Why Does My Dog Sleep On Top Of Me?

This post was most recently updated on May 9th, 2021

Dogs have a lot in common with humans. They love to cuddle up, they need plenty of attention and affection and sometimes they just want to be left alone. But why does my dog sleep on top of me? 

This is an interesting question that many people ask themselves when their pup lays on the bed or on their lap even after being scolded for it. So what does it mean when your dog sleeps on you?

Is it because the dog is seeking attention or trying to get more warmth by getting closer to their family? Maybe your dog is scared and just needs comfort. Or maybe separation anxiety has taken over and there’s no one left for them but you! 

why does my dog sleep on top of me

Why Does My Dog Sleep On Top Of Me?

Well, there are many reasons why dogs choose to sleep over us – we’ll explore all possible explanations below:

1. Dogs are pack animals and want to be close to their family members.

  • Your pup might want to be close to their family members and sees it as an opportunity for more attention and affection from us humans. This is especially true if they’ve had some negative experience with other people in which case they may feel more secure sleeping next to someone they know well (i.e., mommy). The same goes when we sleep together – dogs will typically lay alongside us because they have nothing to make them feel like family. 
  • When your dog sleeps on you it can be seen as an act of trust or love for you. 
  • They’re tired from playing all day long! Dogs will often nap after a tiring game of fetch or run around; this can happen at any time of the day, whether in your bed or on the floor. 

2. The dog is trying to keep you warm or wants your attention

  • Sleeping on a person’s chest can be comforting for the pup, especially if they need extra heat. Dogs often sleep pressed against each other in cold places to keep warm so why would our canine pals do any different? 
  • Some dogs may not want your attention at all and will just lay there; this is usually because it feels nice when you touch them or because that spot is comfortable. It could also have something to do with their age – older pups are more likely to just stay put rather than move around too much since they might be feeling stiffer these days.”
  • “Dogs love attention from people,” says veterinary behaviorist Dr. Jennifer Coates, author of “Do Dogs Need Prozac?”

3. The dog is seeking comfort from the person they’re closest with 

  • “Since sleeping next to someone releases pheromones that make you feel safe in stressful situations”
  • We have a lot of friends and family members to seek comfort but who do dogs turn to? The dog is seeking comfort from the person they’re closest with – whether it’s mommy, daddy, big brother Mike (that’s me). So, based on whoever is close, dogs tend to seek comfort from them by sleeping on top of us.

4. Your dog has separation anxiety and needs reassurance that you’ll come back home soon

  • Some dogs suffer from separation anxiety, which is characterized by them refusing to leave your side. This could be out of fear you’ll never come back home or because they need reassurance that you’re nearby in case something bad happens.

“Dogs are pack animals,” says Dr. Coates. 

  • When a dog sleeps on their human’s chest, it can show an expression of love and trust as the headrests on the owner’s shoulders.
  • Dogs will often sleep along with humans if they’ve been abandoned – this means there was no one around for comfort before so when dogs finally find someone who will stay with them instead, they don’t want to let go!
  • This article has made me realize my pup may have separation anxiety – she sleeps on my chest every night and she goes looking for me when I’m out of the room.
  • Dogs who are overcrowded, or have too many things going on around them during the day may feel restless at bedtime – so they come to us instead!
  • The dog’s need to keep a close eye on their humans can also be why dogs sleep with people.

5. The dog is trying to get away from something it doesn’t like, such as a thunderstorm or another animal in the house

  • Dogs might get scared due to thunderstorm and crawl closer to their owners or under the bed
  • It’s possible when dogs sleep on top of people, they are trying to get away from something it doesn’t like. For example, a thunderstorm that scares them or another animal in the house. Sometimes this fear can come out during the night and so sleeping close by makes them feel safer.” 
  • “Dogs might also be looking for an escape route if they’re too scared to go outside – so hiding near us is better than risking being alone with whatever has made them afraid.” 
  • The dog just wants comfort: “They want contact … It could be due to separation anxiety which means that your pup may not ever have had someone there before who would give him any love at all.

6. Try giving your pup more attention during the day so he feels less threatened at night

  • One way to make your dog more comfortable is by giving more attention during the day so he feels less threatened at night. “If you have a dog that isn’t getting enough attention during the day, they might start to act out and sleep on top of people because it’s their way of ensuring more contact,” says Dr. Nailah Lymus with Vetstreet.com.” 
  • “Try giving your pup more time outside or inside so he has something else in his life other than being stuck behind closed doors all day long”. 
  • The dog wants to protect you: “Dogs will sometimes keep us warm by laying on our feet, but if they lay down next to us as we’re sleeping then this often means that they want to make sure nothing bad happens while we slumber.”
  • It could just be their way of being comfortable: “Dogs often sleep on us for the same reason we do – it’s just comfortable.”

When does laying on top of you becomes a problem

There are some warning signs of when a dog laying on top of you becomes a problem.

  • If your dog starts to lay on you when lying down and not just when they’re sleeping, it could be a sign of dominance. A common explanation is that your pet may assert its alpha status.
  •  When your pet’s weight becomes enough that it hinders breathing or mobility: “It can also cause problems if the animal has become too heavy for its owner”.
  • “If there are any difficulties getting up because their feet cannot reach the floor.” 
  • “When pets have arthritis, hip dysplasia or other joint pain.” 
  • “In these cases, we recommend trying different surfaces in the house so as not to put unnecessary strain on joints.”
  • Separation anxiety is one of the most common reasons why dogs will sleep on top of their owners. When a pet is stressed, they often seek out strong and familiar smells to calm them down: “It’s the closest sense we have to being hugged.”
  • In this video from Jenna Martin, her dog doesn’t want her mother to leave so she jumps up with both paws on the bed over Jenna’s stomach blocking her mom who won’t budge until she finally leaves.

Final Thoughts: 

Have you ever wondered why your dog might be sleeping on top of you? There are a few reasons that this could happen and it can depend on the personality type or breed of your pup. 

It may just want to be close to their family, keep you warm, seeking comfort after coming home from being in another environment for a while (separation anxiety), they are scared of something or trying to get more attention. Do any of these sounds like what is going through with your pet? Share below!

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