Does your dog sleep by your head?
There’s nothing to worry about. You might even consider yourself lucky.
Some dogs sleep upside down. And in the morning, their dog parents see their dog’s butt near their face.
But what makes your dog choose this exact sleeping place?
Read on to discover:
- 9 reasons why your dog sleeps this way.
- The difference between clinginess and anxiety.
- Behavioral issues that make your dog act like this.
- How to prevent your dog from sleeping by your head.
- And so much more…
Table of contents
- Why does my dog sleep by my head?
- 9 reasons why your dog sleeps by your head
- 5 tips on what to do if your dog sleeps by your head
Why does my dog sleep by my head?
Your dog sleeps by your head to feel secure or to protect you instead. Anxiety and behavioral issues could also be reasons. In other cases, your dog wants to lay on the pillow or the room is too cold. They sleep by your head too if they’re clingy, affectionate, or missing their litter.
9 reasons why your dog sleeps by your head
Your dog wants to sleep by your head because they feel more secure around you. They think that you’ll protect them.
If you notice how two dogs from the same pack sleep together, you’ll see that they sleep curling beside each other. They do this for comfort and security.
So if they sleep by your head, they consider you part of their pack.
You should also know that dogs are most vulnerable when they sleep. So if they sleep by your head, they’re probably trusting you with their life.
Eye contact is also another sign that they’re secure around you.
According to Dr. Alexandra Horowitz, “a dog’s ability to look into a person’s eyes in a non-aggressive way was one of the first steps toward canine domestication.”
#2: They’re protecting you
On the other side of the coin, your dog sleeps by your head because they want to protect you.
Your head is one of the most vulnerable parts of your body. So, your dog sleeps there to protect it from danger.
There’s a higher chance of them sleeping by your head if you have visitors sleeping over. Your dog could also be more protective if they’re bred to do so.
And if you think about it, they can respond to danger quickly in this position.
These are some of the most protective dog breeds:
- Belgian Malinois.
- German Shepherd.
- Doberman Pinscher.
But, don’t think that these breeds are the only ones sleeping by your head. All dogs can have this trait, especially if you treat them well.
#3: Separation anxiety
Perhaps, the most serious case on this list is separation anxiety. According to a study, this is affecting many dogs that are in shelters.
Behavioral history is the only method used to diagnose anxiety in dogs. There are no diagnostic methods yet which makes many dogs undiagnosed.
Here are some notable signs:
- Eating feces.
- Frequent urination.
- Howling or barking.
- Destructive chewing.
- Digging and scratching.
Your dog could be sleeping by your head because they fear that you will leave them. On the other hand, your dog also does this because they want to wake you.
Some dogs may keep you awake if they have separation anxiety. For them, even sleeping is a form of leaving.
#4: They aim for your pillow
In some cases, your dog sleeps by your head because they want your pillow. After all, pillows make your sleep more comfortable.
Pillows are snuggly and soft. They provide the best head and neck support during sleep. Of course, your dog will want to sleep there. It’s not rocket science.
They might also want to use your pillow if they’re trying to imitate you. If your dog does this, it means that you’re completely bonded.
After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, isn’t it?
A sense of security can also be linked to why your dog wants to use your pillow. Your dog feels safe when they lie down to it.
They feel safe because your pillow smells like you. They might go to your pillow if you aren’t home just to fill your absence.
#5: It’s cold tonight
If your dog sleeps by your head, there’s a chance that they’re feeling cold. They mostly want to sleep by your head during winters.
The head is one of the warmest parts of the body. According to a study, skin temperature depends on the thermal condition of the body.
And unlike the hands and feet, the head doesn’t get easily cold. This means that it’s the perfect spot for your dog.
Besides the head, your dog can also sleep by your chest or armpit when it feels cold.
If your dog continuously feels cold, check for the signs of hypothermia.
Some of these signs include:
- Stiff muscles.
- Pale or gray gums.
- Lack of coordination.
Your dog can have hypothermia if they feel cold due to the environment. They can also have this as a result of injury, illness, or medications.
#6: Clingy by nature
Some dogs are clingy by nature. And one of the ways they display their clinginess is through sleeping by your head.
There’s nothing wrong with this behavior as long as your dog isn’t crushing your skull. Bear in mind that clinginess is different from separation anxiety.
Anxiety can develop from negative experiences such as losing a dog parent or trauma. Clinginess can also develop from giving your dog treats if they follow you.
A clingy dog follows you everywhere. But, they don’t have destructive behaviors when you’re away.
Meanwhile, an anxious dog can’t stand a minute without you by their side. They’d chew and pee on everything once you leave them.
Here are some of the clingiest dog breeds:
- Border Collie.
- Golden Retriever.
- Labrador Retriever.
Note: It’s okay if a dog is clingy. But, you should take precautions because their clinginess can lead to separation anxiety.
#7: They miss their pack
If you currently have a puppy, they might be sleeping by your head due to loneliness. They might want to be as close to you as possible.
Before reaching your doorstep, your puppy belonged to a litter with their siblings. Getting away from them is a sad experience.
A proof of this is when a study found out that puppies can remember their siblings from 4 to 5 weeks of age.
The same study also suggested that puppies can recognize their mother until the age of 2. Mother and offspring bonds are more recognizable than sibling to sibling.
In another experiment, researchers found that puppies can remember their mother’s scent.
Sleeping alone is new for them since they used to sleep with their littermates. Your breath can also give them comfort.
#8: Behavioral issues
Are you sure that you haven’t enforced the behavior in your dog? They might be sleeping by your head because they think you like it.
You might be giving it treats or toys every time they sleep by your head. On the other hand, you might be luring them with these for them to get away.
Both can lead to one thing, your dog coming back for more rewards. It’s instilled in them that sleeping by your head is a great experience.
If you have a large dog, it’s also possible that they think of themselves as lap dogs. But sometimes, this can be an issue of personal space.
If this is the case, they do this because they don’t have boundaries. They haven’t been told “no”.
They think that the best place to sleep is by your head. This is okay as long as both sides feel comfortable.
If your dog has no behavioral problems, the only reason they sleep by your head is affection. This is the way they show their love for you.
And I know, you’re annoyed that you can’t sleep well at night. But look at the bright side, your dog loves you.
Congrats! You take good care of your dog and you’re now reaping the rewards. The dog sees you as someone they adore.
Your dog can feel affectionate towards you if you feed and exercise them regularly. Playing with them can also make them feel loved.
You should watch for your dog’s body language too to see if they’re showing signs of affection.
Some signs that affectionate dogs do:
- Eye contact.
- Leaning on you.
- Licking your face.
- Bringing broken toys.
They think of you this way because you take care of their needs. Keep it up!
5 tips on what to do if your dog sleeps by your head
#1: Provide a bed for them
Duh! Of course, you have to provide them their own bed.
Unless you want them to still sleep by your head, you should buy them a soft mattress.
Your dog might be sleeping on your head because there’s only a little space on your bed. This mostly happens to dog parents who have medium or large breeds.
You can place the dog bed in your room if they have separation anxiety. That way, they won’t get stressed.
Besides a dog bed, you should also give them a blanket for cold weather. You should teach your dog how to sleep on their bed as well.
You can do this by placing a treat on their bed. Try feeding your dog more treats until they establish the bed as something good.
#2: Treat separation anxiety
Your dog won’t sleep by your head if it’s okay with separation. Besides this, treating separation anxiety has benefits as well.
If your dog suffers from this condition, you should exercise them every day. Counter-conditioning is also a must.
This means that you should have a high-value treat that you’ll give them if they behave.
Give them the special treat before you leave the house. One day, he’ll look forward to your departure instead of becoming anxious.
Natural supplements also work.
You need a prescription to get these supplements. These can ease your dog’s separation anxiety or make them sleep better.
#3: Don’t reward them
Dogs can sometimes misinterpret your actions. They might think that sleeping by your head is the right thing if you reward them.
If you want them to get off your bed, luring them with treats isn’t the way. Instead, you want to teach them to sleep in another place.
You should also enforce boundaries on where they can and can’t go. You can teach them to sleep on the bed, but not on your head.
As I said earlier, don’t use rewards as a method of getting them out of your bed. Use them to establish where their bed is supposed to be.
And if you plan on hitting them every time they go to your bed, please don’t. Punishment doesn’t instill good behavior in dogs.
#4: Tire them out
If your dog is tired, it’s unlikely that they’ll be picky about where to sleep. They might lay down where you place them.
If you already bought your dog a bed, walk them an hour before bedtime. Make sure that they spent all their energy on the exercise.
If you have a working dog, it’s best to exercise them during the morning. Then, have another walk at night to top it off.
Besides walking, frisbee and tug of war are great activities to make your dog tired. They can also be exhausted if you teach them commands they never knew before.
When you’re about to sleep, they’ll probably have no energy left to jump on bed and lay by your head. Another benefit of exercise is that it also helps with fighting separation anxiety.
#5: Let them
When I say let them, I don’t mean to let them sleep by your head. This could cause discomfort especially if you have a large dog.
What you want to do is let them sleep beside you. But, place them in another position once they start to go on your head.
The best position is on the other side of the bed. Scratch their favorite spot after you placed them there.
Most dogs like it if you scratch their chest, shoulders, and neck. But, some like getting touched on their muzzle, paws, or belly. It all depends on the dog.
Over time, they’ll associate that place with scratching and will prefer sleeping there to get some more rewards.