Why Dogs Touch You When They Sleep (7 Sweet Reasons)

Why Dogs Touch You When They Sleep

The saying, a dog is a man’s best friend couldn’t be truer especially when you have a lovable lump of fur sleeping right next to you. Just like humans, dogs have their own personalities and sleeping habits. So, why do dogs touch you when they sleep? First off, the way your precious pooch sleeps can reveal a lot about him and how he thinks of you. 

When your dog touches you during his sleep or tries to be close, it can be him showing affection, needing warmth, leaving his scent, or reaffirming ownership. When he views you as the alpha, being near you gives him a sense of protection and comfort.

Regardless, the reason for the behavior is not always the same for each pup so there are other factors as well. The following are common reasons why your furball may display this type of behavior. 

Why Dogs Touch You When They Sleep

Why Dogs Touch You When They Sleep 1

07. They Are Pack Animals

Canines are naturally pack animals. In the wild, everything is a team effort and they tend to stay close to one another. When they sleep, they sleep together. In your household, your furry friend views you as the pack leader, and sleeping close to you makes him feel protected and secure. 

If you have more than one dog, you may notice if they aren’t sleeping with you, they most likely sleep near each other. It’s just part of their pack mentality.  

06. For Warmth

Dogs will sometimes snuggle up on you for warmth. If he feels a bit cold, he’ll curl up into a little ball to help regulate body temperature. Sometimes, dogs will also sleep under the covers for added warmth. If it gets too warm, they may opt to sleep on the floor instead.       

05. Reaffirms Ownership

Your dog is claiming ownership of you. You are his special hooman and touching you when he sleeps will only create a stronger bond. However, when he starts to sleep on you, there may be some behavioral issues involved as he views himself as the alpha instead of you. If your dog repeatedly ignores your commands and insists on sleeping on you, it shows the chain of command has broken down and needs to be corrected.       

04. They Are Being Protective   

It’s a dog’s natural instinct to protect the pack. Sleeping is when both humans and dogs are most vulnerable, so by touching you, he can sense your movement. If anything, he will be alerted and ready to be your furry security guard. 

03. Your Scent

One of the ways dogs associate their hoomans is through scent. Your furball uses his adorable and powerful snout to identify you. When he touches you during his sleep, he is trying to be close to you so he can take in your scent. At the same time, he is leaving his scent on you, marking his territory.  

02. Jealousy

Like humans, dogs can be jealous too. Is there someone new in the household, possibly another furry friend? If your pooch started touching you during his sleep after the addition, it could very well be him being jealous. Like the previous reason, he is marking his territory, but should eventually stop once he realizes the new member is not a threat. 

01. Love

The most likely reason is your precious and adorable furball loves you unconditionally. Being able to touch you during his sleep is a very strong signal that the two of you are truly bonded. He trusts you and appreciates everything you’ve done for him.

Should You Allow The Behavior?

Should You Allow The Behavior

As long as he’s not showing signs of aggression and ignoring your commands when you want him to stop, there should be no reason to not allow this behavior. However, it comes down to personal preference whether or not you want to allow it. Some dog breeds are more cuddly to their humans than others. Having physical contact with you will only solidify the already profound connection the two of you share. Let him express his love as he’s trying to show you how much you mean to him. 

If, for whatever reason the behavior bothers you or you just simply don’t like it, there are always ways to rectify the situation. 

How To Stop The Behavior

When trying to correct a behavior, never yell or get physical with your pooch because not only is it not effective, but it will also harm the bond between you two. The last thing you want to do is to lose trust with your dog. You also don’t want to wake up a sleeping dog as it can result in accidentally nipping when startled. Instead, use proper training techniques. 

Below is a helpful video on how you can train your pup to go to his bed instead of sleeping with you to avoid physical contact.

Final Thoughts

When your furry friend touches you when he’s sleeping, consider it a compliment. The gesture likely signals he trusts you and loves you. And, of course, if you suspect there are behavior issues, get it fixed to avoid future problems. If the touching is bothersome, you can always correct it. On the flip side, if it’s the least of your worries and you’re just wondering why, sit back and soak in the love.