Dogs sleep against you, because just as when they slept against their littermates as puppies, they see you as part of their pack. It is often a sign of affection. They feel comfortable and secure when they sleep against you, and it allows them to feel as though they are protecting you as well.
If you have ever owned a dog, you have likely experienced your dog trying to sleep with you. You might wonder why a dog would want to do this. There are a few different reasons for this behavior.
Generally, dogs are pack animals; out in the wild, they will sleep together at night for security and to keep each other warm.
Their Instinct to Huddle with Members of the Pack
If you have spent time around litters of puppies, you have probably seen them huddle together.
Basically, it is their natural inclination to sleep in large piles, snuggled up with their littermates. This allows them to feel comfortable and secure.
Even when dogs grow up, they often want to feel that same coziness and warmth with you in your bed.
Another reason your dog might want to sleep next to you or cuddled up against you is a feeling of closeness and affection. Your dog sees you as a member of their pack and enjoys your company.
When they sleep right next to you, it shows their trust and loyalty towards you, as well as their desire to protect you.
By cuddling up next to you in bed, your dog is also telling you that being with you feels very safe.
In addition to the above reasons, dogs feel the need to protect their pack. This can be particularly strong in the case of families with new children.
A lot of the time, a dog will be very protective of young children and babies. In these situations, when a dog sleeps in your bed with you, the dog will also be on guard duty.
To your dog, you are not a member of a different species. You are simply a member of their pack, even if you have two legs instead of four.
There Are Some Cases Where a Dog Doesn’t Want to Sleep in Your Bed
Not every dog likes to sleep in a bed with their human. However, if this is the case with your dog, it probably just means that your bed is not very comfortable for the dog.
You should not assume that this means your dog does not see you as the pack leader or love you.
There are actually some dog breeds who are known to be more affectionate than others, meaning they are probably going to be more likely to snuggle up against you in bed.
Some of these include the Collie, the Golden Retriever, the Labrador Retriever, the Bichon Frise, the English Bulldog, and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
Dogs’ Sleep Habits Are Different Than Those of Humans
It is good to take note of the fact that dogs do not generally adopt the same sleep habits as do humans. Most of the time, for example, dogs sleep quite a bit more than humans will. The average dog needs about 12 to 14 hours of sleep every day.
Puppies actually need 18 to 19 hours of sleep daily, typically waking up for about an hour after every few hours of sleep that they get. Big dogs will also have a tendency to take longer naps than their smaller counterparts.
It is important that you keep track of your dog’s regular sleeping habits. If you notice any significant changes, it could actually indicate a health problem. In some cases, if you see that your dog is suddenly spending too much time taking naps, you might want to take them to the vet.
Typical Sleep Behaviors in Dogs
Certain sleeping behaviors are typical in dogs, and sometimes, you can figure out some things about the quality of the sleep they are getting from the behavior that you observe.
Just as in humans, sleep is important in dogs for repairing and healing the body. REM sleep, in particular, provides a lot of restoration for the dog.
It would be a good idea for you to pay attention to certain sleep behaviors in your dog, to make sure that your dog is getting the best sleep possible.
Circling and Digging
Before dogs lie down for sleep, it is very common for them to circle their sleeping area a little bit or even do a little bit of digging.
The root of this is the wolf ancestors of the dog, who would make it a habit of trampling down leaves, grass, and snow, to get comfortable in their sleeping spot.
In some cases, they would also dig holes that would help keep them at the optimal temperatures during very hot or very cold weather.
However, if a dog does too much circling before lying down or has trouble settling into the sleeping spot, this could be a sign of a neurological issue, arthritis, or some other type of pain. If you notice this happening, you should take your dog to the vet.
If your dog is bored during the day, they might doze off. Generally, this is not going to be an extremely restful sleep, and your dog may simply be doing this out of boredom.
In some cases, you will see your dog’s ears perk up or hear them make unusual noises. Most of the time, this means that your dog is still somewhat alert and looking for something worth getting up and paying attention to.
If you see this happen, it might be a good idea to do some activity with your dog, such as going for a walk or playing fetch.
Wagging, Twitching, or Soft Noises
During REM sleep, dogs get a very nice and deep sleep. Sometimes, they will tend to move around a little bit during this time. In some cases, this means that they are acting out their dreams.
During this stage of sleep, it is common for them to wag their tails, twitch, kick their legs, and even grunt or bark a little bit.
You should not wake your dog up during this stage of sleep, as REM sleep is extremely good for their health and plays a big role in restoration.
Senior dogs and puppies are more likely to move while sleeping, and there is no clear explanation why this is the case.
However, it is also important to remember that if a dog is twitching during sleep, this might not actually be typical of REM sleep -it may simply mean that your dog is cold and trying to warm up.
If this is the case, you should get the dog a blanket or allow them to move to a warmer place to sleep.
Signs of Distress
It is possible for a dog to have nightmares come on just as humans can. Even though some movement is normal during a dog’s sleep, if your dog seems particularly agitated while sleeping, meaning they are moving, whimpering, or barking more than usual, you can try gently waking them up and calming them down.
Stroking their back or side or saying their name softly and soothingly can be helpful.
Sometimes, if you do this, your dog will wake up.
In other cases, they may just relax and sleep more restfully with more pleasant dreams after you have given them your comfort.
If you notice that your dog often seems agitated while they are sleeping, you might want to take them to the vet, just because it is better to be safe than sorry.
Even though some twitching might be normal during sleep, if it is excessive, it could be the sign of a seizure. If your dog is having a seizure, it is important to get them immediate medical attention.
If you observe these abnormal movements, what you should do is try to call your dog’s name and wake them up.
If they wake up, it might have just been a very intense dream. However, if they do not respond to your calling their name, continue to shake, or they start to feel stiff, you should get medical attention for your dog immediately.
It is always a good idea to pay attention to your dog’s normal sleeping habits, so that you can tell when something is out of the ordinary and can take the appropriate action.
Letting Sleeping Dogs Lie…
Most of the time, if your dog is sleeping closely up against you, this is simply a reflection of instincts that have been passed down by wolf ancestors. They feel more of a sense of comfort and security when they are snuggled up against you, as they see you as part of their pack.
Another reason why they are doing this is out of affection for you. They also feel as though they are protecting you by sleeping against you in this way.
You should also respect your dog’s boundaries if they do not want to sleep in your bed, as not all dogs enjoy doing this. It does not necessarily mean anything negative if your dog does not want to sleep in your bed. If you suspect that something may be wrong, of course, you should get your dog veterinary attention.
It is also a good idea to make sure that you are paying attention to your dog’s normal sleeping habits, so that you can tell if anything may be wrong by some change in behavior.