It’s one of those adorable things we get dreamy-eyed about when we see it. Seeing a dog wrapped and tucked in under some covers is something that gives all that giggly, cute inspiring effect. But why really would your dog like to sleep under the covers, do they know it looks cute, or are they doing it for some other reason? Is it to feel warm? Or maybe they just want to feel secure by you. The way they are carrying on, is this something to be encouraged, and more importantly, is this safe for them?
The answer to the question “Why does my dog like to sleep under the covers?” is one or a combination of these reasons: 1. They find doing so comfortable 2. They feel safer under the cover 3. They have separation Anxiety 4. You have encouraged the behavior 5. They are fearful 6. It’s a behavior they inherited and 7. An event that happened in their lives.
Now that you have an overview of the reasons why your dog would like to sleep under the covers, you need to consider what makes each one a possibility, once you understand this it would be easy for you to decide the next line of action based on what will be good for both you and your dog.
1.They find doing so comfortable.
The most obvious of all the reasons, you find your covers comfortable and the same comfort you feel under the covers can also be felt by your dog. This is likely the reason when you see that your dog does not exhibit any unusual behavior when going under the cover and sleeps well and at random times without requiring your attention to do so.
2.They feel safer under the cover.
By covering their body all over with only the head showing, your dog might be telling you that sleeping under the cover is a safe zone for them. They might be saying, I am prepared from any potential threat and all my body is hidden and protected properly. This is done even when there is nothing to be afraid of. Most dogs who go under the cover for this reason usually have a submissive personality and would sleep in this position only when they feel secure about the situation around them. Most Velcro dogs are like this and are the type of dogs that would usually follow their pet parent all over the house.
3.They have Separation Anxiety
Your dog may be suffering from separation anxiety, if you notice that your dog starts acting erratically or is a bit aggressive when you are leaving the house, chances are that they have Separation anxiety. Now you may notice that your dog sleeps under the cover only when you are gone or not around. This is because your cover might be the place where your scent is strongest, so sleeping in a place with the highest concentration of your scent is a way of being safe and close to you even though you are not around at the time.
4.You have encouraged the behavior
Most Dog parents fall into this category albeit unintentionally, you find that when your dog comes onto your bed, you may be petting them, giving them treats there, or even getting their toys for them to play on the bed. While you are admiring their cuteness and all, your petting and giving them treats and toys on the bed is interpreted by them as rewarding this behavior, they see it as you saying this is ok, this is what I expect you to do and they would continue in that same way.
5.They are fearful
Fear can cause your dog to jump into your bed and sleep under your cover. If you notice that your dog is doing this at certain times in the day, then it is likely that they are keeping away from something, and burrowing under your covers or blanket is the safest option for them at that time. What they fear maybe some sort of noise that occurs at a particular time, thunderstorms, loud train noises, planes passing over to a predatory animal in your houses like a snake or some other dangerous animal that you haven’t noticed yet.
Whatever the case, it is important to find out what is causing such fear and deal with it. Who knows, your own safety may be compromised by ignoring this sign.
6.It’s a behavior they inherited
Your dog’s love for sleeping or burrowing under your covers can have some ancestral link. Dogs in the past that were used to shield themselves from harsh weather elements, sleep on each other in packs or burrow for a long period of time and hunting smaller creatures are prone to going under the cover in today’s modern world as a natural way of life.
Let’s look at Huskies as an example, in the olden days, these dogs were bred and lived in very cold regions like Alaska and learned to burrow under snow to keep some warmth. Smaller dogs like Terriers, Hounds, and Chihuahuas who were companions for hunting small games could burrow in the ground for a long time waiting for their prey to show. These dogs till today carry these traits with them and would easily sleep under the covers and between your legs to just sleep close to you under the covers to get the warmth and security they need.
7.An event that happened in their lives.
It could be that an event in the past has marred your dog psychologically and your dog has taken to going under the covers of your bed as its best safe zone. This type of behavior will be exhibited by your dog whether you are at home or out because what triggers the action would have nothing to do with you. Maybe someone passed on in the household, or they were stepped on as young puppies and still bear the emotional scar of the event. Maybe there was even a recent threat to your dog’s safety. The reasons can go on and on but whatever it is, whenever your dog remembers this event he or she might react by running and hiding under your cover, they will stay there as long as it takes to get over the event.
This kind of condition is more of a mental issue and not physical, therefore the best kind of person to handle this kind of problem is an animal behaviorist.
Now there are things that we can do to change the situation if you don’t want your dog to be sleeping under your covers, but before diving into these solutions, it is worth noting that sleeping under our covers is not the only position our dogs can take up on our beds. There are other positions our dogs can take up in our beds and different reasons they do so. With this in mind, it is important to know these positions and why they take them up so that you can apply the proper resolution to the situation if you deem it fit to change it.
Position 1: Sleeping Beside you on your bed.
Your dog may be in the habit of sleeping beside you on your bed. If this is your case, it simply means you have the type of dog who not only has a good bond with you but also enjoys the finer things of life. Dogs like this don’t need to be smothered or praised heavily. They live in an environment in which they know they are loved and accepted as they are.
Position 2: Spooning with you.
People are used to spooning with each other, especially loved ones, but some dog parents have taken this to another level of course with the consent of their dogs. Most of the time, this spooning is done with smaller dogs as doing it with larger dogs most of the time is just outright uncomfortable and downright dangerous.
This is possible with some dogs whose ancestors were used to sleeping together on each other, this act in itself provided some level of comfort and security to those breeds, translated into the modern world, your dog allowing you to do this with him or her shows that they trust you a lot and feel protected in your presence.
Position 3: Sleeping in the Middle of Your Bed
Your dog may not be as big as you are, but that doesn’t stop him or her from feeling entitled to a major portion of your bed. Now if you have a situation where you are sleeping with other members of the family, sleeping in the middle of the bed might be their way of saying “hey I’m here, I’m also part of this group” But if he or she takes the position first when there are no other family members involved, then he or she is trying to communicate to you that its needs and wants supersedes your own, and this in itself is a problem.
Position 4: Sleeping on top of you.
If you have been asking yourself the question “why does my dog sleep so close to me” and on top of me, well, the first answer would be that this position is comfortable for both parties for it to be happening in the first place, but secondly and more important is that you obviously have a dog that is very dependent on you in nearly all areas of their life. Being away from you is a danger signal to them so much so that they would do everything necessary to make sure that you are always around them.
Dogs that are likely to exhibit such characteristics are Velcro dogs or dogs whose ancestors are used to sleeping on top of each other. But be careful here, it might also be a case of a traumatized dog or one having separation anxiety.
Position 5: At the very end of your bed.
Sleeping at the end of your bed is usually a good sign. This shows that even though you have a solid bond with your dog, he or she acknowledges you as the alpha and recognizes the need for you to keep your own space, much like a king and a palace guard.
Position 6: Sleeping Besides your Bed.
This is different from Sleeping Beside you on your bed. Your dog in this case is not even on the bed but on the floor just beside you. Now not everyone would want their dog sleeping in the same bed with them. And as strange as it may sound, not all dogs have the ability to get into our beds.
If you have a dog that chooses on its own to sleep beside your bed, this dog is showing you their level of devotion to you. They are saying they understand that you need your space and they are ok with it.
Position 7: Sleeping on your face.
This is the next level to your dog “sleeping on top of you”. Your dog is doing everything possible to attach himself or herself to you. This is not a really good situation to allow because dogs that do this are too needy and might be become hard to distance yourself from in the long run. You should also check on the dog’s other behavior to be sure they are not suffering from separation anxiety.
Position 8: Sleeping under your bed.
If you are currently experiencing this situation you may be asking yourself “why does my dog like to sleep under the bed?” Looking under the bed, it doesn’t seem like a comfortable place and there is not much space here. Well, the answer is simple. In ancient times dogs lived in dens and tight places. This was so that they could be in a position to watch out for any danger coming their way. As all dog parents know, Dogs are light sleepers.
So a dog sleeping Sleeping under your bed just shows that even though they might have a good bond with you, they are still very much in touch with their ancient roots. Giving an example from the human perspective, you can say that he or she is true to their ancestors culture and way of life.
Position 9: Sleeping on his own bed or favorite spot.
A dog doesn’t necessarily have to share bed space to bond with you. This brings us to dogs that are just comfortable sleeping in their own beds or favorite spot. They couldn’t care less about your bed or who is in it. These are dogs that are happy in their own space and don’t need to invade your space to understand that they are loved and appreciated in their new homes. In a sense, you can say that this is what is expected from a modern-day dog.
Now that we have covered all possible reasons why your dog would sleep in your bed including why your dog sleeps under your covers. The next question would be, is this something you accept the way it is, or is it something you want to change. If it is something you want, you don’t need to do anything, just leave the situation as it is, but if it is something you want to change, you will need to follow the steps below according to the characteristics your dog exhibits.
1.First thing is to provide a new sleeping place for your dog. Maybe you are buying a new crate, a new dog bed or just providing an area in the house where you want your dog to stay. Just make sure the place will be comfortable for your dog.
2.Second step is to stop encouraging the behavior of coming into your bed or sleeping under your cover, sure you might have unintentionally encouraged your dog in the past, but this is a new dawn. You don’t want them on the bed so no more rewarding the act and that includes petting them.
3.Work on their separation anxiety.
If your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, you would have to deal with the issue on its own. There are ways of handling this problem like keeping your dog engaged throughout the day, making them have access to your scent, and more. You can read up on how to deal with separation anxiety in dogs here.
4.Reduce or minimize things that would stress your dog. This usually can be some sound at certain times, some particular individual or some other animal. Whatever it is, proper socialization would go a long way to solve this problem. You can also turn the stressors into something good by linking them to something positive
5.Start training them to sleep in their new sleeping place. This can be achieved by using the positive reinforcement technique. Basically, you reward your dog for doing the things you want him or her to do. This reward can be given when the dog does these things on its own or when you encourage them to do what is expected of them.
You can follow these steps to start training your dog to sleep somewhere else you desire.
a. Make the place you want your dog to start sleeping in comfortable.
b. Bring your dog to this place and reward him or her. Your dog will start to associate that spot as a place to get some reward.
c. Start encouraging your dog to lie down there, anytime he or she does so reward them.
d. Be consistent with this process daily till the dog realizes that this is his or her new sleeping spot.
6.When every other thing fails, then you should get professional help. This can come from a specialist on an animal behaviorist, your vet doctor, or a dog trainer. Whoever it is you would be getting expert advice on handling the unique problem which your dog has.
Hi, I am Charles Nwankwo Editor-in-Chief, Mydoggything.com. Gleaning from Professional Dog Trainers, behaviorist, Registered Veterinarians, and Breeders. We are passionate about making dog care easy for you. My job is to make sure that you get the best-updated dog care information to understand and take care of your dog or dogs.