Your dog might have had a long day of playing, eating, and following you around. When it’s time to sleep, they go to their usual spot whether it’s on their own bed, your bed, or their crate. But there’s one thing you notice that your dog does when they sleep: they cover their face.
You might look at your pup covering their snout as they take a nap and think, “Why do dogs cover their face when sleeping?”
Dogs might cover their face when sleeping because it makes them feel safe or they might find that position comfortable. Your dog could be covering their snout to block out the light, or because they feel anxious. It could be a habit or an itch, or your dog could be mimicking you or another dog.
There’s definitely more than one explanation as to why your dog might be covering their snout when sleeping. Let’s take a look at these reasons and a few more to better understand this quirky or perhaps not-so-quirky behavior!
Why Do Dogs Cover Their Snout When Sleeping?
Time to explore all the reasons your precious pooch might be sleeping with their face or snout covered.
Reason 1: Your Dog Finds It Comfortable
There are many times your dog does something because they are trying to tell you something. However, there are times when your dog might do something simply because they just find it comfortable even when it doesn’t seem like it would.
Dogs can do some weird things that look uncomfortable. For example, your dog might sleep on your neck or in the corner of a room. Your dog might find it comfortable to have their face covered because it keeps them warm or because they like the feeling of something petting their face.
Every dog is different from the other just like every person is different from one another. While some dogs might like covering their face when they sleep, other dogs might prefer to have their face exposed during a nap.
Check out this short video with a few dogs sleeping in different places because they find them comfortable:
Reason 2: It Makes Your Dog Feel Safe
When sleeping, it isn’t unusual that your dog wants to feel safe. Sleeping is a vulnerable thing to do since they are not aware of their surroundings.
So your dog might be covering their snout when they sleep because it makes them feel safe.
Having something on your dog’s face might feel like a protective shield. Either they use their own paws or have a blanket on their face, they might like how it’s a barrier between them and the outside world.
The space your dog sleeps in is their safe zone and they might do things that make themselves feel safer. The things your dogs do to make themselves feel safer are most noticeable during thunderstorms since most dogs are afraid of storms. They may hide in their crate or find their usual spot in the house.
Reason 3: Your Dog Wants To Cover Their Face From Bright Light
Imagine you finally get to lie down for a nap or to sleep after a long day of work. Suddenly, a very bright light wakes you up! You wouldn’t really enjoy trying to fall asleep with a very bright light on and neither would your pup!
While most lights that are safe for humans are also safe for dogs, and your dog might simply be trying to shield their eyes from the lights while they’re trying to sleep, there are some dogs that have light sensitivity.
When combined with some other symptoms, your dog’s light sensitivity may be the result of a disease or eye injury. Some of those symptoms may include constant squinting and rapid blinking.
If you suspect that your dog is covering their face due to a sensitivity to bright light, it is best to check in with your veterinarian to make sure there is nothing wrong with your dog’s eyes.
Reason 4: Your Dog Has An Itch
Dogs will do whatever it takes to scratch an itch even if it might seem unusual like rubbing on the carpet, or falling asleep with their paw resting over their face, or more like over that itch.
Even with humans, if someone feels an itch when close to falling asleep or partially asleep, they’ll scratch it to relieve themselves from the annoyance! Your dog might look like they’re covering their nose while they’re sleeping, but they could just be scratching an itch they feel on their face when being close to falling asleep.
It’s important to know if your dog is constantly itching. If so, they may be dealing with a skin issue or other health concern. If you notice that your dog is scratching a spot such as their face frequently, visit your veterinarian to find out the cause of your dog’s itch.
Check out this video of a pup who was finally able to scratch an itch they couldn’t reach on their own:
Reason 5: Your Dog Feels Anxious
While there are many differences between dogs and humans, there are a few similarities as well. Dogs can feel anxiety just as humans do. So, your dog might cover their face when sleeping because they are feeling anxious.
Dogs most likely realize that covering their face with their paw doesn’t make it possible to completely hide from what could be making them anxious, but doing so might bring them comfort.
It might not be clear as to why your dog might be feeling anxious, but there are other signs to show if your dog is facing anxiety that is hindering their daily life. Some signs that your dog may be showing due to anxiety may include acting strange and barking excessively and whining a lot.
Reason 6: Your Dog Is Mimicking Someone
Dogs can do things that remind us of human children! You might find your dog and a kid copying your every move!
According to a canine psychologist, Dr. Coren, it’s not uncommon for dogs to mimic their owners or other animals. Your dog covers their face when sleeping because they might have either seen you or another animal do it.
Interestingly, dogs don’t only mimic actions; dogs also show signs of mimicking sounds as well. If you love watching dog videos online, you’ve probably seen a few with dogs “replying” to their owners! Dogs might echo a few “words” that seem similar to the ones you say to them.
Why do some dogs randomly decide to mimic others?
While it isn’t clear why dogs mimic other animals, naturalist, and biologist, Charles Darwin hypothesized that dogs might copy each other’s actions to show their adaptability and intelligence, even when some of the things they do, don’t seem to show intelligence!
Reason 7: Your Dog Just Happened To Do It
While dogs are always trying to communicate with their owners, there are times when their actions are just done by chance!
Your dog might have moved their paw or head while sleeping and ended up in a position that makes them look like they’re covering their face in their sleep!
If your dog seems to cover their snout in their sleep once in a while, it is likely that there is no reason behind it and you might have just caught them in the few seconds they ended up in that pose!
Dogs aren’t the only animals to cover their face randomly when they sleep. Check out this video of a cat covering their face while sleeping:
Reason 8: Your Dog Has Allergies
Your dog might cover their snout when they’re sleeping because they have allergies.
When we have allergies as humans, we might find it difficult to breathe properly or seem to have an itchy nose most of the time. Dogs can experience that annoying feeling too!
Your dog might seem to cover their snout while sleeping because they might feel as if something is irritating their nose.
But how can you tell if your dog has allergies?
Your dog will show other signs of having allergies such as itching and sneezing a lot, having inflamed skin, and even vomiting. Dogs might also keep scratching a certain spot.
If you suspect that your dog is covering their face because of allergies, it is best to contact your veterinarian to work together and figure out what your dog might be allergic to if they do have allergies.
Reason 9: Something Is Bothering Your Dog’s Nose
Your dog might cover their nose when sleeping because there is something bothering their nose.
There are times when you’re having a great nap and suddenly something is bothering your nose! You find yourself either touching your nose while half awake or you might even find yourself waking up fully because of how annoying that feeling is! Your dog might feel the same way!
Your dog might have been having a really peaceful sleep when suddenly something brushed against their snout or face. Instead of waking up completely, your pup might just cover their face to shield themselves from that annoyance coming a second time.
It could be a tiny bit of dust or even another pet brushing up against them, but all your dog wants to do is sleep!
Reason 10: It Is One Of Your Dog’s Habits
While we have mentioned many other similarities between humans and dogs already, there’s another one to add to the list! Dogs have habits as well!
Your dog might cover their face when sleeping because it has become one of your dog’s habits.
Your dog might have realized how comfy it might actually be to sleep with their snout covered and chose to do it a couple of times until it became a habit!
Things your dog does on a daily basis are habits that they have formed over multiple days. Dogs like to have a routine and covering their face while sleeping might be part of that routine.
Since dogs are creatures of habit, it can be very hard for you to teach your pup to undo the habit. However, covering their face while sleeping might not necessarily be a negative habit that you would want to get rid of unless it is putting your dog or someone else in danger.
Our dogs do a lot of things that we find cute, but sometimes we find ourselves thinking, “Why does my dog do that?” like when they decide to cover their face when they sleep.
Understanding why our dogs do what they do can be one of the best ways to communicate with our pups. Since they can’t tell us how they feel or what they need using words, body language is what they use to talk to us. You can use your observations to know when your dog needs something and also strengthen your relationship!