Almost half of all dog owners allow their pups into their beds. We often enjoy cuddling together with our furry friends, and so do they!
Dogs want to sleep with their owners because:
- They want to feel close, secure, and comfortable
- Your bed smells like you
- Your dog is seeking warmth
- They are guarding you
- Their breed is predisposed to clinginess
- Dogs naturally sleep in packs
- Your dog is lonely
- They have separation anxiety
In this article, I’ll discuss all of the reasons dogs want to sleep with their owners. I’ll also offer solutions if you’d like your dog to sleep on their own, and talk about the benefits of allowing your dog into your bed.
1. To be Close to You
Many dogs love to be close to their people. If your dog tends to be clingy, they might want to sleep with you just for that closeness.
Some breeds are clingier than others, such as lap dog breeds. Other dogs, like farming breeds, are more independent.
A Pug is much more likely to want to sleep in your bed than a Great Pyrenees. Pugs were bred for companionship, while Great Pyrenees dogs were bred to be independent, working dogs.
Of course, each dog has their own personality—your Pug may be more independent than most, or your Great Pyrenees more clingy.
2. To Smell your Scent
Dog’s noses are up to 100,000 times more sensitive than the human nose. For them, our beds are full of scent—even when we’ve just washed the sheets!
We spend every single night in our bed, wrapped up under our covers. That’s a lot of time for the bed to begin to smell like us.
If you and your dog have a close relationship, your dog will be comforted by your smell. It will make them feel at home, peaceful, and secure.
Dogs who want to sleep with their owners for this reason and can’t might benefit from a worn t-shirt, hoodie, or used blanket tossed on their own bed.
This way, they can smell your scent and have that comfort without kicking you with their paws in the middle of the night!
3. They have Guarding Instincts
Dogs who have guarding instincts might feel the need to constantly be on guard, protecting their people.
They might choose their favorite person or someone they perceive as vulnerable—such as a child—and choose to guard them at night.
This can be bothersome despite your dog’s good intentions, especially if they wake you up barking or if their territorial behavior goes too far.
However, it can also be very sweet to have your dog huddled at your side.
Dogs with guarding instincts who can’t sleep in your bed might benefit from a dog bed near the bedroom or front door, so that they can still keep watch!
4. To Feel Secure
While some dogs are guard dogs, others are quite insecure and scared—sometimes, a dog is even both!
If your dog has anxiety, especially separation anxiety, they may want to sleep in your bed to feel more secure.
Even dogs without anxiety might feel better being close to you. It’s similar to how dog or wolf packs would sleep together for added protection.
If you think your dog does have anxiety, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for advice. You can also try training methods such as desensitization and counterconditioning.
If the anxiety is bad, there are even medications your veterinarian can prescribe to help your dog calm down and feel secure in themselves.
I’ll talk more about separation anxiety and how it makes dogs want to sleep with their owners in a dedicated section below if you’d like to learn more.
5. For Body Heat
Is it winter in your home, or do you have the air conditioner cranked up while you snuggle under your blankets? Your dog might be seeking warmth!
Your bed is a soft, warm place, and it’s even warmer when you add your body heat to the mix.
Even if it’s not particularly cold, your dog might find comfort in the added warmth as they sleep.
If your dog cannot sleep in your bed, make sure the room is warm enough for them. Consider turning the heat up slightly if possible, providing them with blankets, or purchasing a soft, warm dog bed.
6. Beds are Comfortable!
The reason your dog likes to sleep in your bed might be very simple: it’s comfortable!
Your mattress, your blankets, and even your pillows might be the best place to lie in the house. Think about it—you’ve made your bed comfortable for you to sleep in, so why wouldn’t your dog enjoy the same?
To get your dog off your bed (if you’d like to do so), try providing them with a comfy sleeping spot. This might be a crate with a soft dog bed and blankies, the couch with a soft pillow just for your pup, or a dog bed on the floor of your bedroom.
7. They may have Separation Anxiety
We talked a little bit about separation anxiety above, but let’s get into more detail!
Separation anxiety is when your dog feels very anxious and distressed being alone. This often happens if they weren’t socialized properly as a puppy, which includes being taught that it’s okay to be by themselves.
- Repetitive behaviors like pacing or excessive licking
- Excessive barking, whining, or howling
- Excessive drooling
- Trying to escape confinement (either from a crate, room, or house)
- Destructive chewing or clawing
- Pooping or peeing in the house
If your dog is experiencing separation anxiety, it can be very difficult to overcome. They need to be taught that you’ll always return, and that being alone can be fun and rewarding.
Separation anxiety is hard for the pup and their human families, and affects a lot more than just bedtime routines.
Some things you can do to help a pup suffering from separation anxiety include:
- Desensitization and counterconditioning. Begin leaving your dog for small amounts of time and gradually work your way up to longer periods.
- Occupying them while you’re gone. Provide stimulation for your dog, such as KONG toys filled with treats. This won’t work for dogs who are too anxious to eat while you’re away.
However, it can be paired with desensitization and counterconditioning. For instance, maybe you leave the room briefly while your dog eats or chews a chew toy. Ideally, they barely notice you’re gone!
That’s how to provide great experiences for your dog when they’re alone. The more of these they have, the less afraid they’ll be.
- Exercise. If your dog isn’t getting enough exercise every day, they’re much more prone to separation anxiety. Most dogs need at least one daily walk in addition to playtime, but hyper breeds might need multiple long walks or runs.
If you’re unsure, research your dog’s breed and age. You can also ask your veterinarian for advice.
- Medication. Lastly, your veterinarian can prescribe medication to help your dog’s anxiety. This won’t be a cure-all, but might lower your pup’s stress and make it easier to condition them to being alone.
Simply locking your dog away from you at night might make things worse. It’s best to ease them into a new bedtime routine slowly if you’d like to do so.
Be sure to keep the experience positive, and don’t lock your anxious dog in a crate—they may injure themselves trying to escape.
8. Some Breeds are More Cuddly
Like I discussed above, breed can play a big role in how your dog behaves. Some breeds are clingy and love cuddles, while others are less likely to want to snuggle in your bed.
Personality also plays a role, of course, so not every dog of a certain breed will behave the same.
The cuddliest dogs tend to be lap dog breeds, such as:
- Shih Tzu
That’s just to name a few!
There are also plenty of large dogs who love to cuddle. I’ve known many Pit Bulls who just seem glued to their human’s side and love to sleep in their beds!
If you won’t allow your cuddly dog in your bed, be sure to give them plenty of snuggles during the day instead.
9. Dogs Naturally Sleep in Packs
A pack of dogs would naturally sleep together. This allows them to share body heat, be protected from predators, and cuddle one another!
In your home, you and your family are your dog’s “pack.”
Dogs are very social animals, which is why they love to do so many things with us—including sleeping in our beds.
10. They’re Lonely
Your dog might get lonely at night and crawl into bed with you.
They may also feel lonely during the day when you’re gone, and take advantage of the time you’re home and in one place by cuddling up beside you in bed.
If you won’t allow your lonely dog into bed with you, try giving them a dog bed in your room so that they can sleep close by.
Also ensure you’re spending enough quality time together during the day giving them their daily exercise, grooming, and cuddles.
Even including your dog in basic tasks like household chores goes a long way. Let them follow you around, speak to them, and maybe even teach them how to put away toys or throw out trash!
11. Your Bed is Big, like a Jumbo Dog Bed!
Large dogs in particular might enjoy the large size of your bed. It’s bigger than theirs, so they have plenty of space to stretch out and get comfy.
If your dog prefers your bed to their dog bed and you often see them laying all stretched out, this might be why.
Even little dogs might prefer having more space so that they can choose where to sleep.
If you won’t allow your dog in your bed, another solution is to buy them a larger dog bed—or just train them out of using your bed using positive reinforcement techniques.
Sleeping with your Dog Can be Good for You, Too!
It’s not only dogs who like to sleep in our beds—we often love sleeping with our pups, too.
You might enjoy cuddling with your dog, feel secure with them nearby, or like having them close so that you can monitor them through the night.
Some people even sleep deeper and are more comfortable when their dog is in bed with them.
Of course, these benefits are more for people who like having their dog in bed with them. If you don’t, that’s also perfectly fine!
There’s Nothing Wrong with Letting Your Dog into Bed
Some people worry about whether they should allow their dog into their bed. They may wonder if it makes their dog too dependent on them or too spoiled.
Ultimately, there isn’t anything wrong with allowing your dog to sleep in your bed. It does not create behavioral or health problems for your dog in any way.
Every person and dog is different, so some will enjoy sleeping together while others won’t. Some people or dogs might move more in their sleep or have night terrors that make it dangerous for them to sleep together, for instance.
For most of us, though, it just depends on preference.
Writer: Katelynn Sobus