Why Does My Dog Sleep By the Door?

Why Does My Dog Sleep By the Door?

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It’s no strange fact that dogs love to sleep. Sometimes in their crate, on the couch, in their own bed, and sometimes even in your own bed. But sometimes you find your dog sleeping by the door. 

It doesn’t look like the comfiest place to sleep, so why do dogs sleep by the door?

Dogs will often sleep or lay by the door because of different reasons including guarding, needing to go potty, waiting for you, and solely because it’s comfortable. Unless separation anxiety is the cause of sleeping in front of the door, there isn’t much to worry about.

These are just a few of the reasons, but let’s try to see the situation through your dog’s eyes to find out more about why your dog might sleep by or lay near the door!

Reason 1: Guarding & Being Protective

Wolves, the ancestors of dogs, had the instinct to be protective of their belongings. This instinct helped with their survival and the safety of the pack against other predators.

These instincts have been passed onto our canine companions at home even though they can sometimes act like they are not even close to being related to their intimidating and brave ancestors. The instinct to protect and guard was also especially enhanced in the breeds that were bred for guarding that are now often trained to work with the police or protect property.

Even if your dog is not considered a guard dog, by sleeping or laying by the door, your dog feels like the first line of defense in case something or someone comes in through that door. One way dogs guard their homes is through the typical scenario of barking at the mailman when they come to deliver your packages.

When your tiny pup or big dog lays or sleeps near the door, they’re most likely staying there to be prepared for another possible threat or danger. Strategic placement by the door is similar to dogs that sleep with their back to you– they want to see what’s going on! 

Reason 1: Guarding & Being Protective

Wolves, the ancestors of dogs, had the instinct to be protective of their belongings. This instinct helped with their survival and the safety of the pack against other predators. These instincts could have been passed onto our canine companions at home even though they can sometimes act like they are not even close to being related to their intimidating and brave ancestors.

The instinct to protect and guard was also especially enhanced in the breeds that were bred for guarding that are now often trained to work with the police or protect property.

Even if your dog is not considered a guard dog, by sleeping or laying by the door, your dog feels like the first line of defense in case something or someone comes in through that door. One way dogs guard their homes is through the typical scenario of barking at the mailman when they come to deliver your packages.

When your tiny pup or big dog lays or sleeps near the door, they’re most likely staying there to be prepared for another possible threat or danger.

Reason 2: It’s Where the Most Foot Traffic is

When there are doors, there are people! To dogs, doors can be associated with fun visitors. They know at any moment, someone in the family or a friend can walk right in, especially if someone in the house regularly goes out to work or school.

According to a study done by animal psychologist Thomas Zentall and canine cognition researcher Kristina F. Pattison, dog’s have object permanence, the understanding that objects, people, and other animals still exist even when they’re not in sight. This means that your dog knows that their friends and favorite people are out there in the world and one might come in any moment, especially if you have visitors often. If it’s summertime, you may also find that you or other people in the house tend to go in and out of the house more often. 

All this action near the door might be the reason why your dog could be sleeping or laying by the door. Knowing that someone will eventually come in and it’s exciting for them!

Reason 3: Waiting for You

Similar to having the most foot traffic near the door, your dog could be sleeping by the door to wait for you to come back. Some people have cameras in their houses to keep track of their dogs’ or other pets’ behavior while they’re out working or going to school. If you have one of these, you might find your dog laying by the door.

If your dog doesn’t normally do this when you’re at home, your dog probably misses you! Being with you is the best part of being your dog! You’re their best friend and when your best friend leaves, you want them to come back! However, if your dog seems to just wait, your dog might also be bored and the only thing they can think of is waiting for you to come home to play with.

Witness the happiness a dog can feel when you come home:

Some ways to keep your dog entertained while you’re out are. Giving dog puzzles with treats if your dog loves food (like this one), a Kong with frozen food inside, or these kind of toys by ZippyPaws.

Reason 4: Separation Anxiety

If your dog does nothing when you’re gone except sleep by the door, there may be more to it besides missing you. Separation anxiety is when your dog feels stressed, anxious, and helpless without you being there. It is more than just missing their owner as some dogs with separation anxiety seem like they can’t function without their owners.

How do you know if it’s separation anxiety or if your dog just misses you?

Dogs with separation anxiety may potty inside when they don’t normally do that. They might also bark or howl nonstop, be destructive, and show signs of stress like panting when they haven’t moved much and the temperature is not hot. While these seem like tiring activities, some dogs seem to shut down and just sleep in one spot all day, like sleeping by the door. 

Others may show more signs when you’re home like following you around the house or trying to sleep as close to you as possible when you are home.

If you suspect your dog has separation anxiety, one of the methods for helping dogs be more comfortable being alone is by leaving them starting with small amounts of time and slowly increasing the time alone. Dogs can greatly benefit from enrichment such as the puzzles mentioned before to keep their brains active while also staying busy and entertained.

If you don’t know where to start or need a little help, reaching out to a trainer is always an option! They’ve dealt with many dogs with separation anxiety and will be able to help you and your pup strengthen your bond without having your dog worried about you leaving.

Reason 5: Wanting to Play Outside

Some dogs naturally love the outdoors with all the interesting scents and sounds. If your dog loves the outdoors, they might be laying by the door to try to tell you they want to play outside. Things that happen outside don’t happen when they’re inside most of the day so being outside gives dogs a way to use all their senses.

Your dog might also be a high energy dog who loves to run around in the backyard or go for walks. If your dog has frequent positive and happy experiences being outside, they might be sleeping by the door, waiting for their next adventure!

Reason 6: Need to Potty

When you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go!

Since dogs can’t speak to us in our own languages, they can’t really tell us when they need to go outside to potty. By laying by the door, your pup may be trying to tell you that they need to pee or poop! If you normally let your dog outside or walk them around to potty, they probably realized that the doorway is the way to relieve themself.

While dogs can’t speak to us through speech, people have found other ways to help their dogs communicate with their owners! Some people like using a bell that hangs on the doorknob like this one on Amazon. With a lot of research and patience, they trained their dogs to hit the bell whenever they need to go outside.

Similarly, you may have seen videos of dogs being able to “speak” using buttons with recorded words which you can see on Amazon. I’ve trained my own dog to hit a button that says, “Outside,” whenever she wanted to go outside. Whenever she would hit the button, I would take her outside to make the association between the button and being outside.

Watch this adorable pup ask to go outside:

These are just a few ways people have found to help their dogs tell them when they need to potty. You can give one or a few of them a try and find out how your dog chooses to talk to you!

Reason 7: You Could Be Encouraging Your Dog to Sleep by the Door

All sleeping dogs are adorable and all dogs can lay in goofy ways so it’s not strange to want to exclaim to the world how adorable your pup is! But while this attention toward your dog by the door may seem harmless, your excitement could mean a lot to your dog.

Positive reinforcement is something that you do to reinforce or encourage a certain behavior. A common example of positive reinforcement is telling your dog to sit and then giving them a treat right after they sit.

By giving your dog attention through pets, excited exclamations, or petting your dog while they’re laying by the door, you are using positive reinforcement. Your dog might be thinking, “My human loves when I lay by the door! I’ll keep doing it to make both of us happy!” and will most likely continue sleeping or laying by the door.

Reason 8: It’s Cool and Comfortable

If your dog looks super content and comfortable sleeping by the door, that might just be the reason! Sometimes, your dog lays in the weirdest of places just because it’s comfortable!

How can dogs find sleeping by the door comfortable?

Like with people, it depends on the situation! You might have noticed that there’s probably a slight draft of wind near the door. If it’s warm in the house or it’s summertime, your dog might realize that sleeping by the door is the best way to cool down! It’s like when your dog decides to lay on the cool bathroom tiles instead of their own warm bed in the summer!

If you think this is the case with your dog, it’s important to provide ways to cool down for your dog. Depending on the breed or color of their fur, your dog might have different temperature needs than others, especially having a black dog in the hot summer.

One way to help your dog cool down is to freeze some treats in a Kong or ice pop molds. That way, your panting pup won’t need to sleep by the door to cool off and can get a fun treat!

Reason 9: Marking Territory

Marking territory is not the same as being a protective guard dog. Guarding is a way to keep others from coming close or touching other dogs’ things. Unlike guarding, marking territory is like a way to say, “Hey, I was here first, but I won’t be mad if you come here too!” It can be compared to your dog putting a name tag on their toys and other belongings.

Most dogs mark territory by peeing on a certain area or rolling around in their stuff. But, they can also lay in the area that they believe is theirs. Interestingly, other animals, such as cats and foxes, also mark their territory using different methods like rubbing against things. Each dog has their own way to mark their territory and laying near the door may be your dog’s preferred method.

Reason 10: Feeling Curious

Dogs are often compared to toddlers and like toddlers, dogs can be curious!

A lot of things happen out in the world. New sights and sounds to explore! You’ve probably heard many times that dogs have better hearing than people. So, it’s not an unusual idea that dogs could hear things that are happening on the other side of the door. 

Laying by the door could be your dog’s way of trying to hear new sounds and listen to people and other dogs pass by. They might be thinking thoughts like, “What was that new sound I just heard?” “Could it be my friend from the park?” “Is it a squirrel?”

While listening to the outdoor world by laying near the door can be interesting for your dog, it’s important to give them a way to let out their curiosity. Going for walks or hikes are great ways for dogs to let them experience new things.

Why Does My Dog Sleep By My Bedroom Door?

Sometimes you get that feeling like you’re being watched…and then you realize it was your dog laying by your bedroom door.

Why is your dog laying or sleeping by your bedroom door?

Your dog could be sleeping by your bedroom door for the same reasons mentioned about laying near the main door such as protecting you, it’s comfortable there, and it’s their way of marking their territory. Sometimes, your dog just wants to be near you because you give all your love to them and they want to return the favor!

How to Discourage the Behavior

While sleeping or laying by the door seems like a harmless act, there could be reasons not to want your dog to do it such as getting in the way of people going through the door or being a tripping hazard when walking nearby.

Let’s look at some ways to discourage your dog from sleeping by the door. 

Don’t Provide a Positive Response

As mentioned before, positive reinforcement encourages a behavior. If you don’t want your dog to sleep or lay by the door, try not to give a positive reaction to it. Take the praise from the action and your dog will realize that you don’t care for their actions at that moment. Many dog owners know that dogs aim to please their owners so any sign of encouragement will likely result in the dogs repeating the behavior. You could try praising your dog when away from the door.

Give Your Dog a Spot of Their own

In connection to the ideas of sleeping by the door to be comfortable and marking territory, your dog might enjoy having a little space to call their own. 

One option many dog owners go for is having a crate for their dog. There are many benefits to having a crate for your dog such as it being a cozy den and a place of privacy and security. And even though it can take puppies some time to learn how to use their crate, it’s almost always worth the effort to train them.

Having a crate may not be the best option for everyone so another option to give a corner or other small space where your dog can bring their toys and rest. A bed and a few things to keep them interested might just be all your dog needs!

Don’t Punish Your Dog for Laying or Sleeping by the Door

It is important to remember that punishing your dog or giving any negative reaction to a certain behavior is not an effective way to teach your dog. Your dog aims to please you and they don’t know the different between what’s right and what’s wrong, but training and patience can strengthen your connection with your dog.

Punishment is often connected to fear. While some people think punishment shows their dogs that they’re “the leader of the pack,” a study broken down by dog psychologist, Dr. Coren, supports the idea that punishment can actually lead to an increase in aggression. The study also shows that a more gentle corrective sound like, “schhtt” can be more effective compared to a physical punishment.

Closing Thoughts

Having a strong understanding of your dog can lead to a great companionship! By understanding why our dogs do certain things like sleeping by the door, we can find ways to communicate with them and help them live their best lives as our best friends!