A woman cuddling a dog

Why does my dog sleep on me?

Why does my dog sleep on me? Understanding Dog Behaviour

Dogs are known to be “man's best friend” since they love to be close to their owners and spend quality time together. If you’re wondering why your dog sleeps on you, be rest assured that this is one of the many ways that dogs strengthen their bond with their owners. There are various reasons behind why dogs want to sleep with you, including a combination of instinctual, social and emotional factors. However, not all dog parents will be comfortable with a dog sleeping on top of them - especially if their dog is particularly large! It’s also important to make sure that the reason why your dog has to sleep while touching you is for closeness, rather than due to separation anxiety or resource guarding.

In this article, we look at what it means when your dog sleeps on you and when the behaviour may be concerning. We also advise dog parents how to encourage their dog to sleep with them, if they want to, or how to discourage the behaviour and create a separate sleep space for your dog instead. It’s crucial that dog parents establish which behaviours of their dog are desirable for the household so that you can be consistent with training and set boundaries that keep everyone happy.

What does it mean when your dog sleeps on you?

The reason why your dog sleeps on you is usually because they want to be as close as possible to their human companions. Dogs will sleep with you as they feel warm and secure in your presence and therefore can rest comfortably. It’s also a bonding experience for both.

It’s reassuring when your dog sleeps so close to you, as it means they value your relationship deeply. It provides a sense of security for your dog since they know they are safe and can rest without worrying about any threats or dangers. It also helps that your dog is familiar with your scent, and along with the warmth that your body offers, you become a soothing and calming place for your dog. It’s important to understand your dog’s body language alongside their behaviours, as they may also be trying to communicate their needs by climbing on you - such as wanting attention or affection.

How does a dog choose who to sleep with?

There are various factors that influence who a dog chooses to sleep with, but it’s usually the person with whom your dog has the closest bond. This is often the primary caregiver, as your dog will be most comfortable with them, knowing that they take care of their daily needs.

Understanding your dog’s sleep patterns

Humans are monophasic sleepers, which means we are awake during the day and sleep at night, whereas dogs are polyphasic sleepers as they take naps throughout the day. In fact, this may even be to the point that you begin to wonder why does my dog sleep so much?’ Dogs require lots of rest in order to conserve and replenish their energy levels for essential activities. Puppies need even more sleep due to their rapid growth and development, and dog parents may want to follow some tips for puppy sleep.

While dogs have evolved to be the domesticated pets that we love today, there are many instinctive behaviours that derive from their wild ancestors. This includes the pack mentality, and it’s thought that dogs regard their owners and their family as part of their pack. In the wild, dogs would sleep close to their pack mates, and as puppies, your dog would have slept next to its mother and littermates. One of the reasons why dogs sleep on you is because it reinforces their sense of security, provides comfort and warmth, and deepens the social bond between you. And if your dog likes to sleep on your feet, this could be because they are protecting you too by staying at the foot of your bed.

Is it bad to let your dog sleep on you?

It’s entirely up to dog parents to decide whether or not they want their dog to sleep on them. Each family has its own schedule and lifestyle, which is why it’s important to decide which behaviours of your dog you are comfortable with. It may be possible to compromise and let your dog sleep at your feet instead!

Dog parents should also ensure that the reason why their dog sleeps on them is not due to separation anxiety, hyper-attachment or resource guarding. Some dogs have separation anxiety, which means they feel anxious when away from their owners. This may cause dogs to follow their owners around, and could be why your dog sleeps so close to you. Dogs can also be hyper-attached to their owners as a result and may have an underlying fear of abandonment. In this case, high emotional dependence can lead to dogs being possessive.

In households where there are other dogs or pets, your dog may be marking you as part of their territory. Resource guarding is when dogs try to claim ownership over something. This can quickly become problematic if dogs are aggressive when someone else comes near to you, as they’ll find this stressful, and can even lead to them biting.

How to stop your dog from sleeping on you?

If you don’t want your dog to sleep on you or your feet, there are some training methods you can implement to discourage the behaviour. First of all, dog parents should observe what is going on just before their dog sleeps on them. Is your dog seeking your attention? Are they expecting a walk or a meal? Do they hear something outside that they feel is a danger or threat? Once you identify what causes your dog to sleep so close to you, you’ll better understand their reasons behind the behaviour.

Then, it’s important to stop encouraging your dog to sleep on you. This includes not giving in to your dog or rewarding their behaviour with any attention. Even negative attention, such as if you scold your dog, can reinforce the undesired behaviour. Instead, you should engage in positive reinforcement training.

In order to train your dog to not sleep on you, you’ll need to provide an alternative. Make sure that your dog has a comfortable dog bed in their own sleeping space, which is warm, cosy and enclosed so that they feel safe to sleep there alone. Whenever your dog sleeps in their bed, you can reward them with praise and treats so they create positive associations with the bed - this will help to encourage the desired behaviour. You could also place something for them to snuggle up to in their sleep area, such as a blanket, pillow or safe soft toy.

Although we want to maintain a loving relationship with our dogs, it’s important to set boundaries so both you and your dog are happy with the arrangement. While it may be difficult to refuse your dog’s cuddles, you’ll need to be consistent to avoid causing your dog confusion. Learn the pros and cons before deciding if you should let your dog sleep with you.

Creating a cosy sleeping space for your dog

It’s important for dog parents to foster a comfortable and healthy sleeping environment in order to your dog healthy and happy. This will help stop your dog from sleeping with you, and instead encourage them to sleep in their own space. Here are some tips on how to do this:

  1. Provide a dedicated sleeping area. When setting up a bed for your dog, make sure that it is suitable for your dog’s size, and include some blankets and their favourite soft toys for added comfort.
  2. Consider your dog’s needs. It’s best to place your dog’s bed in an enclosed space that is warm so that they feel safe and cosy while they sleep.
  3. Keep it clean. Maintain cleanliness and hygiene by regularly washing your dog’s bedding to prevent the buildup of dust and dirt, as well as parasites.
  4. Create a bedtime routine. dog will sleep better if they have a consistent bedtime routine, including some exercise, grooming and playtime, as well as using key words such as ‘goodnight.’
  5. Stay close. If your dog has to sleep whilst touching you, you may want to keep their dog bed in the same room so they feel comforted by your presence, whilst maintaining personal space.

How to get your dog to sleep with you?

Whether or not it’s possible to get your dog to sleep with you depends on their personality and your preference. Some dogs might sleep at your feet, whereas other dogs prefer their own space completely. Since not all dogs are cuddly, it’s important to respect your dog’s boundaries. You can try to encourage your dog to sleep with you by bringing them to bed and rewarding them with treats and praise when they stay.

However, besides sleeping with you, there are other ways to strengthen the bond between you and your dog. You can engage in interactive playtime with your dog regularly, which is not only physically stimulating but also fosters a sense of companionship. There are also other ways to spend quality time together, such as activities like walks and hikes, or by simply lounging together in the evenings.

While it’s not worrying if your dog wants to sleep on you, keep an eye on their general behaviour and rule out any stress or anxiety they may be experiencing. If you’re happy with the cuddles - that’s great! If not, you can implement positive reinforcement training to improve your dog’s behaviour. And if you’re worried about your canine companion, here’s another tip that will help to strengthen your bond with your dog: serve high-quality food. James Wellbeloved™ Dog Food provides a complete and balanced diet for your dog, using natural ingredients and including essential vitamins and minerals. By providing your dog with important nutrition, it will support them physically, mentally and emotionally - and they will love you for it.