Why Does My Dog Lay In The Bathroom? (We Asked A Veterinarian)

small dog laying on a smooth floor
Picture of <a href="https://notabully.org/author/dr-nita-patel" target="_blank" rel="noopener">     <span style="font-size: 21px; color: black;">Fact Checked & Reviewed By: </span>     <strong style="font-size: 20px; color: black;">Dr. Nita Vasudevan Patel, DVM, MS</strong> </a>

Dr. Patel is a Florida-based veterinarian with over half a decade of experience.

Picture of <a href="https://notabully.org/author/dr-nita-patel" target="_blank" rel="noopener">     <span style="font-size: 19px; color: black;">Fact Checked & Reviewed By: </span>     <strong style="font-size: 19px; color: black;">Dr. Nita Vasudevan Patel, DVM, MS</strong> </a>
Fact Checked & Reviewed By: Dr. Nita Vasudevan Patel, DVM, MS

Dr. Patel is a Florida-based veterinarian with over half a decade of experience.

I think most of us try to invest time and resources to create the ideal resting place for our beloved pets. When we hit the mark, the sight of our dog contentedly snoozing in their new bed is a heartwarming reward. However, it’s not uncommon for our canine companions to have their own ideas about the perfect nap spot.

Despite our best intentions, your dog might prefer the hard bathroom floor over the cozy bed you’ve chosen for them for a combination of reasons. Most dogs like the feeling of the cool floor especially during the summer months. Other dogs may prefer the smaller space of the bathroom which taps into their natural instinct to find a den. Your dog could also be nervous or just seeking some quiet time.

As long as your dog is happy and healthy, it’s perfectly okay for dogs to sleep in the bathroom. Just as you would in any other part of the house, make sure there’s nothing that would be dangerous for your dog in the bathroom. As long as the area is safe there’s no reason they can’t nap in the bathroom or even the bathtub if your pup is so inclined!

In this article, we will go over the possible reasons why your dog prefers to lay and sleep in the bathroom over any other spot so you can better understand your dog.

Reason 1: The Bathroom Floor Feels Cool And Comfortable

In the warm summer months, the bathroom floor can be one of the coolest (in terms of temperature) places in the house. Especially if your bathroom doesn’t have a window that lets in extra heat.

Additionally, unless your pup is a fast-growing Great Dane, there’s probably plenty of room on the floor for them to stretch out which can further reduce their body temperature. Curling up is the opposite of this and can help you, or your dog, conserve body heat.

Most dog beds have a round shape that almost forces dogs to curl up. The combination of the curled-up sleeping position and a warm bed can really heat things up and make the coolness of the bathroom floor even more appealing.

Less commonly, the bathroom could also be a warmer spot in the cooler months. My dog loves to sneak and lay in our bathroom during the winter because the space is small enough that the radiator heats up the room much faster compared to the rest of the house.

While many dogs will lay in the bathroom during the hotter months, don’t be surprised if your dog enjoys the cool floors of your bathroom year-round, especially if you tend to crank up the heat.

So, consider the time of year that your dog lays in the bathroom but don’t rule out this explanation just because it’s cool outside.

Reason 2: Your Dog Wants A Den

Even though it’s hard to imagine a little Maltese dog roaming around in the wild, our dogs are still very much driven by many of their natural instincts some of which can lead to some strange or weird canine behaviors– including hanging out in the bathroom and laying on the floor.

In the wild or even in urban areas, dogs use dens to stay safe and raise their young. These dens are usually small, dark, and semi-secluded. In the modern home, the bathroom is one of the best equivalents to the canine den, even more so if your bathroom doesn’t have any windows.

For a better idea of what a dog den looks like, check out this amazing video inside the den of a mother fox and her pups:

It might still feel like a stretch but after taking a quick look inside and outside that den you can probably see how the bathroom could help dogs tap into this instinct. Of course, your dog doesn’t have to be raising a litter of pups to want a den or even consciously thinking about this drive. Instead, it’s a subconscious desire to find a small space to cozy up in.

Crates also help dogs tap into this desire, even if puppies sometimes need a little help figuring things out. But if your dog doesn’t have a crate to settle into, the bathroom can be the next best option.

Reason 3: Your Dog Finds The Floor More Comfortable

Just like some people prefer firm mattresses and others prefer soft ones, individual dogs may have preferences for certain textures. Your dog may just prefer the feeling of the firm floor over their soft bed- no matter how expensive their new dog bed was!

Pay attention to how your dog lays in the bathroom. Do they typically stretch out with all their legs straight out? If yes, then they should have a bed that matches their style and not a bed that forces them to curl up into a ball to fit. In that case, consider a flat dog bed that doesn’t have any ridges to keep your dog curled up.

That’s exactly what I did for my greyhound. This breed can be somewhat awkward and their long bony limbs can make it difficult to lay down on round or puffy beds. He would often go to the bathroom and lay on the flat bath rug, so I decided to switch his bed to a large rectangular bed that he ended up loving more than the bathroom.

Reason 4: Your Dog Simply Wants Some Quiet Time

Your dog could choose the bathroom for naps because it’s one of the quietest places in the house. Even the most outgoing dogs need some downtime every now and again which includes a break from other pets, people, or kids.

The bathroom is the perfect place for a canine’s break since it’s rare for people to just hang out in the bathroom. In fact, that would be downright weird but it’s totally normal for your dog!

Consider what time of day your dog decides to lay in the bathroom or what else is going on inside the house. If your dog seems to gravitate towards the bathroom when the kids come home from school or when guests arrive it could just be their way of finding a quiet spot.

If your dog is simply laying down in the bathroom and overall seems relaxed then there’s not much to worry about here. In fact, you should be happy that your dog has such appropriate and healthy ways of managing their stress!

Reason 5: Your Dog Is Nervous

As we’ve already pointed out, bathrooms are cool, dark, and have limited stimulation just like a dog’s traditional den. It’s no surprise then that the den-like bathroom could be their go-to spot when they’re feeling stressed or overstimulated by what’s going on around them.

Not A Bully’s advising veterinarian, Dr. Nita Patel further explaines that “The bathroom may serve a similar purpose like a crate would, a safe space, a safe environment.”

It could be noisy guests, inside or outside activity (like fireworks, thunder, or construction) but either way, some dogs will head to the bathroom as a way to escape it.

Pay attention to how your dog is acting once they’re in the bathroom, if they’re just laying down then it’s probably better explained by the previous reason and your dog may just need a break. But if instead, your dog is showing anxious body language like panting (even while laying down) then you may need to help them cope with their stress.

Reason 6: You’re In The Bathroom!

This explanation couldn’t be simpler…if you’re in the bathroom then of course your dog will want to spend some time in there too! And what better way to pass the time until you both go on to your next adventure than by laying down on the bathroom floor?

It’s also possible that your dog is anticipating your routine so even if you’re not in the bathroom yet your dog may know that you will be soon and decide to lay down until you arrive. While it’s worth being impressed by our dog’s ability to pick up on our routines, human visits to the bathroom (in the morning and evening) are one of the easiest things to anticipate so most dogs will pick up on this pretty quickly.

Reason 7: The Bathroom Smells Like You

In no way are we trying to be gross here but there’s a good chance that the bathroom has plenty of interesting smells and most of them revolve around you. Your dog’s powerful sense of smell can motivate all kinds of behavior from licking your legs to growing at seemingly nothing and of course spending time in the bathroom.

There are some obvious contributions to the smell of a bathroom and if you keep your dirty laundry in the bathroom then there will be plenty of interesting smells for dogs to appreciate.

I had a client whose dog was so drawn to her smell in the bathroom, that on laundry day or after she cleaned the bathroom, her dog would drag other pieces of laundry from her bedroom back into the bathroom. Scent is extremely powerful for our dogs and what we often think smells bad, is very appealing to our pups.

But for this reason, to make sense, your dog doesn’t have to be obsessively sniffing away at everything in the bathroom. The interesting smells could just make laying down in the bathroom a little more appealing for your pooch.

Reason 8: You May Be Encouraging The Behavior

What happens when you walk into the bathroom to find your dog lounging away on the floor?

If you’re like most people, you probably react with something. Especially the first time it happens and just about anything that gets attention could become motivation for dogs.

While we know that dogs love treats which make them great for positive reinforcement simply petting your dog could reinforce behavior and encourage your dog to continue laying on the bathroom floor.

Of course, the behavior doesn’t start with your encouragement and I’m not suggesting that you somehow trained your dog to hang out on the bathroom floor. Instead, one of the explanations above likely started the behavior and your reaction kept it going or encouraged it to continue.

Unexpected or unintentional reinforcement can help explain a long list of canine behaviors from happily grooming you to grunting every time you pet them.

So think carefully about how you react when you walk in on your dog laying in the bathroom…there’s a chance you’re doing something that your dog sees as encouragement!

Why Does My Dog Sleep In The Bathtub?

Some dogs take their bathroom hangouts a step further and actually crawl into the bathtub for a snooze.

What’s going on here and why do some dogs sleep inside the bathtub?

Dogs sleep inside the bathtub because it’s comfortable, cool, quiet, and quite similar to the sort of den they’d pursue in the wild. Even though dogs live in our homes, they still have the instinct to find these types of places to relax. 

Overall, there aren’t many differences between the canine motivation to sleep on the bathroom floor and the motivation to sleep in the bathtub. Some dogs just choose to take things a step further!

Should You Worry?

Most of the time, laying in the bathroom is pretty normal dog behavior and not much to worry about. As we’ve just seen, there are plenty of reasons to explain this canine habit and besides increased anxiety, none of them are particularly worrisome.

However, any sudden change in your dog’s behavior should at the very least raise an eyebrow. So if your dog has never spent time in the bathroom or used to sleep with you only to suddenly turn the bathroom into their main nap location then there could be something else going on.

Look for other changes in your dog’s behavior including changes in appetite or weight. Pay close attention to your dog’s body language in the bathroom as well. As we’ve already mentioned, there’s a big difference between your dog lounging on the floor and laying while panting with eyes wide.

But dogs that are suddenly isolating themselves or avoiding contact with their human companions are certainly a cause for concern and if you’re ever unsure, it’s also worth talking to your veterinarian about it.

How Can I Encourage My Dog To Sleep Somewhere Else?

While it’s usually not a big deal to let your dog snooze in the bathroom, that doesn’t mean it’s something you want to happen.

Whether you’re tired of all the extra hair on the floor or you want to avoid your pup using the toilet bowl as a drinking fountain, there are plenty of good reasons why you might want to avoid turning the bathroom into your dog’s bedroom.

So let’s look at a few steps that will help you encourage your dog to sleep somewhere else.

Turn A “No” Into A “Yes”

One of the easiest ways to stop dogs from sleeping in the bathroom is to simply shut the door.

That’s it, no more bathroom.

However, I find that when it comes to modifying behavior for dogs, cats, and even people it’s always a good idea to try and replace every “no” with a “yes” of some kind. For example, if you remove your dog’s access to the bathroom give them another comparable area to spend their time.

Dr. Nita Patel told us that “this creates a displacement behavior, essentially your dog is displaced or distracted from doing something undesired.”

That could be a dark and cool crate or another quiet part of the house where they can relax but it’s important to realize that removing access to the bathroom doesn’t remove the desire to spend time in the bathroom.

Simply shutting the door without giving your dog an alternative could lead pups to scratch or whine at the door.

Understand Why Your Dog Likes The Bathroom

But before you can turn that “no” into a “yes” it’s important to understand why your dog likes the bathroom in the first place. Review the reasons above and figure out which one (or which combination) best explains why your dog likes laying in the bathroom in the first place.

Do they just need somewhere quiet to nap? Do they prefer the cool floor or do they just need somewhere they can call their den? Or maybe your dog needs a bigger bed.

Whatever it is, once you know why your dog likes the bathroom you can make another spot more appealing. Cooling pads, crates, and crate covers can all help you get the feel of the bathroom.

However, if anxiety is the problem then it’s important to address the source of your dog’s stress and not just give them a better spot to nap.

Positively Reinforce The New Location

Once you’ve offered your dog a bathroom alternative, it’s time to positively reinforce the new location.

This doesn’t have to be complicated! Every time you see your dog use their new bed, give them a treat, a pet, or just some verbal praise to let them know that they’re doing the right thing.

If you’ve done a good job making their new nap location appealing, it shouldn’t take much to encourage the behavior!

What About When I Shower?

If your dog lays in the bathroom when you shower then it’s likely that your dog simply loves spending time with you! Some breeds are more likely than others to follow people around, but any dog would be happy to be a part of your routine.

It’s also worth considering what your dog does after your shower.

If they follow you into the next room after you’ve dried off then that confirms your pup just wants to stay by your side. But if instead your dog vigorously licks the floor to soak up all the moisture then you may not have been the main attraction after all!

As is often the case, context will help you figure out what’s really going on!

Closing Thoughts

That’s it! Everything you need to know about why some dogs love to lay down and take a nap in the bathroom! While the bathroom is a popular spot, many of these reasons apply to other floors in the house too!

In most cases, it’s simply a great spot for your dog to unwind and relax but in some cases, anxiety could be driving your dog to seek refuge in the bathroom.

Pay attention to context clues so you can understand the difference and never hesitate to ask for help if you’re not sure!

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