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Why Does My Dog Sleep on Me? | 14 Possible Reasons

Many dog owners wonder why their believed pooches like to snooze on top of them throughout the night. Maybe your dog sleeps on your husband instead of you which may also have you perplexed. All pooches often have strange quirks that raise some questions like why does my dog sleep on me?

As pup parents, you want to know that your fur baby is happy and healthy and that their behavior isn’t indicative of an underlying concern. So if you’ve found yourself at a loss about your canine’s sleeping habits then rest assured, this article will cover all your questions and concerns. Read on to dive right in.

puppy in bed

Why Does my Dog Sleep on Me?

You may be thinking that you have a super clingy doggo on your hands or maybe you’re concerned that they are trying to communicate something more to you. Either way, dog owners have found themselves at a loss for some of their pooch’s habits like choosing to make themselves comfortable right on top of their unsuspecting owner.  

Some owners let their dogs sleep with them in bed and find that it makes for a comforting environment. But others find their pooch in their bed and don’t really know when they started doing this or how to stop the behavior.  

Many dogs take closeness, or lack of personal space, to a whole new level. This begs a common question. Why does my dog sleep on me? And whether this behavior is a sign of something more complex going on.

1. The History of Wild Dog Packs

When it comes to the history of dogs, there are still many pack-related behaviors that have remained over time and that your pups may still exhibit from time to time. Much like all animals, dogs have deeply ingrained instincts that have remained even long after dogs became domesticated.  

two husky dogs running in the snow

So while your hound may live as a pet and family member in your household today, many of their behaviors can still be traced back to their wild pack history.  

The answer to the much-awaited question is simple. It dates back to the early history of dogs and to the days when they lived in the wild. Dogs and wolves lived in packs for the protection and safety it provided.  

Dogs are some of the most social animals out there, which is no surprise why humans bond so closely with their pooches. There’s no doubt that at any given time, dogs would choose to be in the company of their humans or even other animals.  

If you are a cat owner too, you have probably seen by now that your feline will happily be left alone to do their own thing for hours or even days. This is wildly different from being a dog parent. You may notice that if you leave your pup alone for too long that they become stressed, anxious, and bored. This is because, since the beginning of time, they were raised in a community.

2. Dogs Also Lie on Other Dogs

In the wild, it’s normal for wolves and wild dogs who live in packs to assert dominance over one another. For instance, one male who is being considered as the alpha male would expect the other pack members to show their inferiority by displaying certain behaviors.

Why Does My Dog Sleep on Me? | 14 Possible Reasons 1

3. Dogs Assert Their Dominance By Lying On Other Dogs

One of these behaviors is lying on top of another animal. When there is more than one dog in your household, it’s normal for one to try to assert their dominance by lying on the weaker dog.  

They may also lie on top of their human parents to make a claim on their owner in front of the other dogs. They’re essentially saying ‘this is primarily my human, just so we’re clear”.

4. They Like Leaving Their Scent

You may have noticed your precious pooch brushing up on things like the side of the couch, another dog, or even you. This is a classic display of their unique pack characteristics.   

When another animal comes along and smells this scent, they will think twice before entering the dog’s surroundings. They will also think about approaching their human family members. In this way, it makes sense why your dog likes to perch on top of you – they are likely marking you as an important part of their surroundings.  

white labrador in bed with man Why Does my Dog Sleep on Me

Since your pooch sees you as their sole caretaker, they know that their living needs like socialization, shelter, and food come from you. In a pack sense, they see you as the top dog.  

Therefore, if your dog lies on you when there are other hounds in the house it could be that they are not so much asserting dominance over you, the master, but rather over the other pets. They are staking a claim over you in front of these other, so-called, pack members in your house. 

5. It Could be a Bad Habit

While it may be endearing to see how close your pooch wants to sleep to you, it can be frustrating for some dog owners. So if you’re tired of sleepless nights and of waking up with stiff joints, you may be feeling desperate to get your pooch off your back or your chest.  

If your pup has made you their pillow, then it’s helpful to establish when the habit began. If they’ve been doing it since they were a puppy then the behavior will be a little more solidified.  

If not, you can treat it like any other bad habit that your pooch needs to unlearn, like incessant nighttime barking, constant whining, or chewing on your furniture. With the right training and positive reinforcement techniques, you can train your pup back to their own bed at night.

dog yawning in bed with alarm clock

6. They’re Trying to Tell you that Something is Wrong

If this behavior has happened out of the blue and you feel sure that it’s not simply a bad habit, then you may be worried that your fur baby is trying to tell you that something is wrong.  

In some cases, these sleep behaviors may just be your pooch’s way of telling you that something is the matter, physically or emotionally. After all, you are a place of comfort so it would make sense that they want to crawl up on your chest at night to soothe themselves.  

If you’re concerned that your pooch suffers from general anxiety or separation anxiety then it may be a good idea to invest in some calming CBD treats or CBD oils for your pooch. It may be that if you’re out all day at work and your hound misses you, they feel the need to cuddle you throughout the night.  

Dogs form a very close bond with their human parents so be sure that you are giving your beloved hound plenty of attention and love whenever you can. If they feel neglected it may be causing them to overcompensate at night.  

Time spent with your pup can include cuddles on the couch in front of the TV or some dedicated playtime – they are usually very easy to please. Investing in some doggy toys and ball games is a great way to bond with your dog baby.  

dog paws on bed

If you feel like the behavior is new and slightly worrying then be sure to get your vet to give your canine a thorough check-up. This way you can eliminate any possible concerns and you will have peace of mind that your fur baby is happy and healthy.  

Once any medical issues are ruled out you will be able to focus on behavioral issues and get to the root issue.

8 Further Possible Reasons that Your Dog Sleeps on You

As a dog owner, you may be skeptical when it comes to your dog snoozing on you. But most dogs are intelligent and emotionally mature when it comes to communicating what they want from their human parents.  

So to put your worries at ease, these are some of the main things your pooch may be telling you when they flop down on your chest to get their eight hours.  

  • Your dog is simply looking for some extra love and attention.
  • Your pooch feels the need to protect you.
  • Your dog is feeling something stressful like boredom, sadness, or fear and is seeking comfort.
  • Your dog thinks you need or enjoy their closeness.
  • Your pup misses their dog mom or litter mates (this is common in smaller puppies).
  • Your dog may suffer from separation anxiety and possibly predicts that you will be leaving soon again.
  • They feel safer on top of you (this goes back to pack behavior too).
  • They have a guilty conscience and are hoping to distract you by perching on top of you.

Your dog may initiate their position on top of you in the hopes that you’ll better interpret their needs. These may include anything from a belly scratch to nighttime play, or even a pre-sleep snack. Any of these may lead to them falling asleep on top of you because let’s face it, you’re comfortable and warm.  

dog being cuddled in bed with man

Your warmth is no small bonus for them. You are the ultimate electric blanket for them to curl up on for the night. Perhaps making their own bed as comfortable as possible is a good place to start.

How to Determine Why Your Pup Sleeps on You

A helpful tip is to take note of when your dog approaches you for sleep time. This will help uncover any associations they may have to the desire of curling up on you. For instance, does it happen before dinner time or before it’s time to go outside?  

It’s also worth looking at your own routines such as what you may be doing at the same time that they usually approach you – or rather, mount you. They may be interpreting your behavior and acting in response to it.  

For example, if they try to curl up on your chest soon after you’ve yelled at them or ordered them to their kennel, they may be apologizing or trying to convince you to let them stay – and stay out of the dog box.  

It’s also a good idea to remain aware of what your neighbors or other household members may be doing at the time. It’s possible that the problem could be related.  

dog asleep on owners lap

Your pooch may interpret your neighbors’ behavior as a threat such as if they come home late or make a lot of noise. Similarly, if your family members play jarring music or have certain habits that upset your hound, then it may very well be the reason for your pup’s sleeping habit.

How to Get Your Pooch to Stop Using you as a Bed

At the end of the day, dogs are intelligent and highly perceptive. They act according to your reactions so if you’ve created the precedent that it’s acceptable to sleep on you sometimes, they have no reason to believe otherwise. They will need a firm hand from an early age in order to teach them correctly.  

Don’t condone chest sleeping sometimes and then get surprised why they try their luck the next time. If your pooch engages in any behavior that you don’t condone, then rewarding them will only negatively reinforce the habit.  

dog asleep on bed

It’s also a good idea to make their own dog bed a space they associate with comfort and with positive things. Forget smacking and yelling, this is ultimately unhelpful. Instead, if you see your pup is going to their own bed at night, then rewarding them with a dog treat while they’re in bed could be a nice way to practice positive reinforcement.  

In general, if they have a happy association with their own bed then they should eventually go there on their own accord.

What if I enjoy having my Pooch Close By at Night?

Lastly, it’s very possible that you enjoy having your pup close by at night. Perhaps it’s just as comforting for you as it is for your fur baby. But, maybe having them parked on your chest is just a little too close for comfort.  

In this case, why not aim to get your hound comfortable at the foot of your bed or on the floor beside you? This will create a sense of nearness without compromising your sleep throughout the night. And, you will likely both view this as a win-win.

dog and man asleep in bed

Final Thoughts on Why My Dog Sleeps on Me

Instead of focussing on why your beloved pooch sleeps on you, rather try to encourage sleeping in their own bed. A great way to do this is to teach them that the best way to get your love and attention is to go to their own bed at night. Make sure you reward good behavior and create a comfortable sleeping environment for them.  

After all, our pooches are highly intelligent and eager to please. They will usually jump at the opportunity to make their favorite human proud and happy.

beagle on human bed

I covered all of the costs associated with writing this post on why does my dog sleep on me. However, it does contain affiliate links. That means if you click through on some of the links in this article and end up making a purchase I may receive a small commission. It won’t affect the price that you pay. Just wanted to let you know.

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