides that sense of closeness and security, making them feel safe and relaxed.

5. Territorial Behavior (Resource Guarding the Bed)

Another reason our dogs may want to jump in your bed is their territorial behavior. Dogs are naturally protective creatures, and one of the ways that they establish boundaries is by marking their territory. When our dogs stay in our bed, they are essentially claiming it as part of their territory, which can give them a sense of security.

6. They Want to Protect You 

By resting near you, dogs can keep a close eye on you and guard against any potential threats. This helps them fulfill their role as loyal protectors, further strengthening the bond between you and your beloved pet.

7. The Bed Is A High-Value Item

Another reason for this behavior is that our bed is considered a high-value item to dogs. After all, it’s cozy, comfortable, and has our scent all over it. 

Dogs are naturally drawn to comfortable resting areas, and it’s no surprise that they’d want to jump on the bed with us. 

8. Habit

Habit might be a factor in your dog’s space-sharing ritual. From puppyhood, dogs learn that beds are comfortable places to rest. If they have been allowed in bed since they were young, they have likely established this behavior as a part of their routine.

9. Comfort in Familiar Scent

Canines have an exceptional sense of smell and find comfort in familiar scents. Your dog might want to nap with you not just for your physical warmth but also to be surrounded by your scent. Your scent acts as a source of reassurance and security.

10. Aging Dogs

As dogs get older, they may experience a decline in their cognitive functions, vision, and hearing capacities. This can make nights particularly disorienting and scary for our canines. Snoozing with us can provide them with a sense of security and familiarity, reducing anxiety and allowing them to rest better.

Common signs of aging in dogs include:

  • Confusion: Difficulty navigating familiar environments and disorientation even at home.
  • Changes in napping patterns: Increased nighttime activity and difficulty settling down.
  • Behavioral changes, such as growling at you at night.
  • Hearing and vision loss: Bumping into walls or objects and unresponsiveness to auditory cues.

In these situations, adjusting your dog’s night-time arrangement, like using a dog bed close to your bed, can help provide them with comfort and the reassurance of your presence.

However, note that your senior dogs can interfere with your rest. This is because Old dog research found that senior dogs spend less time in deep rest and had more wakefulness. Still, being next to you can prove comfort in their twilight years.

11. Physical Illness

Physical pain or discomfort can make it hard for our dogs to spend the night alone. When a dog is not feeling well, they’re more likely to seek our company due to an instinct to feel safe and protected while vulnerable. Moreover, feeling our body warmth and listening to our heartbeats may have a soothing effect on our dogs.

Some common health issues that may cause your dog to seek your proximity at bedtime:

  • Arthritis: Joint inflammation can make it uncomfortable for a dog to settle on the floor or a hard surface.
  • Digestive disorders: Dogs with an upset stomach may feel more at ease close to their owner.
  • Injuries: Wounds or injuries could make it painful for dogs to lie in certain positions or on certain surfaces.

What to Do if It’s Problematic

Sometimes, a dog’s desire to jump in your bed can become an issue. A study of 5499 observations found that bed-sharing with dogs resulted in trouble sleeping and sleep disorders in a majority of the participants. So, it makes sense to find ways to control this behavior when it becomes problematic. 

Training Your Dog

Training is a great way to set boundaries and establish a routine that works for both you and your dog. Some techniques to consider:

  • Crate training: Teaching your dog to stay in their crate can give them a safe, comfortable space of their own.
  • Teaching “Off” command: If your dog jumps onto your bed, use a consistent command like “off” to help them understand the boundary.

Dog Beds

Providing your dog with a comfortable alternativ-e-archive to your bed is essential. Some tips for choosing the perfect dog bed:

  1. Size: Make sure the bed is large enough for your dog’s size and napping position.
  2. Location: Place the bed in a quiet, cozy spot where they can rest undisturbed.
  3. Quality: Investing in a high-quality, durable bed will help provide long-lasting comfort for your dog.

Keeping Bedtime Routine

A consistent bedtime routine can help your dog understand that it’s time for them to settle down for the night. Some ideas for creating a routine:

  • Evening walk: Taking your dog on a walk before bed can help tire them out and reduce their energy levels.
  • Calm activities: Engaging in quiet, soothing activities, like gentle petting or listening to soft music, can signal to your dog that it’s time to unwind.
  • Consistency: Going to bed at the same time each night will help your dog understand the routine.

By addressing problematic habits, you can ensure a more peaceful night’s rest for both you and your dog.

Health Implications of Sleeping With Your Dog

Positive Effects

Bed-sharing with a dog can have several positive effects on a person’s health. Firstly, it can help reduce stress levels. Dogs are known to have a calming effect on their owners, and falling asleep with a dog can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.

 Secondly, it can help improve sleep quality. Studies have shown that napping with a dog can help people fall asleep faster and longer. This is because the presence of a dog can provide a sense of security and comfort, which can lead to a more restful night.

Potential Problems

While there are many positive aspects to bed sharing with a dog, some potential problems suggest you shouldn’t sleep with your dog. One of the main concerns is the risk of allergies. Some people are allergic to dogs, and staying with a dog can exacerbate their symptoms. 

Additionally, dozing with a dog can increase the risk of contracting certain illnesses, such as ringworm or salmonella. It is vital to ensure that the dog is clean and healthy before allowing them in the same bed.

Overall, while there are some potential risks associated with sleeping with a dog, the positive effects on a person’s health can outweigh them. However, it is important to consider individual circumstances and make an informed decision based on personal preferences and health considerations.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why does my dog sleep at my feet instead of next to me?

Dogs may choose to stay at their owner’s feet because they feel more secure and protected in that position. It can also be a sign of respect and submission to their owner. However, some dogs may simply prefer that spot due to personal preference or habit.

Why does my dog sleep in my bed without me?

Dogs may jump in their owner’s bed even when their owner is not there because it smells like their owner and provides them with a feeling of comfort and security. Additionally, dogs may enjoy the warmth and softness of the bed.

Why does my dog sleep on me and not my husband?

Dogs may choose to lay on one person over another for various reasons. It could be because they feel closer to that person, or because they find that person’s body heat more comfortable. It could also be due to a specific routine or habit that the dog has developed.

Do dogs like sleeping with their owners?

Many dogs enjoy lying next to their owners and find it comforting. However, every dog is different and some may prefer to nap alone or in a separate bed.

Why does my dog want to sleep with me all of a sudden?

If your dog suddenly wants to share your bed, it could be due to changes in their environment or routine. It could also be a sign of anxiety or stress, so it’s important to monitor your dog’s behavior and consult with a veterinarian if necessary.

How do dogs choose who to sleep with?

Dogs may choose to rest near someone based on their level of comfort and trust in that person. It could also be due to personal preference or a specific routine that the dog has developed.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, there are a variety of reasons why dogs want to nap with their human companions. It could be due to their natural pack instincts, a desire for warmth and comfort, or simply because they enjoy being close to their owners.

It is important for dog owners to understand and respect their pet’s behavior and needs. Providing a comfortable resting space for the dog, such as a cozy dog bed, can help promote healthy habits for both the dog and the owner.

Additionally, it is recommended that dog owners establish clear boundaries and rules for sleeping arrangements to prevent any potential behavioral issues or conflicts.

References:

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.