Why Does My Dog Sleep With Me?
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Does your dog always sleep next to you or in the same room? There are many reasons why dogs choose to sleep beside or close to their guardians. The reasons for this are strongly based on the type of relationship you have with your dog. For example, a dog will most often sleep with the family member they most strongly relate to. If you are this person, consider yourself lucky!
If you want to know why your dog sleeps with you, keep reading this AnimalWised article. We will be listing the 6 reasons why your dog likes to sleep with you, in addition to mentioning whether this is a good or bad habit.
Why does my dog like to sleep with me?
There are many reasons that can explain why does my dog sleep so close to me in the same room or even in your bed. Some dogs will even sleep at our feet or on top of our pillow. The reasons dogs sleep beside us are due to the concept of attachment. This concept revolves around the perception dogs have of their guardians being their main point of reference. This is a phenomenon considered exclusive to humans and animals that become domesticated.
A study was carried out on dogs using the Ainsworth ‘strange situation’ test, a test otherwise used to determine attachment in children. This study showed that domestic dogs have an attachment to their human guardians which is similar to mother-infant interactions, although this varies according to the individual.
Although a healthy dog will develop healthy attachment with their guardian, not all types of attachment are beneficial. Only secure dogs will develop healthy attachments, while insecure dogs can become overly dependent. The latter can develop into problems such as separation anxiety in dogs.
Below, we look at the main reasons a dog sleeps with you to show you the difference between secure and insecure attachment in dogs.
1. Dogs are social animals
The first thing you must understand about why your dog sleeps with you is that dogs are social pack animals. In the wild, dogs stay together in groups, including while they sleep. Dogs are not solitary animals and their desire to sleep beside their owners is instinctual.
In fact, if you live with more than one dog and the relationship between them is good, you've probably noticed that they never sleep alone. The majority either sleep with their humans or sleep together in the same bed. If they don't sleep close to you, they probably sleep close to each other or at least in the same room.
2. They want to protect you
As already mentioned, dogs are pack animals. This means they instinctively watch over their own and protect one another. In the wild, dogs are the most exposed and vulnerable when they are asleep, especially deep sleep. Many dogs prefer to sleep near or with their humans to protect them in case something happens. Again, this is part of the innate natural instinct of the canine species, but which has been intensified thanks to domestication.
3. It helps them feel safe
If your dog always sleeps with you it means that they feel secure and confident in your presence. Being their reference figure, they feel that they can trust you and feel safe. Healthy dogs will follow their guardians and sleep beside them in certain circumstances where they feel insecure. A common example is when there are fireworks and they fear the unknown loud noises.
When a dog has insecure attachment to their guardians, they may sleep beside them all the time. This is because even normal stimuli can make them feel scared. In these cases, we need to find ways to help the dog feel calm and trust that nothing will happen even when their guardian isn't present. This commonly occurs in dogs with histories of abuse.
Find out more with our article on how to help an abused dog feel calm.
4. They are looking for warmth and comfort
Comfort is very important for dogs. Due to having different types of coats, some dogs will feel the cold more than others. During the winter months or if there is otherwise a cold spell, dogs will seek out the body heat of their guardians. It is a similar reason why dogs like the sun, since they will often search out a shaft of light in which they can lay down and feel warm.
Some dogs may feel the cold more than others. This includes hairless dog breeds which lack the protection of a thick coat, but small dogs and others may also feel the chill more easily. For this reason, it is common for these dogs to seek out their guardian and sleep beside them.
5. Your dog doesn’t like their bed
Have you checked if your dog’s bed to know if it is comfortable? Another reason why your dog may sleep with you is because they don’t like or feel comfortable in their own bed. If this is the case, it is likely that they will try find anywhere else to sleep, like your bed or the sofa.
If you believe that this is the reason your dog sleeps with you, consider providing another bed and placing it next to yours with a blanket. For more information, take a look at the article on how to teach your dog to sleep in its own bed, specifically if you want them to stop sleeping in yours.
6. Your dog is showing you love
Simply put, if your dog is sleeping with you it means they love you. They love the warmth that you transmit, they feel safe with you, they want to protect you and transmit affection to you. Sleeping together is one of the greatest demonstrations of love and, in addition, can help to strengthen the bond between you and your animal.
Is it bad to sleep with my dog?
Sleeping in the same bed as your dog is not necessarily a bad habit, as long as consideration and hygiene are taken into account. For example, if your dog is dirty, they will carry dirt and germs into your clean bed which can cause illness. In addition, we suggest brushing your dog’s hair appropriately so that they do not shed dead hair onto your bed.
It is also important you do not neglect preventive medicine. Remember there are parasites which dogs can transmit to humans, such as fleas and ticks. Therefore, make sure to deworm and vaccinate your dog according to your veterinarian’s recommended schedule.
Regardless of hygiene, you must consider whether actually sleeping together provides adequate rest for both you and your animal. If you find that by sleeping with your dog you don’t receive sufficient rest, opt for placing their bed close to yours. By doing this, you are still within distance, but you both have your required individual space.
If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, sleeping together is not recommended. By sleeping with your dog you reinforce this negative behavior. If your dog suffers from any behavioral problem, we recommend consulting an ethologist or a canine educator in order to treat the problem accordingly.
If you want to read similar articles to Why Does My Dog Sleep With Me?, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.
- Topál, J., Miklósi, Á., Csányi, V., & Dóka, A. (1998). Attachment behavior in dogs (Canis familiaris): A new application of Ainsworth's (1969) Strange Situation Test. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 112(3), 219-229.
- Miklosi, Á. Dog behaviour, evolution, and cognition. Second edition.