You can let your puppy fall asleep on you, and it can help you form a closer bond. However, you should never force a puppy to cuddle or sleep, and they should get used to spending short periods alone. If you have other things to do, you can have them sleep in other places such as beside you.
Other good places to sleep are in a dog bed or in their crate.
In this article, I’ll discuss why it’s okay to let your puppy sleep on you, what the benefits are, as well as some potential drawbacks. I’ll also go over some alternative places for your puppy to sleep.
You Can Let Your Puppy Sleep on You
There is no problem with letting your puppy sleep on you! It even has benefits like creating a bond between you and your pup and providing them with comfort in their new home.
Your puppy’s life has been uprooted when you adopted them, whether it was from a shelter, rescue, or a breeder. They’re in a completely new environment with new people, and it can be a bit overwhelming!
Letting them sleep on you can allow them a sense of safety through this.
Of course, though, you don’t want your pup to become overly dependent, and that’s what we’ll discuss in the next section.
Puppies Need Alone Time, Too
While letting your puppy sleep on you is completely fine, you should also give them their space and alone time.
This will set them up for a healthy mindset when they are older and must be left alone while you’re working or running errands.
You can train your pup to be alone by starting small and keeping things positive. For example, encourage them to go off on their own naturally.
Give them something to keep them occupied, like a treat or toy, and leave the room for a few minutes. Don’t make a big fuss, but just be quiet about it!
You might also try this at meal times while they eat.
The less they notice you’re gone, the better. You can then work up to ten, fifteen, twenty minute time periods. Once they can be in a room alone, try leaving the house entirely.
It’s important during this process not to expect too much. Remember that puppies are pretty needy. For example, they can only hold their bladder for a couple of hours at 2 months old, when many adoptions take place.
Leaving them alone longer than this wouldn’t be fair, and you’d have a mess to clean when you returned home!
Consider their Adult Size
One thing to consider if you are consistently letting your puppy sleep on you is their adult size. Some dogs get very big, and you might not want one that’s 100+ pounds sleeping on top of you!
That said, plenty of people (including myself) have big dogs who think they’re little lap dogs. If you are okay with this, don’t worry about it.
But if the cuteness will wear off once your puppy is grown, I suggest weaning them off of this behavior. Maybe gently set them down beside you instead so that they can be close, but not on top of you.
By doing this while they’re still small, they will learn easier than if the rules change later on. It also gives you a chance to move slowly and with patience—which you’ll probably have less of if it’s a grown dog crushing you!
Also think about others in your household, including children and guests. A very social dog may want to plop down in a guest’s lap while they visit, but some people may not appreciate this!
If your puppy isn’t taught boundaries, they can end up hurting someone by not knowing their strength or their size. This is especially important to consider when it comes to children.
Don’t Force a Puppy to Sleep on You
Letting your puppy sleep on you is good, but forcing them to is a big no-no!
If your puppy wants to get up and run around, let them. If they want to go sleep across the room or at your feet, let them.
I know it’s tempting to cuddle your puppy even as they’re trying to wriggle away, because they’re cute and you want time with them!
But this isn’t fair to your puppy. It can also harm your relationship or lead to problems like fearfulness or even aggression.
For example, if your puppy wants down and you aren’t listening, they might get desperate and bite you to let you know they want to be left alone.
Or, they may begin to cower or run away when you try to pick them up because they don’t want to be restrained.
The best thing to do is always to let your puppy come to you for cuddles, and be accepting if they want to do something else instead.
Some pups like to cuddle a lot, and some don’t at all!
Allow your puppy to be themselves and accept them for who they are.
Alternatives to Puppy Sleeping on You
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t always want your puppy falling asleep on you, or if you need to put them down sometimes.
Many people post on social media about feeling “stuck” when a dog or cat is sleeping on them. It’s funny and cute, but there’s also sometimes real guilt attached!
I know that’s true for me when one of my pets decides to nap in my lap while I have things to do.
If you need your puppy to sleep somewhere else, here are some alternatives to consider. (I’ve also included a tip for when your pup doesn’t want to cuddle, but you do!)
1. Dog Beds
Dog beds are a great place for your puppy to go to feel comfy and safe. You can set up areas with dog beds, blankets, and chew toys in the areas of your house where you and your puppy hang out the most.
It’s best if the beds are placed where your puppy spends a lot of time, as this is where they’re more likely to make use of them.
2. Crate Training
An option similar to beds, or that can be used in combination, is crate training. A crate gives your puppy a safe “den” to hang out in. It should serve as their own space where they can have some alone time.
Crate training shouldn’t be completed overnight, and should never be a negative experience for your pup. Don’t let them “cry it out” in the crate or use it as a punishment tool.
Instead, start slowly and use positive reinforcements to get them used to the crate. Toss toys inside during playtime, or feed them their meals there so that they form positive associations.
If you don’t want to lock your puppy inside the crate, you can still use it much like a bed—just as someplace for your puppy to go in and out of willingly.
3. Train them to lay nearby
Sometimes it’s enough to have your puppy at your feet or beside you on the couch. This way, they aren’t causing your legs to fall asleep by laying on them too long!
You can train your puppy to lay nearby by gently pushing them away or setting them down when they climb on top of you. Have patience, and eventually they will give up and lay down where you set them—or even get up and find something else to do.
4. Bonding through Play
One big reason we want to cuddle our puppies is because it helps us feel bonded to them!
If this is what you’re trying to do and your puppy isn’t big on cuddles, a great alternative is to bond through play.
Take them for walks, play a game of fetch, or run around in the back yard.
Simply spending any time together will create more of a bond between you and your puppy. By doing something they can also enjoy, you’re developing an even better relationship with them.
Writer: Katelynn Sobus