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Why Does My Dog Have to Sleep Touching Me?

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You might head to your bedroom after a long, stressful day, and wonder why your dog is sprawled sideways across your bed, sound asleep.

Why do they insist on resting those paws on the same pillow your head lies on every night?

Maybe there couldn’t be anything more comfortable to you than a warm, furry creature huddled close by your side and you take your dog up on that invitation.

However, in some cases our dogs approach us and start laying down and sleeping on us or next to us in the weirdest sleeping positions.

Sometimes, the simple security offered by knowing our dogs are resting safely at our feet is all we need.

But what are the possible reasons behind your dog sleeping while touching you?

Let’s dive in.

Why Your Dog Sleeps So Close to You

First of all, let’s talk about your pet’s desire to sleep in your room. Why would he prefer your bedroom to say, the extra space provided by the living room couch?

Why would he rather have a crowded bed in a smaller bedroom as opposed to a couch in a large living room all to himself?

Dog sleeps on the carpet next to a woman while touching her.

Imagine a pack of wild wolves for a minute, resting comfortably in their cozy little den. It isn’t much more than a hole in the ground, or a small cave.

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This cozy little den offers a convenient escape from unknown dangers that may lurk out in the open.

Not only does it provide consistent, reliable shelter, but it is also enclosed on three sides and easily guarded.

Wolf cubs grew up calling this small den-enclosure home, feeling safe and secure while father, and sometimes mother, would hunt for food.

Wolves, and their ultimately descending dogs, are social animals and prefer the safety and security of social contact.

Your bedroom is a lot like a wolf den, only on a larger scale.

Your dog feels the natural instinct to sleep close to you because he or she feels safe and secure.

What about sleeping on your bed right next to you then? Why does your dog always have to be either touching or very close to you, instead of opting for his own space?

Once again, all you have to do is consider natural wolf behavior in order to understand this desire. 

When they are very young pups, warmth is absolutely vital for survival.

These tiny pups will sleep huddled against both each other and mama all night, waiting until about 8 weeks to even venture outside the den at all.

You are the leader of your pet’s social group and the head of the family. You ensure safety and security or at least provide that feeling.

You also give off body heat, and your bed is both soft and comfortable.

You may even have a pup who likes to burrow under your covers.

Why Does My Dog Sleep on Me and Not My Husband?

Sometimes, dogs choose one person over another due to familiarity and comfortability.

Is it possible that you spend more time around your dog while your husband is, for example, away at work?

Have you known your dog longer, and do you spend more time playing/training (with subsequent rewards) during the day?

Any dog enthusiast knows dogs have a very good sense of smell, but not everyone knows how extreme this sense really is.

Your dog is able to discern individual components of the perfume you might be wearing, as well as several chemicals the glands all over our bodies secrete.

Your dog might prefer you to your husband, or vice versa, based upon your scent.

Dogs can read our body language extremely well, often better than we do ourselves.

This is a natural method of communication for them and doesn’t require much thought on their part. 

What is different about your body language? Emotional cues might as well be spoken words to them.

Why Does My Dog Sleep At My Feet?

One theory involves protection.

Wild wolves needed to be on guard at all times, so why wouldn’t dogs inherit this instinct?

A placement at your feet provides a strong strategic defense or at least affords the ability to notice any potential danger easily.

When we hug our pets or sleep with our arms draped over them, they might feel as if they’ve lost their defensive ability to flee or retreat.

Even though there might not be any kind of rational danger, some dogs instinctively don’t like to feel confined while others happily go into their crate.

Your dog might look for a cooler spot to sleep, which isn’t necessarily right next to your torso/core. Sleeping at your feet still affords protection.

Dog sleeps next to the owner on the floor while being covered by a blanket.

Some claim older puppies will naturally sleep either at their mother’s tail or to the side in an effort to avoid being rolled on.

Many humans, especially children, want to sleep cuddled with their arms draped over their furry pet.

While younger dogs or puppies seem to prefer this, it tends to make adult dogs uncomfortable more often than not. 

Unless trained otherwise, most dogs naturally want to avoid direct eye contact which often means keeping a healthy distance from our human faces.

Your dog might lick your face and even tolerate an owner’s kisses, but this has a different meaning for our pets.

To understand why simply look again back at nature. Many animals, especially larger predatory animals, will use their mouths as weapons.

6 Dog Sleeping Positions With Their Owner

How exactly does your dog sleep with you? Can you count all of the different positions you’ve seen your dog sleeping in?

To our pets, dog sleeping positions often mean more than simple comfort. Have you ever wondered what your pet may be gaining out of a certain sleeping position?

Cuddled Inbetween Legs

This can mean two separate things.

First, your dog feels comfortable, secure, and safe huddled next to you and the body warmth you provide.

Second, this position with the back most exposed helps hide those vulnerable areas to injury and also provides warmth while allowing your dog to cover his nose with his bushy tail (one reason northern breeds do this).

On Back, Paws in the Air

Your dog is probably seeking a cooler position to sleep. In many breeds, the belly isn’t covered with the same amount of fur.

Dog sleeps on his back with the paws in the air while being on the owner's belly.

This is a very vulnerable position for dogs, so your pet would have to be very comfortable.

In the wild, many predators will attack their opponent’s neck, and it is difficult to defend from that position.

My female Rottweiler (who loves cuddling) rarely shows her belly, but is totally comfortable with it when sleeping.

That being said, she’s never on her back when she’s sleeping on me.

Under the Blanket

Your pet might just simply be feeling cold, and it is more comfortable underneath the blanket.

If your pet feels secure enough in your home to dispense with any caution, there is no reason to be on guard.

Most dogs aren’t actually thinking ‘I need to protect this room at night’, but rather feeling the instinctive urge.

Depending on how you’ve raised your dog, he or she might feel you’ve adopted the role of protector and there is no reason for him/her to.

You are allowed to sleep underneath the blanket. Maybe this is a position of value, and sleeping underneath it is almost like a privilege.

On Your Neck/Face

This is much more common in younger puppies. We can theorize that because young pups haven’t yet developed any kind of fear response or caution, they have no reason to fear your teeth.

On a side note, this is an ideal time to begin socialization training for that reason. 

This is a strange new environment, and your puppy also simply wants to be close to you. Puppies aren’t large enough to take on a protective role.

On your Pillow

Upon returning to your bedroom, do you constantly find your dog on your pillow? He must know you are going to make him move, so why do this at all?

Consider the obvious comfort that a pillow provides, compared to a mattress. It would be like a fluff of air the size of your dog’s body.

Your pillow carries your scent. You might leave tiny skin cells on it every night, and the scent, in general, may offer comfort.

I actually have an article dedicated to why your dog loves sleeping on your pillow.

Studies exist that do show the pleasure center of a dog’s brain is stimulated by these scents. Our dogs will often want to stay as close to these scents as possible.

Rationalizing dog behavior based on decisions a human might make is often a mistake since dogs often don’t use the reasoning we do.

That being said, sleeping at the head of your bed might seem like the most valuable spot because you are the leader of this family and that is your spot.

Sprawled Across the Bed

Your dog doesn’t exactly understand the concept of space (when it comes to stuff like this), and simply decide to go for comfort.

Sprawling out flat offers your pup a chance to cool down, or at least not overheat.

Let me know how your dog likes to sleep. Our furry companions can assume the stranger sleeping positions, that’s for sure.

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About Danielle
I am the founder of PawLeaks where I share weekly tips on dog training and behavior. Sharing a passion for dogs and helping owners to solve problems through understanding canine behavior and modification is my number one goal.