NotABully.org is reader-supported. We may earn a small commission through products purchased using links on this page.
Arguably, the best part of the night is getting cozy in bed under the covers and having your dog jump up to join you for some cuddles.
By hugging your pup like a big teddy bear, you can fall asleep without a single worry on your mind!
Whether you are like me and love sleeping with your pets, or you prefer to keep your bed to yourself and fend off the furry paws, we have all asked this question at some point in the pet ownership journey: why do dogs like to sleep with humans?
Dogs like to sleep with humans because it is instinctual for them to feel safe, they like the warmth, they want to protect you, show you their love, they like the scent of your bed, or it’s just comfortable. These are not concerning reasons, but if it’s from separation anxiety, this needs to be addressed.
Hold on to your hats while we dive into figuring out why our dogs like to sleep with us in bed so much, and if it’s the bed or you that they like so much. We will also discuss if dogs prefer sleeping with humans and why they may not want to after all. Then, we will chat about the pros and cons of sleeping with a pet to see if it’s right for you!
Why Do Dogs Like To Sleep With Us?
Reason 1: Humans Are Warm
It’s no doubt that mammals produce and release heat as we are warm-blooded animals. While our dogs give off warmth, it’s nothing like the amount that humans give off!
Dogs like to sleep with humans partly due to this reasoning, as they may seek warmth from you to give them a comfortable night of rest.
When my mother lived in Colorado, the winters got cold (to say the least). She always tells us stories about those extra chilly nights where she didn’t cuddle with my dad but with their mini pack of chihuahuas instead! My mom is like a personal heater, always warm to the touch. Those pups knew it, too, and they would huddle up along her back, leaving her unable to move an inch.
Maybe you’re the same way, and it gives your dog just another reason to love you even more!
Short-haired breeds are more likely to snuggle up close to you before they go to sleep as they lose body heat easier than dogs with heavier, longer coats.
Huddling provides warmth for all parties involved, so it’s really a win-win situation to be in if you both want to eliminate night shivers.
Reason 2: Instincts
We have all heard about the “wolf pack” at one point in our lives. Its explanation helps dog owners and trainers alike to better understand our furry friends. So, how does sleeping in bed with their humans relate to these wolf instincts?
Well, dogs form social groups that have been shown to provide their ancestors with security and stability in the wild. Domesticated dogs have come a long way since surviving in the wilderness, but their natural desire for some sort of hierarchy still remains.
Research on captive wolves has suggested that canines follow a group based on family: the parents lead the group while the offspring listen and follow!
Since we are the “pet parent”, it is only expected that our pups will look up to us for guidance and direction in life. They will inevitably mimic our behaviors, so if they see you sleeping in your bed, they’ll probably hop in and join the party!
Imitation combined with the instinctual drive to stay in close quarters could be the reason your pup is piling up on you. It gives them a sense of safety in numbers, allowing them to sleep more soundly throughout the night compared to if they slept alone, feeling vulnerable.
If your sleeping arrangement looks something like this video, you now know where it comes from!
You are their parent, protector, and snoozing safety shield- what an honor!
Reason 2: They Feel Safe
As I just mentioned, we are the protectors of our dogs. It is our responsibility to keep our canine companions safe each and every day and to provide them with everything they need to live a healthy, fulfilling life!
And since we give them whatever they need and want, they trust us because we have their backs (even when we are fast asleep).
Studies have revealed that a dog-owner relationship is strikingly similar to a child-parent relationship in humans. When a dog is in the presence of its owner, it will show more confidence and motivation to engage in its surroundings. This is also referred to as the “secure-base effect”.
I can relate to why dogs sleep with their owners in bed for the reason to feel safe, as I would crawl into my parents’ bed any time I had a nightmare growing up. No shame! My parents made me feel protected in case those scary monsters became real and confident to know that I had support to fight them off!
Our dogs might not do this because of bad dreams, but they could still find snoozing in bed with you to be calming and reassuring, ultimately allowing for a good night of sleep!
Reason 3: They Love Us
What better way for our pups to show their love for us than to snuggle up with us at night in bed?
Dogs express themselves through non-verbal body language since they can’t form logical sentences (that will be the day).
Think of sleeping next to you as a demonstration of their love, just as when they lick you, wag their tail, maintain eye contact with you, or roll over for some of the best belly rubs.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it is the same takeaway: our dogs really do love us and want to let us know!
Spending the night with us is a perfect way for our pups to show us that they enjoy our company, even if we snore! Not to mention, it’s also an excellent form of bonding with your pup to ensure that you two are an unshakeable team.
Reason 4: To Protect Us
While letting your dog sleep in bed with you might make them feel safe, your dog could be having ulterior motives. That’s right, they want to make you feel safe too!
Your pup utilizes his instincts when dark falls in an effort to protect his family. Many dangers come about at night, so it is only natural for your fluffy friend to be on watch to keep his pack secure. To help with this, dogs are light sleepers.
This means that it is easier for them to wake up as they stay alert even while they’re asleep. They don’t need (and consequentially don’t have) as much REM sleep as humans do, which also explains why you see your pooch wake up and adjust several times throughout the day.
Sleeping in bed with you, your dog gets the opportunity to wake you up quickly if need be. And while some breeds and temperaments won’t physically protect you from an intruder, they can still sound the alarm to give you enough time to react accordingly!
Reason 5: We’ve Encouraged It
You might’ve felt lonely one night laying down for the evening, but luckily you have a four-legged best friend eager to please you with every request! And with that enthusiasm, the pup finds himself a comfy spot right next to you on your mattress.
As we know, once a habit is formed, it can become difficult to break it. It really only takes a few events where you encourage your pup to do something for that behavior to become a reoccurrence! Take cuddling with your dog as an example of this too.
This is because of positive reinforcement. You coaxed your pooch up on your bed and gave him kisses, pets, and praise when he came to you. Now, your pup thinks that sleeping on your bed with you is something that you want (and is acceptable). The rest is history!
Nobody wants to avoid something if they know it brings them happiness and praise, so why would dogs be any different?
It isn’t a bad thing if you inadvertently encouraged your dog to sleep with you at night, and there’s no need to correct this behavior. That is unless you are having trouble sleeping and want to kick your buddy back to his own bed!
Reason 6: Separation Anxiety
The only reason on this list that should be a cause for concern is separation anxiety. If your pup sleeps with you every night without fail and not leaving your side once the entire night, then this can become troublesome for both yourself and your dog.
Separation anxiety will manifest in other behaviors besides sleeping next to you or by your head, a few being excessive chewing, pacing, urinating at home, and even howling. Dogs suffering from this may feel the need to always be by your side.
Your pooch likely feels terrified to be left alone at night without you, and will therefore refuse to sleep anywhere except your mattress when you settle in for the evening.
It isn’t a good idea to let your dog snooze with you if you suspect him suffering from separation anxiety. Continuously allowing him to snuggle with you all of the time will only make his anxiety worse as you are essentially giving in to the anxiety rather than resolving it!
Begin teaching your pooch boundaries and giving him the confidence to be more independent. Consult a veterinarian as they can help you establish the severity of this concern and a path to start reducing the anxiety. Consistency is key if you want to help your pup out in the long run!
Why Does My Dog Like To Sleep In My Bed?
There is a special spot on the mattress designated for your pooch, and without fail, he snoozes there nightly. Maybe he even sleeps throughout the day without you there, too!
But what is the deal with your bed, and why does your pup find it so appealing? There are two main reasons why your pooch may be more attracted to sleeping in your bed, regardless of where you are in the home: comfort and smell.
Reason 1: The Bed Is Comfortable
Some pups know prime real estate when they feel it, and our beds are arguably the most comfortable pieces of furniture we own!
For one reason or another, your bed could be more comfortable than the dog bed, and your pup wants in on the comfort.
Though any size of dog could seek refuge on your mattress, larger breeds are likely to favor it more. This is because they get the opportunity to stretch all of their limbs and fill up the whole space! You only need a sliver to sleep on, right?
Check to see how your dog’s bed is holding up and if it works for your specific breed and his age. If the padding is getting worn down or the material is thinning, then it might be time to consider a new purchase. This may sway your pooch to go back to using his own bed if it meets his standards!
However, once your pooch gets a taste of the luxurious sleeping arrangement, don’t be surprised if he never touches his doggie bed again, no matter the price you paid for it.
Reason 2: They Like The Smell
Dogs have an incredible sniffer on them, often picking up on scents that are invisible to the human nose!
Your bed (and house for that matter) don’t have a noticeable smell to you if you’re the one living there. You get used to the scent and become nose-blind! However, our pups can continuously recognize different scents and learn what they are associated with.
Sleeping on your bed could be attractive to your dog because he likes the smell of you (since it is your bed, after all). Or, if he sleeps there regularly, his scent has marked the sheets too, and he enjoys his little slice of paradise!
The familiar smell on your bed sheets, whether his own or yours, also makes your dog feel safe and comfortable enough to lay down for some shut-eye. If a dog can find a place to rest peacefully, he will continue to return there repeatedly.
Do Dogs Prefer To Sleep With Their Owners?
The answer to this isn’t a simple yes or no because frankly, every dog is its own individual.
However, many times the answer is yes!
It really comes down to the temperament and nature of your dog, if they are the cuddly type, if they have a very close bond with you, and if sleeping next to you is comfortable.
Some pups love to cuddle and could do it no matter the time of day, or if you’re even awake to acknowledge the love.
If your pooch loves to be around you and has all of the attention centered around them, then it is expected that they may also prefer to sleep with you. You give them the gratitude and affection they crave and that will continue even if you’re sleeping. Your presence alone is showing love to them!
Having a strong relationship can cause your pooch to prefer snoozing next to you at night in bed, as they feel empowered, protected, safe, and calm. They have you as their protector, and with that, they can sleep easily (regardless of your snoring).
Is It OK If My Dog Doesn’t Prefer To Sleep With Me?
Just as some dogs prefer to sleep with their owners, other dogs prefer to sleep by themselves. And yes, this is OK too!
Everybody deserves and needs some alone time, so every dog will decide when they want their space and to be left by themselves. Don’t feel bad about this because it isn’t something that you’ve done wrong! Just remember that when your pup has recharged his social battery, he will be excited and come to find you for more quality time together.
Don’t force your dog to sleep with you, either. He might prefer his own dog bed for various reasons that have nothing to do with your personality!
It could be that the body heat you give off is actually uncomfortable for your pooch. Especially if they have longer or thicker fur, they may not need the extra heat and with it, not be able to sleep. This could cause your pup to still sleep in your vicinity, say on the floor or in his dog bed.
You may also move too much at night and disturb your dog’s sleep. I know I toss and turn like crazy throughout the evening, making it impossible for anybody to sleep peacefully by my side! My cat has resorted to sleeping above my head on a pillow just so I don’t roll over onto him out of the blue.
Dogs enjoy undisrupted sleep just like the rest of us, so they might’ve learned how restless you are in bed and have decided they’re better off sleeping somewhere else!
Have you crate-trained your dog?
If so, then this could also be a possibility that explains why your dog seemingly prefers sleeping in his crate rather than with you. Your pup doesn’t know that it is ok to sleep with you in your bed as he wasn’t taught anything other than going to his crate at night.
If you want to see if he prefers sleeping next to you (and you’re ok with a dog claiming part of your mattress), then encourage him to jump into bed when you lay down. He could just be waiting for the day you give permission to ditch his crate for a bed that is cozier!
Pros And Cons Of Sleeping In Bed With Your Dog
With any decision, there are consequences, good and bad. Having your dog sleep in bed with you is no different! It is important to understand the pros and cons of allowing this to ensure both you and your dog remain healthy, happy, and well-rested.
We will see if you change your mind one way or the other on encouraging your pup to sleep with you in your own bed after watching this video!
First, let’s look at a few of the benefits, then a few drawbacks not mentioned.
One of the main benefits of snoozing next to your dog at night is that it relieves anxiety and depression!
Interactions with your pup have been shown in research to release and raise oxytocin levels in your and your dog’s body. It also decreases the human’s cortisol levels while the level raises in the dog. It actually only takes one minute of cuddling or affection for oxytocin levels to begin increasing and cortisol to decrease. That’s fast!
This means that all of the cuddle sessions on the sofa and nighttime snuggles are promoting excellent health from within!
The heat exchange that happens between you and your dog through heat radiation is also a benefit to sleeping next to one another.
As mammals, we release body heat that can be ideal for wintertime cuddles! Whether it’s cold in the home or outside or your dog gets chilly easily, cozying up to you in bed at night would be a perfect plan to get some extra warmth. This will help both parties sleep better, granted it doesn’t become too warm…
As much as you should be aware of the benefits that come with letting your dog sleep in bed with you, you should take precautions when doing so to avoid possible negative results.
Dogs are dirty and that is an inevitable truth about owning them. Keeping them clean after a groom can prove difficult, especially when they run around outside in the yard or tussle with other pups at the dog park. You are really lucky if your dog immediately jumps into any body of water they find!
Dirt, debris, and even bugs can hitchhike in your dog’s coat and end up in your bed. This is a health hazard to you because it can bring about unwanted allergens (from pet dander) or disease exposure that otherwise wouldn’t have occurred.
There is also a risk of fleas, ticks, and ringworm being spread onto you and your bedsheets, especially if your dog isn’t kept up to date on their preventatives.
Not to mention one of the biggest cons for some people: they can’t sleep when their dog is next to them! This could be due to the fact that dogs are polyphasic sleepers, so they will wake up periodically before repositioning and resting again. If you are a light snoozer, this can spell trouble as your pup will continuously wake you up with his movements and take away from your necessary sleep!
It is an excellent question to ask why dogs sleep with humans. There is a multitude of reasons for this behavior, and the answer isn’t going to be just one of them!
Whether they like to sleep with you in bed because of your warmth, scent, natural instincts, to protect you, to feel safe, or as an act of love, these are never a bad thing. You should only be concerned and take advice if you believe your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, as allowing him to sleep with you only strengthens this dependence.
There are both pros and cons to sleeping in bed with your dog, and each factor should be taken into consideration before promoting this behavior.
Regardless, if you have a healthy, well-groomed dog, don’t be afraid to encourage your dog up on your bed! You might just be surprised at how efficient and enjoyable your sleep routine becomes!