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Let’s face it, our dogs are weird and they do strange things, quite often. Excess energy and boredom can make our dogs do unusual things like randomly getting the zoomies before bedtime or trying to play at odd hours of the day. You also might find your dog lying down or even falling asleep in weird places.
Dogs are good at finding unusual places to sleep. It is amazing how tightly a giant breed like a Great Dane can fit under furniture, or how much space a tiny chihuahua can take up spreading themselves out in a sunbeam.
But why is your dog sleeping or laying in such unusual places?
Most of the time dogs lie in strange places because they find it comforting. Dogs will sleep in weird tight places not only because they enjoy it, but when they are stressed, scared, or sick. You might also find your dog lying in unusual places when the weather changes to regulate their body temperature.
So let’s take a look at some reasons your dog is laying down in unusual places, and what it could mean if they are suddenly exhibiting this behavior. Is your dog just weird or are they incredibly smart and staying cool on a hot summer day?
We will also explore some solutions to help you change their behavior if your dog is sleeping in strange places that are problematic.
Why Is My Dog Sleeping Or Laying In Weird Places?
So your dog makes a habit of sleeping in strange places? If it is not new behavior, your dog probably just likes their unusual napping spots!
We will explore why your dog regularly lays down in strange places; from their natural denning instinct to their need to be close to you for emotional support (for you and your dog).
Reason 1. Your Dog Is Denning
Has your dog found a new place they like to sleep and it is a cramped tight spot? There are some weird spots that your dog might find perfectly acceptable to lie down.
It could be under the bed, which would be a good spot for privacy and maybe to hide toys or bones they want to save for later. Laying under your desk is a strange spot too, but it allows your dog to hide and still be close to you, especially if you work from home!
If your dog laying or sleeping in these unusual kinds of places, they could be denning; a perfectly normal behavior that many dog exhibit. Some dogs make real dens by digging holes and laying in them.
Denning is reminiscent of your dog’s wolf ancestors. Wolves like to dig a den (under a tree, a boulder, a natural cave) for safety when they are preparing to give birth, so while it may sound strange to us humans, a den is their first experience and home. Female dogs exhibit the same denning behavior when they are whelping.
This is why ethical breeders always make sure they build a proper whelping box for pregnant females, otherwise, they might end up laying down in weird places like under a porch to give birth.
Therefore, if your dog’s first worldly experience is in a den-like space where it is safe, it is no wonder they like to find weird cramped spaces to lay down and sleep.
Does your dog like to sleep in unusual places like their crate with the door open, under your kitchen table, or laying down in your closet? It is probably normal denning behavior to make your dog feels safe and comfortable, even if you think it is weird!
Reason 2. Your Dog Is Reacting To Your Emotions
As we have already established, dogs might lie down and sleep in weird places simply because of their denning instinct. It is safe and comfortable. So it is no wonder that your dog might start seeking out strange places to lie down if they are stressed or scared, even if it is because of our stress.
It is not surprising that dogs might find an unusual place to sleep when we are anxious. We have a strong connection with our canine companions and dogs might pick up on our stress. Often, our dogs mimic our emotions: we are happy they get excited, and when we are stressed they might hide in a weird place until we feel better.
Some dogs will try to make you feel better by not only laying down in unusual positions but laying in silly positions like on their backs to distract you. Dogs want to make us feel better and if they know how to make us laugh or calm down they will pull out all the tricks. This is why dogs make such good therapy animals.
This video shows therapy dog Fraser helping patients at a hospital feel better.
Reason 3. Your Dog Is Scared Or Stressed
It is not always your fault your dog is anxious. Loud noises like fireworks, changes in routine, or turmoil in their home life can cause fear and anxiety in your dog. While some dogs become clingy when nervous, others will choose to find an unusual place to lie down and wait out the scary situation.
Something that might help calm down your dog if they laying down in a weird place because they are scared or anxious is to encourage them to choose the crate as their safe space.
Use positive methods like counterconditioning and desensitization to help make the crate more comfortable for them and not only ease their fears but distracts them from what they are worried about. Using treats in the crate is a great tool, as well as crate appropriate toys.
However, if your dog is still anxious, they could be suffering from general anxiety. Other symptoms of dog anxiety include:
- Excessive panting
- Accidents in the house
- Destructive behaviors
If you are worried your dog has anxiety, please reach out to your veterinarian or a trainer for help.
Reason 4. Your Dog is Trying To Be Near You
It is great information that dogs naturally like to lay down or sleep in weird cramped places because they like the feeling of denning. But places like between your legs are not den-like, but an unusual and inconvenient spot (albeit cute spot) for your dog to lay down.
It might be sweet when your dog sleeps behind you no matter how strange a place, but it also sounds like a tripping hazard.
You might have a velcro dog, who is desperate to be near you no matter what unusual place it forces them to lie down. A velcro dog is a clingy dog who always wants to be near you and might end up sleeping in some weird place to be near you.
Some breeds, like Bulldogs, are more likely to be velcro dogs than others. Usually, these are dogs that were bred to be lapdogs or to work closely with their human handler. Meanwhile, independent working dogs like Great Pyrenees are less likely to become velcro dogs.
If you believe your dog’s attachment is excessive or unhealthy, they might have separation anxiety. According to veterinarians Debra Horwitz and Gary Landsberg: “Separation anxiety describes dogs that are unusually over-attached or dependent on family members.”
Besides laying down in weird places to be as close to you as possible, you might see symptoms similar to general anxiety, especially if your dog thinks you are about to leave.
Why Is My Dog Suddenly Sleeping Or Laying In Weird Places?
Not all dogs like to sleep in weird den-like spaces or lay themselves down in the most unusual places to be near you. You might have the kind of dog that prefers to stretch out in the middle of a room that you are not in.
So a dog who suddenly starts to lie down in strange places like cold floors, corners, or under furniture might be a bit alarming. Let’s look at a couple of reasons your dog might start laying down or sleeping in weird places out of the blue.
Reason 5. Seasonal Changes And Temperature Regulation
Dogs regulate their temperature through panting and the sweat glands in their paws. But sometimes dogs need a little extra help keeping warm or cooling down.
Anyone who experiences cold winters with a short-haired dog or a small breed dog probably has a collection of jackets, coats, and booties to help keep your pooch warm. Where I live we experience extremely harsh winters and my chihuahua probably has more jackets and house sweaters than me!
While my chihuahua might love living somewhere where he can lay in the warm sun all day, fluffier dogs like huskies might not do so well in hot weather without a little extra help to keep cool. They will need consistent access to shade and water to help regulate their body temperature.
Your Dog Is Hot
So if your dog suddenly starts laying down in weird places, it could be because they are trying to regulate their body temperature. What are some of the strange places they are suddenly starting to sleep?
The tile floor of a kitchen or bathroom is probably the coolest surface in your house. The tile retains cold temperatures, making it ideal for sleeping dogs that get hot easily, especially in the summer.
And some dogs run hot no matter what the season is and will choose to lay in the cooler parts of the house, and they can discover some unusual places. Is there a vent in that weird corner of the house? Maybe they are enjoying the air conditioning.
Your Dog Is Cold
However, when you have the heat blasting, they could be sleeping in a strange corner of the house enjoying the warmth. In the winter, you might notice your dog lying in some unusual places to stay warm.
My dogs slept on the stone in front of our fireplace consistently until I finally took the hint and placed a dog bed there so they could be warm and comfy.
On a cold sunny day, they might follow the sun around, putting them in weird positions like laying against walls, on hard floors, or under furniture, soaking up the warmth from the sun. Do not worry, your dog knows not to look at the sun and will move before they become overheated.
In this video, you can see three dogs laying in weird positions to place warm up in a sunbeam.
While it might seem like they are extra snug, dogs of all sizes will lay on your stomach to steal your warmth. Yes, they are using you, but it is very sweet to have such a cuddling companion on a cold winter day.
Lastly, if you are worried about your dog’s ability to regulate their body temperature, or they have to be confined and cannot reach their favorite strange place to lay or sleep, there are some great solutions.
If it is hot, you can freeze some yogurt or wet dog food in a bone or interactive chew toy, or you can place a fan in front of their crate. And for those cold chilly days, pile on the blankets or invest in a good plug-in heated dog bed to keep your best friend warm.
Reason 6. Your Dog Is Not Feeling Good
Sometimes a sudden change of behavior can be a sign of a health issue. This includes them suddenly laying down or sleeping in weird places. If they are suddenly laying down on walks or sleeping on hardwood floors when they have always enjoyed their comfortable beds, it could be a sign that they are injured or in pain.
Older dogs and giant breeds are more prone to joint stiffness and arthritis and if they are laying down in strange places, they might be trying to get more comfortable. Your veterinarian can prescribe your dog anti-inflammatory or pain medication if your dog is hurting.
Laying down in unusual cramped places, especially if denning is a new behavior for your dog, might also mean they are feeling sick. Other signs your dog is ill include:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Lack of appetite
- Accidents in the house
- Bloated stomach
- Stiffness or trouble standing up
If you are worried about your dog sleeping in strange places, or they are showing any other symptoms, please go see your veterinarian immediately!
Should I Be Worried?
Laying down or sleeping in weird places should only worry you if it is a new behavior, and you should keep an eye on it.
Old dogs have normal stiffness and might seek out new and unusual places to sleep to become more comfortable. Injured young dogs might show the same behavior, and catching problems like Hip Dysplasia or a TPLO injury early means a faster recovery time and more time adventuring with your best friend.
Lastly, if you think your dog is laying in weird places because they are sick and trying to hide from you, please make sure you take it seriously. Especially if they are showing any of the other symptoms listed above!
How Can I Change This Behavior?
Before trying to change this behavior, first rule out any medical issues. If they are sleeping in strange places because they are sore or sick, they might need a little extra attention from your veterinarian.
However, if they are young and healthy and are laying down in weird places that are problematic, (for example under the porch, under the dining room table, or in a room or closet they might accidentally get locked in), then you can use positive reinforcement methods to work on a couple of solutions.
If your dog likes denning, try crate training. Many dogs come to love laying in their crate and will choose to sleep in there rather than in strange places.
Another alternative behavior you can train with your dog if they are laying in weird places is mat training. Kikopup shows you how to train your dog to automatically go to their bed in this video, but you could also use a blanket, rug, or towel.
Whether they seeking out the safest spot to nap or finding the coolest part of the house in the summer, our dogs are good at finding weird places to lay down or sleep.
If your dog is seeking out unusual cramped tight spaces to lay down in, it is probably a denning instinct they inherited from their wolf ancestors. However, what if your dog is trying to find weird places to sleep in, seemingly at random?
They could be trying to regulate their body temperature, or are sore and trying to find the most comfortable place to lie down, even if it might seem strange to us.
As long your dog is not sick, they are not putting themselves in dangerous situations, and they are not annoying you; there is no harm in letting your dog lay down or sleep in unusual places. Enjoy your dog being a dog, and let their personality shine through!