It’s always great to end your day snuggled up with your dog, but what if your dog leaves the room when it’s close to bedtime?
When you turn off the lights, you may find yourself wondering why your dog is sleeping away from you instead of sprawled on your lap like you’d prefer.
The answer to why your dog isn’t sleeping with you anymore may be more complicated than you think.
So why would your dog stop sleeping with you? They’re likely responding to an external factor, like a change in their sleeping environment, or an internal factor, like a health issue or simply a bad mood. You can get your dog back in bed by figuring out what changed but you can also try several techniques to encourage them to sleep with you.
If you’ve noticed a sudden change in your dog’s behavior and they’re now sleeping away from you, it’s probably worth reaching out to your vet. Dogs, like people, have particular sleeping habits. A sudden change may be cause for alarm.
But if your dog has always slept away from you, there’s likely a reason. It could be the simple fact that your dog likes sleeping away from you. Or it could be something you and your dog can work on before you say goodbye to snuggle time for good.
If your dog has always slept away from you, there are some tricks you can use to help them want to sleep closer, but they may just not be into it.
Not only is sleeping with your dog potentially a very healthy habit, but it can also be downright adorable too. Check out this awe-inducing video of some kids and dogs having a very successful naps together:
Your Dog is Suddenly Sleeping Away from You
If your dog was frequently napping by your side and you’ve noticed that they aren’t anymore, the first thing you should do is watch your dog and ask yourself a few questions while observing them:
- Do they look scared?
- Do they look like they are in pain?
- Has anything suddenly happened that could have caused this (i.e., a loud noise or thunderstorm)?
- Has anything happened in the last few days that may have changed their behavior (i.e., relatives coming for a holiday, a family member moving to college or otherwise leaving the household)?
- Does your dog have any ongoing health issues that may be causing the change in behavior?
Like I mentioned before, dogs have regular sleeping habits, just like people. A change in their behavior is a result of a change for them, either external or internal. Because it can be hard to pin down right away, a visit to your veterinarian is usually a good idea.
If you’re like me, you and your dog likely spend a lot of time together in the same space, so it’s probably pretty easy for you to pinpoint if your dog is sleeping away from you because you made a loud noise dropping a pan on the floor.
Some causes for a sudden departure from the bedroom may be harder to pinpoint. There are a lot of external influences that can drive your dog from the room in a moment.
What Just Happened?
Besides the “I dropped a pan and my dog ran away” scenario, there are a lot of subtle things that can happen to change sleeping behavior.
Dogs have very sensitive noses and ears, so your dog may be sleeping away from you in order to get away from a distracting smell or sound. Even something as simple as cooking a new food or watching a new TV show that your dog finds abrasive may be enough to drive them out of the room to sleep somewhere else.
Closely monitor the environment your dog is trying to sleep in. Most of the time, you should be able to pinpoint something around that they are trying to avoid.
Where Are They Sleeping?
If your dog is reactive to thunderstorms, you may want to just check the weather forecast. Your pup may be reacting to an incoming storm and may just be trying to find a safe place, like your bathroom.
If it’s a hot night, your dog may try to find relief on a cool surface, like a tile floor instead of a bundle of blankets right next to you.
Dogs have an average temperature of well over 100 degrees and, unlike humans, can only pant their way to cool relief. That, or move to a cooler location. If your dog seems hot, you can try cooling off your bed to encourage them to get back in. You can find dog-specific cooling pads on Amazon that you can place in your bed. Once your dog realizes that the bed has a cool spot, they may be more interested in sharing a good night’s rest!
Unless you have a very small dog, it’s unlikely that your dog is trying to find a warmer place. If you’re not too cold, they probably aren’t too cold either.
Watch closely where your dog goes when they decide to sleep away from you. If they are going to a particular spot, or always leaving a particular spot, you may be able to identify what’s driving them away.
Who (Or What) Is Around?
Your dog may be sleeping away from you because there are new people around. If you and your dog usually end your days watching TV alone on the couch, it shouldn’t surprise you that your dog may want to sleep elsewhere if you’re having friends over.
Dogs can hear and smell things in a way that people cannot. If it looks like your dog is reacting to something that you can’t see, it may be that they are sensing something or someone outside of your house, or maybe something in your walls.
Hopefully, it’s simple enough for you to identify some outside influence that’s caused the sudden change in your dog’s behavior, but if you cannot identify an outside influence, it’s probable that your dog is going through something internally.
Identifying and correcting internal influences on your dog may be difficult. It’s at this point that you should reach out to your vet before moving forward trying to change your dog’s sleeping habits, as it could be a sign of something serious.
Aging can cause your dog to suddenly sleep away from you. As dogs get older their sleep requirements may change.
“Senior” dogs, which typically include all dogs over the age of 7, need more sleep than mature adult dogs. Lazing on the couch next to you, eyes half-closed, may have been enough sleep when they were younger. But now, they may be seeking out a location to get a deeper, more restful night’s sleep.
Keep in mind too that dogs are susceptible to many of the old-age syndromes that people are, like dementia. Dementia may cause your dog to need to sleep more than normal, or sleep at different times than they used to.
If your aging dog is sleeping away from you and otherwise seems perfectly happy, it’s probably best to just let them sleep where they want.
New or Ongoing Health Issues
Not all dogs need to be old to experience health issues. You may already be aware of an ongoing or chronic illness that your dog has that may be flaring up or otherwise causing them more discomfort than before.
Sleeping disorders are pretty uncommon in dogs, but they do happen and can spring up at any point during your dog’s life. Your dog may have developed narcolepsy, insomnia, or sleep apnea, which may be causing them to sleep away from you.
If your dog is sleeping away from you, though, it’s probably not a specific sleeping disorder. Instead, your dog is likely responding to internal physical discomfort that is causing your dog to try new sleeping positions and locations.
Any number of physical ailments can disrupt your dog’s usual sleeping patterns and make them want to sleep away from you. These can range from the simple, like tooth pain, to the serious, like kidney failure. It’s very important not to take any risks with your dog’s health and to get any abnormal behavior checked out by your vet.
Personality and Behavior
Dogs have deep and complex personalities, so it may be that your dog is simply not in the mood to sleep with you. Make sure you’re giving your dog enough space to be themselves and make choices about what they want for their nights’ sleep. Just like with people, you may not always understand your dog’s decisions, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t worth respecting
The above outlines some of the main reasons your dog may have suddenly started sleeping away from you. I need to stress again that a sudden change in your dog’s behavior may be a sign of a serious change in your dog’s overall health, so you should absolutely consult with your vet to make sure nothing is wrong with your pup.
But what if this isn’t a sudden change but instead something that has always been the case? You may be one of the many people out there pining to sleep with a dog who always wanders off at bedtime.
Your Dog has Always Slept Away From You
If your dog has always slept away from you and you want to convince them that you’re a safe and comforting presence during bedtime, you may be able to tweak the situation in order to convince your dog to sleep near you.
Bedtime should be about creating comforting energy between both you and your dog. Make sure you’re both comfortable and ready to sleep through the night.
Make A Mood
It may seem like you’re setting up a romantic evening, but you probably already know how easy it can be to get your dog amped up with some funny sounds and playful moves.
When it gets towards bedtime, consider shutting down the screens, bringing your dog inside for the last time, dimming the lights, and generally creating a soothing and peaceful atmosphere that is conducive to peace and sleep. This can help make sure you’re both in the mood to sleep around the same time.
Create A Routine
Dogs are creatures of habit and respond best when they have predictable schedules. Set up a regular bedtime for you and your dog so that they know what to expect. Take them outside, give them a special treat, whatever it is that creates a recognizable ritual that your dog can in turn associate with their pre-bedtime routine.
Meet Them Where They Are
Don’t think that you’re going to be able to change these habits simply by coaxing new behaviors from your dog. You may also need to put yourself out there in order to start the process of sleeping with your dog.
If your dog likes to sleep in a certain room, rather than convincing them to come to you, consider moving towards them. You may be surprised how excited your dog is to have you with them in their favorite sleeping spot.
If your dog likes to be close to you but not on the bed or on the couch, consider plopping down next to them on the floor on a comfortable pillow or blanket so you can have some soothing cuddle time while they fall asleep.
Over time you might be able to move their bed closer to yours, then on yours, and before you know it, you’ll be arguing with them over who gets to be the little spoon.
Wear Them Out
This isn’t the most elegant or scientific solution, but it’s a pretty straight-forward one: wear your dog out! Play with them hard, do their favorite activities, and get them completely exhausted.
Obviously, don’t overwork your dog, but if they always want to sleep away from you, just getting them totally exhausted at the end of the day may make their priorities change, especially if you two had a great time at the park together earlier.
Sleeping dogs aren’t picky dogs, so you may be able to convince your dog to stop sleeping away from you just by getting them so worn out that they won’t even care where they plop.
Take It Slow
All the above said, you need to remember that sleep is incredibly important for both you and your dog, and interfering with their sleep patterns can be stressful and make things much harder for them in the long run.
Don’t force anything, and make sure you are constantly observing your dog for signs of negative stress. Convincing your dog that the bed isn’t SO scary may be a positive form of stress that’s helpful for them in the long run, but if your dog is afraid, even irrationally, don’t force it.
It’s a process, and if you care enough about your dog that you want to sleep with them, you should be understanding that some things need to be learned at their own pace.
When to Stop
If your dog is stressed out, losing sleep, and night after night still wants to sleep away from you, it may be time to accept that your dog may just not be a snuggler.
Don’t take it hard or think your dog doesn’t care about you like you thought they did. As we’ve discussed, there are a huge range of potential causes for your dog wanting to sleep away from you, and it’s probably nothing personal.
Keep your dog’s, and your own, best interests in mind when you’re trying to convince them to stop sleeping away from you. It should be about getting something new and positive out of the relationship, not stopping your dog from doing what it wants to do naturally.
What’s the Best Way for My Dog to Sleep?
Dogs sleep in very much the same ways that people do. They like routine, comfy, cool beds, and a general feeling that where they are sleeping will be safe all through the night.
Dogs differ so much in their particular habits and values that it’s impossible to say what the best way for all dogs to sleep is, but so long as the basics I mentioned above are met, the “best” way for your dog to sleep is whatever works best for you and for your dog.
If your dog is sleeping away from you, it’s possible to convince them to sleep closer. It’s important to make sure that the cause for their behavior isn’t something serious and that you don’t force them into a situation that they don’t want. But through careful steps with a lot of love and patience, you and your dog may be life-long bed buddies.