Why Your Dog Lays Their Head on You While Sleeping

We are blessed to share a unique bond with our dogs that words are not needed to explain. Dogs communicate with their body language, actions, and facial expressions.

If your dog lays their head on you while they sleep here is what it means. 

  • They are guarding and protecting you while they sleep.
  • Your dog feels secure and is demonstrating their love and trust.
  • You are part of their pack, so they are bonded to your every move.
  • You are nice and warm to snuggle. 

They are pack animals, so they like living with other dogs or humans.

They form strong social bonds with certain humans that they like to hang out with,  whether they are awake or sleeping.

A puppy is famous for snuggling in a puddle of sibling puppies! This is how they keep warm and protected. When mum is away, the puppies get a lot of comfort from being together.

When they are weaned, and you bring them to your home, guess what? You are their new pack sibling, their pack leader, and they are fully committed to you.

Dogs are one of the most devoted animals to their owners – they would give their life to save yours.

So when you decide to watch television, have a meal, go for a walk, head out to the car, or just want a quiet snooze, guess what. Your dog is there to share these experiences with you.


Why Dogs Lay Their Head on You While Sleeping

  • They have taken an oath upon themselves to protect you and care for you.
  • You are considered one of their family.
  • As a leader, you deserve loyalty and devotion.
  • They feel an emotional connection to you – they feel love and gratitude and like to be near you.
  • When you are asleep, they consider you to be vulnerable, so they are making sure you are safe.
  • Sleeping together is instinctive and natural for a dog – it’s part of their pack DNA.
  • It also is a great way for them to keep warm by snuggling into or upon you.
  • Resting their head on you shows how much they trust you.
  • It’s a dog thing … you are bonded to them, so in return, they are demonstrating their respect.
  • Because you make a nice warm pillow and it’s better than sleeping alone.
  • They can keep a better watch on what you are doing – the moment you move they are awake and ready to play.
  • They love you – it’s as pure and simple as that.


Your Dog Sees Itself as Your Minder!

It is like an unwritten dog law; Thou shalt protect and love your human at all times – period!

Starting from the puppy stage, they will follow you everywhere… even if you don’t want them to.

They follow you to the toilet, happily join you in the shower, and without being asked, will join you in bed, taking up the prime spot and banishing you to the outer edges.

If you are lounging around reading, they will sit on your feet and put their head on your lap, gazing at you in adoration.

If you are sleeping either in bed or just on the couch, the next thing you know is they will be poking that wet, snotty nose in your face to check that you are ok.

They are pleased with your reaction. They think ‘My hooman is ok, they moved, and they are shouting at me which is fabulous. Goal accomplished’.

They will never grow out of it, even when they are old and grey, you will still get that senior snout shoved in your face.

This means (in case you haven’t got it yet) that your dog absolutely, positively adores you.

They are doing their job and taking care of you.

No one can sneak up and catch you unawares when you sleep … your dog is a light sleeper and is awake and alert in a nanosecond.


Your Dog Feels Secure and Trusts You

If you ask most owners, they will say that they understand their dog completely.

If you asked every dog (and they could talk to you) they would say they understand their owners better than they understand themselves.

When your dog lays their head on you and goes to sleep, they are demonstrating that they arefeeling secure and content.

They have accepted you, you are their leader, and – if trained correctly – they will obey your orders and behave with decorum. 

(The caveat with that statement is that they do have ‘memory lapses’, and at times they will try to do what they want to do rather than obey you IF you let them get away with it.)

It takes a lot to make a dog turn against its owner. They give us unconditional love even if they don’t receive it. Animals rights groups are doing a great job of monitoring that pet owners are behaving in a positive humane manner, and there are steep fines and even prison time for those who practice cruelty to animals, which is as it should be.

Trust between a dog and an owner is very special, and when you have earned such a special gift, you should honor and maintain it carefully.

You know you have their trust when your dog lays their head on you and dozes off. They have appointed themselves as your guardian angel and just having a quick snooze while they are waiting for the fun things to happen.


They Respect the Leader of the Pack

Many owners believe that your dog considers you to be part of their pack and that they consider the dominant human(s) to be their pack leaders.

There is an opposing view from many others that dogs know full well that their humans aren’t other dogs. We don’t smell like dogs, we don’t look like dogs, we don’t act like dogs, and we don’t communicate like dogs.

However, most agree that there is a strong social bond between dogs and humans that allows both species to live together in harmony. The dog accepts the human and their human family as their ‘kin’ and accepts the ruling of the dominant human.

But if there are several dogs owned by one family, there is usually an Alpha (dominant) dog who rules over the other dogs for all things dog. But all the dogs accept and respect the human(s) as the pack leader and higher authority.

It goes without saying that how you treat your dog can alter the position of the dog versus the human position within the family.

A strong leader who trains their dog(s) correctly right from when they are introduced into the family will earn the respect of the dog.

The people who succeed with this expect certain behavior from their dogs and communicates this to them through regular training and clear instruction, followed by praise and reward for obeying the leader’s commands.

Then we have the other owner, the one who doesn’t train their dog, lets them get away with whatever they want, and the result is a dog that has no respect for their human owners.

These dogs are full of anxiety, aggression and are a nightmare to take anywhere because they think they are the boss. They consider the human subservient to them.

If you train your dog right from when you get them, you will establish a strong bond, and your dog will grow to be a pleasure to own. You are doing them a favor as they know their place in the pack.

Dogs like order, they like to know where they stand.

They will love resting on you, watch over you while you sleep, and be the best companion and confidant in the world for you.


Dogs Like to be In on Everything You Do

Your dog may seem in a deep sleep, but try getting up quietly and moving towards the fridge! As your shadow, they are with you instantly.

While your dog is distracted, try going to have a shower. You will be lucky to turn the water on before they are pawing at the door to check that you are ok.

Dogs love to be with you, and for a dog – life is always an adventure.

Even a basic chore such as putting out the rubbish bins on a stormy night is exciting to your pup. They will be bouncing around and ready to go as though you had just invited them to an open home at the local butcher shop.

My theory is that dogs are afraid you might try to sneak off without them, and in case you do,  they have devised a foolproof system to be warned about your every move. They simply rest their head on you if they want to take a nap.

It is almost impossible to move away with their head planted on you. Your slightest move will rouse them into full adventure mode.

Dogs are very light sleepers. Even when they are dog tired (pardon the pun) and in the throes of deep sleep, twitching away while dreaming, your slightest move will alert them to rouse from their sleep.

In my opinion, that is the main reason that your dog puts their head on you when they go to sleep. It makes sure you cannot go anywhere without them.


Sleeping Together Makes Sense – To Your Dog

Whether you lie down to sunbathe, curl up for a midday snooze, or just fall into bed at night tired to the bone, you will soon find your dog will take it upon themselves to lie down beside you and plant their head lovingly upon you.

In nature, dogs live by pack mentality – in other words, they share a closeness when they eat, travel, hunt, or sleep.

It is just natural for them to curl up with others within their pack for safety and another side benefit is that it is comfortable as well.

Puppies sleep and live as a pack, they pile upon each other to get the warmest spot next to the best teat on mum. They feel protected and warm snuggling in a pile.

Sleeping with people, other dogs, or sleeping with other animals such as cats, rabbits, or even birds is a natural thing for your dog.

Dogs sleep very lightly compared to people, so they make an ideal alarm system if something happens in or around your home that you should know about. 

Not everyone enjoys a dog in their bed, but having one in the bedroom is ideal for a younger dog as it provides a sense of security for them.

Be prepared for a wet nose to be poked into your face occasionally during the night. They are just checking to be sure that you are ok.


The Final Say

I believe the reason your dog puts their head on you while they sleep is due to a combination of reasons.

They feel safe, trust you, love your company, and just want to be close to their best buddy in the whole wide world.

Dogs are very empathetic and can feel when you are sad or unwell, and they will comfort you with their presence.

But laying their head on you also prevents you from trying to sneak away to do fun stuff without them.

When you adopt a dog, you get them for life. You have many things in your life,  but to them, they just have you – and you are their whole world.

They are in it for the long haul, and it is a partnership that should work both ways.

So in conclusion, a dog who likes to lay its head in your lap, on your back or even in your face is a sign that all is well with your doggo and you.

Relax and enjoy the trust and companionship of these extraordinary creatures.

Writer: Jean Brewer

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