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Our dogs are most certainly creatures of habit. Whether it’s reminding you when you’re a few minutes late for their dinner, anticipating your morning alarm, or sleeping in the same spot every night our dogs are often firmly set in their routine and just as focused on being in sync with our routine.
It’s one of the many reasons that we love them but when our dog’s routine sudden changes we tend to notice. Especially when it means that dogs suddenly shift from sleeping in their bed to wanting to sleep with us in our bed!
So why does your dog suddenly want to sleep with you?
Dogs may suddenly jump into bed with you as a result of colder temperatures or loud noises in their usual sleeping areas. But the behavior could also be related to more complex factors like jealously, anxiety, fear, or even your dog’s ability to detect illness. Context clues can help you figure out the best explanation.
Before we dive into the list of reasons, let’s clear up some background information on your dog’s sleeping instincts and how you can figure out which explanation makes the most sense for your pup.
But if you want to skip ahead and check out the reasons you can skip ahead using the table of contents below:
Understanding Which Explanation Makes Sense For Your Dog
We’re going to look at several reasons why dogs may suddenly want to sleep with you but without context clues, it can be difficult to figure out which explanation makes the most sense.
To get to the bottom of a dog’s behavior change, focus on their body language and what changed within the house. While there’s more to consider than just those two factors, these two factors will give you the most information about what’s going on.
Is your dog suddenly pacing, panting, or just putting out stressed vibes?
Then anxiety or fear could be motivating the sudden sleeping change.
Instead, if your dog is snug as a bug in a rug and out like a light then it may be that they’re just looking for the warmest spot in the house and they’ve realized it’s your bed.
Canine body language is a complex topic that’s beyond the scope of this article so if you’re looking to learn more about the often subtle signs of a stressed-out dog check out this exceptional video which can get you up speed:
Once you’ve got a grip on your dog’s body language, you’ll want to consider what changed within the house.
If winter is in full swing and your house is several degrees warmer at night, then your dog may just be looking for a warmer spot for bedtime.
But if a new guest has arrived or you’ve adopted a new pet then jealously could be at play! Try your best to look at things from your dog’s perspective to figure out what’s going on.
9 Reasons Why Your Dog Suddenly Wants To Sleep With You
Now that we know how to figure out which reason makes the most sense for your dog, let’s break down some of the most likely explanations for your canine’s behavior.
Reason 1: Your Dog May Be Anxious Or Fearful
For your dog, you’re more than just a member of the pack.
Unlike a normal pack-mate, you’re able to open doors, produce food in a matter of seconds and handle an endless number of tasks that make your pup’s life better!
So when you’re dog is feeling anxious, scared, or otherwise overwhelmed it makes sense that you’ll be the one they turn to for comfort and security.
Obvious examples of this are things like thunder and fireworks which can lead dogs to hide in corners, on the bathroom floor, and of course in your bed. But reasons for anxiety aren’t always so clear cut and it could even be related to things that you can’t see, hear, or smell. Even a dog’s reaction can be confusing and some dogs will simply hide while others may choose self-soothing behaviors like licking the bed or sheets.
This is one of the situations where body language is critical for figuring out what’s going on. If your dog seems like they’re trying to get as close as possible to you or is showing signs of stress then fear may explain the sudden change in sleeping habits.
Reason 2: You May Not Be Feeling Well
If you’re like me, then you do everything in your power to pretend you’re not actually sick.
Maybe you attribute your stuffy nose up to allergies or your scratchy throat up to an open window somewhere in the house but if you’re not feeling well your dog is likely to know. Dogs have a wide range of tools for detecting illness in us from changes in the sound of our voice to a change in how we smell.
You won’t be able to detect these changes (at least in most cases) but your dog’s 300 million olfactory receptors certainly can. For a little context, we have 6 million olfactory receptors which means there’s a whole world of smell that we’re missing out on- including illness-related changes in smell.
According to The Atlantic, once your dog determines that you’re feeling ill they may decide that you need their help “he or she might turn into the guard dog you never knew you had. In these situations, a dog insists on being the closest living being to you when you’re sick or tries to prevent others from accessing you while you convalesce.” That can be a good or bad thing but in most cases, we appreciate the company.
So if your dog has suddenly decided to jump into bed with you, consider how you’re feeling!
Reason 3: Your Dog May Not Be Feeling Well
On the other hand, it could be your dog that isn’t feeling their best, and illness in dogs can lead to a long list of sudden behavior changes.
Between different dogs and different illnesses, there can be a huge range of canine reactions. Some dogs will decide to hide away from people and avoid affection while others will suddenly become little velcro dogs that never want to be left alone which means suddenly sleeping with you.
Look for signs of illness or other behavior changes to get a better idea of what may be happening but if you’re ever unsure it’s a good idea to consult your veterinarian.
Reason 4: A Change In Temperature
Even with the availability of modern air conditioning systems, our homes are still usually colder in the winter and hotter in the summer. Just like us, our dogs may be more interested in snuggling up under the covers during cold weather and more likely to stretch out when things are warmer.
That means a sudden change in temperature could explain your dog’s interest in sleeping in your bed. It doesn’t have to be to shift from one season to another and even an unseasonably cool day could motivate some dogs to suddenly jump into bed- at least for the night.
Reason 5: Your Dog Just Realized How Great The Bed Can Be
Your dog may not have realized just how great the bed can be until recently.
If your bed is a bit taller or your dog is smaller, it’s possible that your dog never really looked up and got a good view of what’s up there. While some dogs love looking up at the world around them for others anything above their eye line can be a world of mystery.
Another dog or another pet could have jumped up on the bed to spark your pup’s interest or for whatever reason, your dog could have decided to explore a bit more. I know that this explanation may make our dogs sound a bit dumber than they really are, but just as you might decide to take a new route to work one day our dogs may decide to suddenly explore what’s on the bed.
But whatever motivates our dogs to explore, once they realize how comfortable the bed is it’s all downhill from there and canines may suddenly decide that the bed is simply the best place to sleep!
Reason 6: You Or Your Pup Need Protection
Well, you might not need protection but your dog could think that you do.
In the wild, wolves sleep with “one eye open” to stay safe. While they don’t literally sleep with their eyes open, studies have found that wolves are more alert while they sleep and those instincts are still alive in well in your dog.
That means your dog knows that sleeping can be a time of great vulnerability and they may decide that you need their help staying safe while you’re asleep. Once again, this is where context clues will be critically important while you try to figure out what might cause your dog to be on high alert.
However, that’s not always so easy to figure out. Many people are familiar with their dog’s habit of growling or barking at seemingly nothing but in reality, dogs are almost always reacting to something and it can take some work to figure out what it is.
When it comes to context clues, you’ll obviously want to look for any sudden changes in the environment that your dog may be perceiving as a threat. These could be new noises, people or smells.
But you’ll also want to pay close attention to your dog’s body language to see if this explanation makes sense. Dogs that are focused on protecting you may sleep lighter and quickly become alert at the slightest noise.
On other hand, some dogs may be turning to you for protection! It can be difficult to tell the difference between a practicing guard dog and a pup that’s looking to you for protection since both situations will lead dogs to be on high alert.
Reason 7: Your Dog Could Be Dealing With Jealousy
Dogs do in fact show signs of jealousy and if they have to suddenly share your attention it could lead them into your bed in an effort to secure their spot as number one!
One study noted that “jealous behaviour emerges in dogs, and it is functionally similar to that in children observed in similar situations.”
Yep, your dog’s jealous behavior isn’t much different from a child’s in some cases and so it’s not hard to see how suddenly sleeping in the bed could be a response to a new baby, pet or any other creature that’s taking away your attention.
Reason 8: Your Bed Has Become The Best Option
This explanation can be a bit broad, but if something has changed in the home then your bed may suddenly be the best option for your dog.
We’ve looked at some specific examples like changes in temperature but it could be just about any endless number of environmental changes that have made your bed more appealing or your dog’s usually sleeping area less appealing.
Maybe there’s more noise around their normal sleeping spot or there’s just not as much sunshine as there used to be.
So think carefully about your dog’s previous sleeping spot and what may have changed about that has suddenly made you and your bed the best option.
Additionally, consider what’s changed about your bed! Have you added a couple of new comforters that make the bed extra comfortable? Or have you changed to a new bed frame that now makes it easier than ever to access?
By looking closely at both your dog’s old sleeping spot and your bed, you can figure out if this explanation makes sense.
Reason 9: Because You Reward The Behavior!
It’s possible that your dog is simply doing what gets them the most positive reinforcement!
While it may not have started the behavior, if your dog decided to crawl into bed on a particularly cool night and they were rewarded with petting, praise, and of course some extra warmth then they’ll probably keep the behavior going. After all, if you wanted to teach your dog to cuddle you’d use positive reinforcement to do it!
This won’t feel quite as sudden as some of the other explanations but it could still lead dogs to go from sleeping on the floor to sleeping in your bed over just a few days.
Should You Worry?
Any sudden behavior change can be a cause for concern in dogs. However, it’s important to realize that as pack animals it’s completely normal for dogs to want to sleep with other members of the pack which usually means you or someone else in the house!
That’s why it’s important to look for other signs and context clues to figure out what’s going on and when you should worry.
For example, if your dog suddenly starts sleeping in your bed while losing some of their appetite then that’s most certainly a cause for concern.
But wanting to sleep in your bed alone isn’t a cause for concern and most folks are more concerned when their dog stops sleeping in their bed with them rather than the other way around! So always look at the bigger picture before jumping to conclusions and if you’re ever unsure it’s never a bad idea to consult your veterinarian.
How To Discourage Your Dog From Sleeping With You
Even though it’s typically not a cause for concern and can even have many benefits, you may still decide that you don’t want your dog to sleep with you.
The first step is to understand what’s motivating your dog to sleep in your bed instead of their usual spots.
That’s where the explanations above can be helpful and we’ve broken down many of the big reasons that drive dogs to your bed. Once you understand what’s motivating your dog, which can sometimes be easier said than done, you can figure out how to modify their behavior.
If it’s something simple like cooler temperatures, then you can upgrade your dog’s bed or add additional bedding for them to snuggle up in. But if something more complex like jealousy is involved then the problem can be a little more difficult to solve.
While you can use techniques like shutting doors, elevating your bed out of reach for your dog, or any other number of strategies these are rarely the best options- especially since your dog only recently decided they want to sleep in your bed. Instead, you’ll want to focus on resolving whatever changed so your dog can go back to their usual sleeping habits.
Dog behavior can seem simple but any close inspection of canine motivations reveals an entire world of complex behaviors where even something as simple as wanting to sleep in bed with you could be caused by complex feelings like jealousy, the detection of illness, or a desire to protect you throughout the night.
Of course, there are plenty of simple explanations as well including simply wanting to sleep somewhere warm or being part of the pack.
But whatever the explanation for the sudden change in sleeping habits, paying close attention to context clues can help you figure out what’s going on!
What do you think? What explanation makes the most sense for your dog?