Some dog owners refuse to let their dogs in their bedrooms because they take over the bed and sleep all over you. This can cause injuries, aggression, and disturbances to your sleep.
But others believe it is a comforting position that strengthens your relationship with one another.
Find out why your dog sleeps on you, what their sleeping positions mean, and learn how to stop this behavior. If you like your dog sleeping this way, we have tips on how to make them feel cozier.
Wild Dog Packs and Their Instincts
Our dogs’ ancestors enjoyed the company of other dogs, animals, and even humans. As social creatures, dogs become sad and stressed when they are left alone.
Dogs and wolves live in packs with a leader to whom everyone submits themselves. This is one factor to consider when understanding the cause of your dog’s behaviors.
When it comes to sleeping on top of you, it can be because our dogs continue to practice their love for company the way their wolf ancestors did.
It can also be their way of asserting dominance or leaving their scent.
Dogs love brushing up against things, people, or other animals so when another animal arrives, they will be cautious of invading their territory.
If there are other dogs in the house, they will sleep on top of you to assert dominance over other pets.
These deep instincts stay with our furry friends even after they became domesticated and treated as family members in the house.
How to Find Out Why Your Dog is Sleeping on You
To understand the cause of your dog’s behavior, ask yourself the following questions.
When Does Your Dog Sleep on You?
Your dog might be sleeping on top of you more frequently at some times than others. So, check what is different about the timing.
For instance, if your furry pal lays on top of you more at around the time you usually take them on a walk, then they are probably seeking your attention and begging you to go out already.
Your dog might also lay on top of you when it’s lunchtime to tell you that they are hungry.
If your dog is scared of the dark, you’ll notice them laying on top of you after turning the lights off.
Take note of the times and associated behaviors to look for a pattern.
Is This Behavior New?
Is this a recent development in your dog’s behavior or have they been doing it since you first brought them home?
If it is new, what else was happening around the time they first started sleeping on top of you?
This is an important question to answer especially if they were not always like this. It can help you determine the why so you can fix the behavior.
For instance, dogs show signs of separation anxiety once you start leaving them for longer periods and giving them less attention.
Your dog may also need to become more familiar with their new environment if the behavior first occurred when you moved into a new place.
Changes in routine may also encourage them to lay on top of you. For example, this new behavior could be their way of asking to go out because they are used to peeing at this time.
Once you know more about your dog’s behavior you can begin to find out what it means when your dog sleeps on you.
Why Does Your Dog Always Sleep on Top of You?
Now that you have some clues on their behavior, here are some possible reasons why your dog is sleeping on you all the time.
A lot of dogs experience separation anxiety, especially rescue dogs who were traumatized by the negligence of previous owners.
Clingy dog breeds are also more prone to separation anxiety because they can’t stand being without you.
Dogs who sleep on top of you due to separation anxiety will try stopping you from standing up and leaving. They also are on alert every time you move.
Sometimes, even though you’re giving your dog enough attention and love, they just can’t be left alone.
They will most likely try to lay on top of you when they see you are getting ready to leave the house.
It’s also likely that your dog is seeking attention. They do this in many ways, like barking at you, sitting on your lap, or laying on top of you.
They spend time trying to get your attention while you’re in bed by using their weight on you. But they get tired then start falling asleep on top of you.
Some even lay on top of your head to get some love.
This behavior is common among large dog breeds who are too big to sleep in your lap. They try to get comfort from you by laying on you instead.
Sometimes, this behavior is acceptable. But laying on you all the time can become annoying or distracting to your sleep.
We mentioned that the instincts of wild dogs continue to be passed down to our dogs. Because they are pack animals, they stay close to one another for security.
They protect each other and make sure everyone is safe. Sleeping on you is also a sign that they are protecting you because it is an intuitive behavior.
But remember that they also want protection from you. Pack animals look out for one another, so you also need to make sure they feel protected when they sleep on top of you.
The Behavior is Reinforced
Lastly, your dog might be sleeping on top of you because they are already used to this behavior, and you never did anything about it.
While this does not mean that they are a hopeless case, training them to curb this behavior can be tricky.
Giving them belly rubs, cuddling with them, and even offering them treats while they were laying on top of you may have reinforced the behavior, so they do it all the time now.
What Dog Sleeping Positions Mean
Our dogs’ sleeping position also tells a lot about why they love dozing off close to us. Here are some dog sleeping positions and what they mean.
Laying on Their Side
If your dog lays on you with one side of their back, it means they feel secure and comfortable near you.
They don’t mind exposing their vital organs in front because they feel relaxed that you are there by their side.
Dogs who love sleeping like this are easy-going and relaxed. They also have twitching tendencies because their limbs are free to move.
Laying on Their Back
Dogs love to expose their belly with their paws up because it helps them cool off. One scientific reason behind this is the sweat glands are located on their paws.
They try to put out their paws to stay cool. It also means that they feel comfy because their vital organs are out in the open.
Carefree dogs love to sleep like this because they don’t care if their sensitive areas are exposed. Or they just have enough trust in you to stay vulnerable.
Dogs also curl up in a ball when they sleep too. This happens when they lay nose-to-tail. This is their way of protecting themselves ever since their ancestors lived in the wild.
This kind of position lets them restrict themselves during sleep, so they twitch less.
It does not mean that your dog feels unsafe when they sleep like this on top of you. It’s a common position during cold nights when the season is cool.
Sometimes, it’s just their preferred sleeping position.
Laying on Their Tummy
Dogs do the superman position to pop up their paws. They do this because they want to take a rest but also want to stay alert when something comes up.
When your dog puts their paws out, they are preparing themselves to jump up when necessary.
So be careful when they sleep like this on top of you. They might injure you when they suddenly act.
This is the most common position among high-energy dogs.
Find out more about your dog’s sleep position here.
How to Stop Your Dog from Sleeping on Top of You
If you don’t like it when your dog sleeps on top of you, here are some simple yet effective tips to stop them.
Train your dog to lay in a different spot of the house and encourage them with rewards.
Let your dog come to you when they are called then reward them with treats. Keep repeating the process until they feel happy in their new spot even without the rewards.
Ignore Bad Behavior
Maybe your behavior is what’s encouraging them to stay on top of you when sleeping.
Instead of cuddling them or giving them belly rubs when they lay on top of you, ignore them until they get tired of asking for your attention.
Make Their Spot Cozy
Another way to encourage your dog to stop laying on you is by giving them a spot they consider their own.
Put all their toys, treats, bedding, and other things in that area so they feel happier and more comfortable staying there.
Treat Separation Anxiety
If your dog is showing signs of separation anxiety, address the root cause with morning walks, access to the outdoors, and anxiety-relieving toys like Moropaky Heartbeat Toy.
This toy has a heartbeat which is a simulation which is a simulation of a true heartbeat to help them reduce anxiety.
This will help them feel less alone because they have a “friend” that’s with them.
If all else fails, don’t hesitate to call your vet.
How to Encourage Your Dog to Sleep on Top of You
If you like the feeling of your dog sleeping on you, then the best way to encourage the behavior is to give them plenty of praise and attention when they do it.
Make sure your dog doesn’t get aggressive while they are sleeping or being awakened to avoid accidents and injuries.
Sleeping beside your dog in bed helps increase your bond as both of you provide warmth and comfort to one another.
As mentioned, keep it mutual. If they are laying on top of you to protect you, you must also let them know that you are protecting them.
On the other hand, if your dog hates sleeping next to or on top of you, you can train them to come when called through positive reinforcement.
But don’t take it personally if your dog doesn’t stay in bed with you. They probably dislike the texture or temperature of the area. Or they just prefer their own bed for sleeping.
FAQ Dog Sleeping Behaviors
Is a Dog Sleeping in Bed a Sign of Dominance?
As mentioned, dogs may lay on top of you to assert dominance. Not over you but over other animals.
They want their scent to stay on you so that other dogs will know and know their limits.
This behavior can lead to your dog fighting, so learn how to stop dog aggression as soon as possible.
Is it Okay for Your Dog to Sleep with You in Bed?
If your dog is house-trained, then it’s fine to let them sleep in your bed. You are assured that no accidents will happen.
It’s also okay if your dog does not have behavioral issues and if they are not light sleepers.
There are a lot of benefits to your dog sharing your bed with your dog. It’s comforting and it makes you feel safe.
We have some tips on how to share your bed with your dog.
Should I Let My Puppy Sleep Outside?
It depends on their age.
Sometimes, the way your dog sleeps on top of you makes you want to train them to sleep outside.
But how early is too early? Some factors to consider on whether they’re ready to include body temperature, their susceptibility to disease, socialization, and more.
For instance, puppies cannot regulate their body temperature yet, so it’s not ideal to let them stay outside, where it rains one minute then shines the next.
A Good Night’s Sleep for All.
If you think your dog’s habit of sleeping on top of you is harmless, then feel free to encourage the behavior.
If it has become a disturbance, try to make your dog sleep in their own comfy space. You also want to investigate why they do this to get to the root cause.
You can build a doghouse for them and make it look like a mini home sweet home.
Check out what to put in a doghouse for bedding so your dog will enjoy their stay outside.