When your beloved St. Bernard was a puppy, he was a sweet, tiny little furball, and you absolutely loved snuggling up with him to sleep at night. Now, he’s all grown up, and he is BIG. And the situation has you questioning why your dog always wants to sleep with you, and even, perhaps, considering a sort of compromise between dog and human. But, before that can happen you have to get to the source of the behavior. Why does he insist on sleeping with you? So, why do dogs like sleeping with humans?
Your dog likes to sleep with you because he absolutely loves you, and it makes him feel safe knowing you are by his side. He is able to sense your scent which keeps him comfortable. Sleeping with you also provides extra warmth which helps regulate his body temperature.
Whether your dog has ‘outgrown’ the current co-sleeping arrangement, certain circumstances have changed, or maybe you just want to know the doggy psychology behind his need to spoon with you at bedtime. It’s a good question, but one that, unfortunately, does not come with a simple answer. The following 13 reasons why your dog wants to sleep with you will hopefully help you explore his canine logic.
Why Dogs Like Sleeping With Humans
13. Dogs Are Pack Animals
Canines are ‘pack’ animals, it is hardwired in their DNA. The pack is never apart, everything is a team effort. They are not solitary creatures by nature and in your household, you are the leader of their pack. In the wild, dogs have to sleep together for a number of reasons, including for safety and warmth.
12. It Helps Them Feel Safe
Although wild dogs may have had to be prepared to deal with predators, harsh elements, and extreme weather, this is not so for our modern house pups, they are quite pampered. And, sometimes, our sweet spoiled pooches just need to feel safe, and sleeping with their favorite hooman (that’d be you) helps them feel safe, comforted, and protected.
11. They Are Protective
On the flip side, a dog’s most natural instinct is to protect the pack, of which, as stated earlier, you are the leader. While we (animals and humans alike) are asleep, we are at our most vulnerable and most in need of safety in numbers, so to speak. Which makes it perfectly normal and natural for your pup to want to sleep by your side, ya know, just in case. After all, the lazy, fat house cat always looks like he’s up to no good…
Dogs are nothing if not extremely loyal, this is especially true when it comes to their human family. They feel it is their duty to protect you, to care for you, and to show you unconditional love until the end of their days. Sleeping with you cements this unwavering loyalty.
Is this a new thing? Have you brought someone new into the household, possibly a new pet? This could simply be a jealousy and territorial situation. He is staking his claim on ‘his’ human by sharing your bed. Once he realizes the newest family member is not a threat, he will likely revert back to snoozing in his normal sleeping spot.
08. For Added Warmth
Sleeping with you could be due to their basic need for warmth. No, he is not actually super cold but seeks your warmth as a hardwired survival mechanism. This could also stem from being separated from his birth mother too soon. Introducing a sleeping companion (stuffed animal or new sibling) might help him transition into his designated bed.
07. They Sense Something
Whether it be not feeling like yourself or dealing with some added stress, our four-legged friends seem to sense when something isn’t quite right. Dogs are sometimes uncannily intuitive. While they might not know the specific problem, they do usually somehow know when they are needed.
When their human is not feeling well, you can guarantee that Fido is going to be right by their side, including at bedtime. Canines have somewhat of a nurturing quality. Just one of the many reasons dogs are ‘man’s best friend’. Alternatively, when your pooch is feeling under the weather, by your side is where he is going to be. No matter the day or night time.
05. Change In The Environment (Or Routine)
Dogs tend to be creatures of habit and they thrive with set routines in stable environments. When something is switched up or changed, it can leave your dog feeling confused and insecure. Confusion often escalates to being fearful and/or uneasy. This can make them seek comfort, even if it is late at night, and they’re in bed. Until the routine or normalcy has been restored, the sleepover will continue so scoot on over.
04. History, Background, Past Experiences
Much like humans, past experiences such as neglect or a history of abuse can cause your pooch to become overly sensitive and extremely attached to you. His unsureness and self-doubt can make him feel the need to be at your side at all times, particularly when he is at his most vulnerable, which is while he is asleep.
03. Storm Phobia
Even some of the bravest pups are absolutely terrified of thunderstorms, with an emphasis on the thunder. It is a real phobia and can make your dog feel uneasy, anxious, and fearful, which can cause him to feel the need to be next to you. Pets with storm or thunder phobia are incredibly difficult to keep calm. Bar a prescription medication, he will need to ride it out, right by your side, even in bed.
02. Getting Older
It will happen to the best of us. No one can stop the hands (paws?) of time. All living beings get older and Fido is no exception. As they age, their sleeping patterns could change. The place, and position that they used to catch their Z’s, is no longer as comfortable as it once was. In this particular instance, you should contact your veterinarian and inquire about what medications and/or treatments are available to make him more comfortable, as well as ruling out any medical issues.
01. They LOVE You
Now, forget all the rest of the reasons. The most likely explanation of why your dog always wants to sleep with you? He pawsitively adores you. He enjoys being close to you and is happiest when you’re near.
Not Down For The Dogpile? How To Rectify The Situation
Not everyone is down for sleeping with the dogs, and hey, that’s okay, no judgment here.
There are plenty of reasons why it is not feasible for your dog to sleep in the bed with you, such as allergies, or lack of space. Luckily, with the right technique, enough dedication, and lots of patience, any dog can be fully trained to do just about anything.
It might take some work, especially if he’s been allowed to sleep with you previously, but your pooch can be taught to sleep in his own designated area. Using treats and positive reinforcement, reward your dog any time he shows interest in the area you want him to sleep in (dog bed, rug).
It is going to take time and you will likely wake up more than once with a furry intruder snoring loudly beside you. Stick with it and keep it positive. Punishment will only hinder the training process.
Common Questions About Your Dogs Sleeping Patterns
The Cuddle Factor – How Do Dogs Choose Who To Cuddle With
Although it may feel like a popularity contest, it really isn’t. Preference varies greatly from dog to dog. Some have the same bond with all members of the family, while others have their one ‘special’ hooman. Many times, if yours is a one-person dog, the one he bonds will generally be the same person that does the feeding, walking, etc. Different factors can also change this preference such as illness or injury. Your dog would likely sleep with the family member that caters to his needs the most.
Turning His Snout Up – Why Is He Refusing To Sleep On His Doggy Bed?
After spending time and money searching for the perfect doggy bed, it can be incredibly frustrating when he chooses to sleep elsewhere. The reason he is not sleeping in his new bed could have to do with comfort, taste, or downright stubbornness. Placing something with your scent on it (t-shirt, blanket) or even laying in it with him for a short period might do the trick.
Doing The Jerk – Why Does My Dog Keep Twitching And Jerking In His Sleep?
Many dogs experience muscle spasms when they are in a deep sleep, this is even sometimes accompanied by a whimper, growl, or barking. The good news is that this is not harmful to him in any way, as alarming or annoying as it may be to you, but, unfortunately, there really is no ‘cure’. You could wake him, try to soothe him with a few pets, or have a giggle at how silly he looks chasing imaginary rabbits.
Deemed Unworthy – Why Doesn’t My Dog Want To Sleep With Me Anymore?
If your dog has suddenly stopped sleeping with you, don’t take it to heart, it likely has nothing to do with you personally. A sudden change in sleeping habits could be due to several different factors, including a simple change in preference, but it is typically not serious. However, if he is also not acting right (lethargy, mood/behavioral changes), besides not wanting to sleep with you, it might be time for a visit to the veterinary office.
If having a lovable lump of fur curled up next to you every night is the worst of your problems, then you’ve got it easy. Though, if it has become a problem, there is no reason to fret.
The habit can be broken and it can be done with no long-lasting emotional trauma inflicted on you or your furry friend. Just remember to use positive reinforcement as opposed to discipline when he relapses (and he will).
There is a reason that our canine companions are referred to as ‘man’s best friend’. It is truly a bond like no other, with affection being the only way for them to show exactly how much we mean to them.
Sleeping with their hoomans is an extension of that loving instinct. Once you have pinpointed the motivation, you can train him to not sleep with you, but why would you want to?
Seriously, dogs make THE BEST cuddle buddies. Sweet dreams.
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