Dog owners know how much goes into caring for a furry family member. From buying dog beds, pet food, and toys to getting vaccinations, your dog is a big part of your family. This also means managing sleeping arrangements. However, a comfortable dog bed is not enough for many dogs, and they prefer to sleep next to or near their owners.
Dogs can sleep near their owners for various positive and negative reasons. Learn why your dog prefers to sleep with you and how to manage the behavior.
6 Reasons Dogs Like to Sleep Next to Their Owners
While reasons vary from dog to dog, these six reasons are why most dogs love to sleep near their owners.
- Pack Instinct
It’s well-known that dogs descend from wolves. And while most wolf characteristics were bred out of dogs through domestication, the pack instinct was not. This instinct caused wolves to huddle together with pack members in the wild for warmth and security, ensuring the pack’s survival.
This trait is especially noticeable in domesticated puppies that cuddle for warmth with their litter or parents. The act reinforces their behavior as they grow into adult dogs. Because it’s in their genes, dogs have little control over the habit.
- They Want to Protect You
Your dog’s pack instinct isn’t just about protecting itself. It’s also about protecting you. Your dog sees its family members as part of its pack, so it wants to lie next to you to give you warmth and protection.
Even if there is no real threat, dogs lie as close as possible to those in their pack to be ready for danger.
- They’re Bonding With You
Another reason your dog wants to sleep near you is to further bond with you. It’s in their nature to bond and support those in their pack. By lying close to you, your dog is showing you a sign of affection and looking to further your bond to continue the mutual support you give each other.
- They Want Protection or Warmth
Depending on the dog breed, they may be looking for additional warmth or comfort. Dogs with thin coats, older dogs, or puppies feel cold more than others. Especially during the winter months, they’ll look to cuddle with you to stay warm.
Dogs may also seek comfort if they are feeling vulnerable or ill. If something scared them, recently happened to them, or their environment has changed, a dog may seek additional comfort in the people they feel safe and relaxed near.
If your dog is sick and sleeping with you for comfort, you may also want to manage its symptoms with gently to help restore its health.
- Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety can be a considerable problem that causes dogs to need to be near you compulsively. By sleeping close to you, your dog will be alerted as soon as you leave their vicinity. While it’s normal for dogs to miss their owners, separation anxiety can create behavioral problems.
- They Don’t Like Their Bed
Another possibility is that your dog doesn’t like or feel comfortable in its own dog bed. This might be the case if your dog sleeps near but not in their dog bed, on the couch, or in your bed, even when you’re not in it.
If you suspect your dog doesn’t like its bed, try moving it around the house to see if it’s the location and not just the bed. You can also move their bed near your bed or where they tend to cuddle you. That way, they can be near you to get comfortable, but not directly on top of you.
Are Certain Breeds More Likely to Sleep Next to Owners?
While all dogs can be affectionate, some breeds are more likely to cuddle and insist on sleeping near their owners.
- Labrador Retrievers
- Golden Retrievers
- Great Danes
- English Sheep Dogs
- Pit Bulls
What to Consider When Sleeping with Your Dog
Whether you love your dog sleeping with you or want to redirect the behavior, here is what you should consider.
- Determine Why They’re Sleeping with You
If your dog is sleeping close to you due to anxiety, it is crucial to manage the behavior. Untreated separation anxiety could lead to escape attempts, house destruction or self-injury.
- Keep up With Vaccines and Hygiene
To keep you and your dog safe, ensure everyone is up-to-date on their vaccines, medications, and hygiene routines. If your dog is used to running around outside in the mud, it could bring dirt and germs into your bed that might harm both of you.
- Evaluate if You’re Both Getting Enough Rest
Depending on your sleeping styles, neither of you may be getting good quality sleep while together. With possibly cramped space, tossing and turning, or pointing dog nails, there’s no end to sleep disturbances.
What to Do if You Don’t Want Your Dog Sleeping with You?
While your dog sleeping with you can be cute and comforting. It can also be uncomfortable. Some effective ways to dissuade this behavior include:
- Reward Your Dog for Sleeping Elsewhere
Rewarding your dog for sleeping somewhere else, like their bed, is a better way to change behavior. Each time your dog goes to its bed, reward them with a treat. Once the behavior is learned, you can slowly wean them off the treats.
- Deal with Separation Anxiety
If your dog is dealing with separation anxiety and you continue to let your dog sleep with you, the anxiety will worsen, moving to different behavioral problems. But standard training won’t help to fix anxiety. Only help from a vet or behavioral specialist will help. They may recommend counterconditioning or desensitization training.
- Create a Close Space Nearby
Your dog may sleep with you because their bed is too far away. Find a new, comfortable bed and place it where you typically spend time. This may be enough to make your dog feel secure and comfortable in their new bed.
Learn Your Dog’s Behavior
Whether you love your dog sleeping with you or not, understanding your dog better helps you to support its needs and basic instincts. Make sure to create a safe sleep environment for both of you and address any behavioral concerns you may have.