Does your dog always look for a cozy position next to you in bed? It prefers to sleep in the same room? Does it sleep next to your feet or head? In any case, the reasons for this behavior are related to the type of the relationship you have established with your dog. A dog will always sleep with the person he appreciates most, and if you are one of them you must feel very lucky!
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Why Does My Dog want to Sleep Next Me?
There are many reasons that explain why your dog sleeps next to you, in the same room or on your pillow. However, all of them can be traced back to dog attachment toward human caretakers. Yes, this relationship that we consider exclusive to humans also occurs with animals. Especially with those pets that have undergone a domestication process such as dogs and cats.
A study carried out in 1998, replicated Ainsworth’s Strange Situation Test on dogs. The test was initially devised in the 1970s to observe attachment in children within the context of caregiver relationships. Fifty-one owner-dog pairs were observed in the 1998 study. The results showed that the majority of dogs exhibited behaviors typical of attachment that a child shows toward its parents.
Now we know that your dog sleeps next to you mainly because he feels attached to you. Next we are going to describe in more detail what motivates this kind of behavior.
1. Dogs Are Social Animals
The first thing you must know to better understand why your dog sleeps next to you is that it is a social animal. Dogs are direct descendants of the gray wolves, social animals who live in packs. Oftentimes, wolves sleep right out in the open in a circle or a group. The dog is not a solitary animal either. In fact, loneliness can have detrimental effects on its health. Therefore, this curious co-sleeping behavior is actually very natural to dogs.
If you live with more than one dog and the relationship between them is good, you have surely observed that they never sleep alone. Most either sleep with their human companions or sleep together in the same bed or in the same room.
2. Your Dog Wants to Protect You
Since the dog is a social animal who thrives when living in a group, it has a predisposition to watch over its pack members. The dog cares for his human companions and communicates with them through its own language. In this way, regardless of other reasons, co-sleeping fulfills an important function, to protect each other.
Sleep is one of the moments in which we are most exposed and therefore, we are most vulnerable. For this reason, many dogs prefer to sleep near or next to their caregivers in order to protect them if something goes wrong. It is a natural behavior of the canines. If for whatever reason don’t want your dog sleeping in your bed, place its bed next to yours.
3. Your Dog Feels Secure Next to You
If your dog chooses to sleep next to you, it always means that you project security and confidence. It feels comfortable next to you and regards you as a figure of reference which he can trust and follow. Therefore, it is not surprising that in addition to sharing the moments of sleep with you, your dog also follows you everywhere.
4. Dogs Get Cold
Dogs love to be warm. Due to this reason many prefer to sleep next to their human companions or get under the blanket to the warmest place in bed. To keep themselves warm at night, dogs take advantage of your body temperature by cuddling with you. Dogs engage in a similar behavior during the day as well. They usually enjoy laying in the areas of the house that get most of the sunlight. They also enjoy sunbathing in direct sunlight in the yard.
5. Your Dog Doesn’t Like Its Bed
Have you recently checked whether your dog’s bed is comfortable? If it is not, it is normal for the dog to seek a more comfortable place to sleep in. For example, your bed, a sofa or a pillow. In such cases, it is best to acquire a more comfortable bed. Then you should place it next to yours and leave a blanket to ensure that the dog will be able to keep itself warm.
6. Your Dog Is Showing Affection
In short, if your dog sleeps next to you, it means that he adores you. Your loyal companion just loves to feel your warmth, it feels safe near you, and wants to protect you. Co-sleeping is one of the greatest demonstrations of your dog’s love and affection. It also helps strengthen the bond between the two of you. Even if the dog’s bed is uncomfortable, if it does not care for its caregivers, it will never sleep next to them.
While the reasons behind this dog behavior are absolutely wonderful, could it be bad for us to sleep next to our dogs? We will explain it below.
Is It Bad to Sleep With My Dog?
Co-sleeping is a habit that can be positive for both of you as long as some general considerations are taken into account. For example, it is very important to maintain proper hygiene of the pet, especially after walks. If we don’t, all the dirt on their feet will get into our bed and onto us. We must take the same care with their hair. We need to brush it daily to control shedding to keep our sheets hair-free.
Also, we must not neglect preventive measures, since there are parasites that dogs can transmit to humans, such as fleas and ticks. In this way, we will have to treat the animal following a veterinarian’s instructions to avoid the presence of these parasites.
Apart from hygiene, we must consider whether co-sleeping really provides adequate rest for the dog and ourselves. Depending on the dimensions of the bed and our position in it, it may not be the most recommended practice. If this is the case, you can always place the dog’s bed next to yours. That way you dog will sleep in the same room with you, feeling safe and protected.
However, if the dog suffers from separation anxiety, sleeping next to your dog is not good because it reinforces negative behavior. In these cases, it is necessary to go to a canine anxiety expert or ethologist to treat the underlying problem. Simply preventing co-sleeping is not the only solution.