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Why Does My Dog Sleep With Me? 5 Usual Reasons

Written by: Dogster Team

Last Updated on March 4, 2024 by Dogster Team

dog owner in bed with two cute dogs all sleeping

Why Does My Dog Sleep With Me? 5 Usual Reasons

Any dog owner can appreciate a good round of snuggling with their furry best friend unless their pet’s preferred spot is the bed. Between them being a lead weight on the covers and leaving smelly hair and dander behind, you have enough good reasons to keep your dog off your mattress.

Besides, with all the comfy pet beds, couches, and carpets you have around the house, why would they want to sleep there anyway? Getting to the root of the issue is the first step in reclaiming your sleeping spot. Discover the top five reasons your dog sleeps with you so you can start figuring out a more comfortable nighttime routine.

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The 5 Reasons Why Your Dog Sleeps With You

1. They Love and Depend on You

The primary reason dogs want to sleep with you is because they are dependent on you. As social animals, dogs need a feeling of belonging with their affiliates, and thanks to domestication, they’re friendlier and more drawn to people than other dogs.

The dog-owner relationship mirrors that of an infant and mother, with dogs showing a similar need for security and certainty from their handler. Cuddling up in bed is just one of the many ways they reinforce this dynamic, using it as a chance to bond and feel safe. People are their caregivers and best friends, and dogs want every opportunity to receive comfort, affection, and reassurance.

Young man sleeping with a dog
Image Credit: asia.marangio, Shutterstock

2. You Reinforce the Behavior

The excitement of getting a dog, especially a new puppy, can lead to rash and irresponsible decisions. They’re too cute trying to get up on the couch, chair, and bed to snuggle with you, so how can you resist giving them a helping hand?

Those minor actions can seem insignificant at the time, but it won’t take long for them to create deep-rooted habits in a mature dog. If your dog is sleeping with you, it’s because you allowed it to happen by not establishing boundaries from the outset. Now, your dog expects a choice of where they sleep and will likely show considerable irritation if you try to set new limits.

3. One of You Is Ill

If your dog sporadically becomes extra-cuddly at night, they may be reacting to something rather than taking up a new habit. Your dog might suddenly start sleeping with you when they sense you are ill or if they are feeling under the weather.

One of you is in need, and your dog takes it upon themselves to seek or provide comfort and safety by climbing into bed with you.

woman and dog sleeping together
Image Credit: Albina Gavrilovic

4. They’re Showing a Protective Instinct

Today’s dogs are a far cry from their wolf ancestors thanks to thousands of years of domestication, but their animal instincts will never disappear completely.

Like their wild relatives, dogs prefer sleeping with their family, enjoying the warmth and protection of the group. Sleeping with you is one way they can keep you safe while ensuring their security.

5. Your Bed Is More Comfortable

No matter how much you love your pet, it’s unlikely that an owner doesn’t have the most comfortable bed in the house. When you spend several hundred dollars on your mattress and only a fraction of that on your dog’s, it’s easy to see why they’ll go for your bed. It’s warmer, softer, and spacious enough to let your dog stretch out fully, and they may be hard to remove until their pet bed gets a serious comfort upgrade.

Man sleeping with jack russell terrier dog in his hands
Image Credit: evrymmnt, Shutterstock

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Should I Let My Dog Sleep with Me?

Although sleeping with your dog can be comforting, drawing a line may be the more responsible decision. Adding another body to the bed, especially a dog, creates several hygiene concerns, as pet hair, dander, and bodily oils make their way into the bedding and the mattress.

Odors, allergens, and associated illnesses may become problematic, leading to a more frequent cleaning schedule. Beyond the cleanliness factor, having a dog in the bed can hurt your sleep quality. The primary issue is that a dog’s sleep cycle doesn’t align with a human’s.

While the owner sleeps continuously, their dog averages 20 nightly sleep cycles involving waking periods roughly three times hourly. Between their frequent waking and constant alertness, dogs can easily disturb their owner’s sleep. Suffering from less efficient slumber, you’ll likely feel more tired and less productive during your waking hours.

Letting your dog sleep with you may not be beneficial for them either. Fostering independence is crucial in preventing separation anxiety and attachment issues. Although sleeping together won’t guarantee they’ll develop stress problems later in life, crate training and sleeping in separate rooms is one of several ways to help your dog gain confidence to spend time alone.

senior golden retriever dog sleeping
Image Credit: Yobab, Shutterstock

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A dog’s desire to sleep with their owner, protector, and closest family member is easy to understand. The challenge comes in discouraging the behavior. While plenty of individuals find comfort in co-sleeping, others sacrifice a healthy nighttime routine to accommodate their pets.

As much as we want to always be there for our dogs, there are millions of ways to show your love. Give your dog all the affection during the day, and you shouldn’t lose any sleep over having your dog take up a separate bed.

Featured Image Credit: Javier Brosch, Shutterstock

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