Let’s be honest:
It’s weird when your dog sleeps on your head (or nearby).
I mean, why do they pick this place over all the other options they have?
Read further to find out:
- What your dog is trying to say by sleeping on your head.
- Why your dog likes to sit with their butt on your face (check out #9 for more info).
- How to use positive reinforcement to unteach your dog from sleeping on your head or nearby.
- And more…
Table of contents
- Why does my dog sleep on my head?
- 11 reasons why your dog sleeps on your head or nearby
- 5 tips to stop your dog from sleeping on (or at) your head
Why does my dog sleep on my head?
Dogs sleeps on your head (or nearby) because they perceive you as part of the pack. They want to be close to you. And on cold days, this is how they warm themselves. In general, dogs will keep doing this as long as you allow them to.
11 reasons why your dog sleeps on your head or nearby
#1: You’re nice and warm
It feels so good to lie down where we feel comfortable.
That’s why you automatically go near the fireplace when it’s cold.
In the same way, your dog sleeps on your head or nearby because it’s comfortable.
You’re all nice and warm for them. It’s your smell and heat that make them gravitate to you.
#2: You allow them
Your action dictates your dog’s reaction.
It works like this:
Your dog tries to go near you and you just let them.
They think it’s okay. So they will come closer and lie near you. Still, you do nothing to shoo them away.
Now they feel comfortable.
Soon enough, you’ll have a dog sleeping over your head. Or at your feet.
Even across your neck or chest.
They disrupt your sleep and yet you allow it.
A 2020 study observed the same thing. The human participants chose to co-sleep with their dogs.
The findings showed that co-sleeping affected the dog owners’ sleep quantity and quality.
However, the participants did not complain about their dogs disrupting their sleep.
See? If you allow this behavior, dogs will do it all the time.
And if dogs are allowed where you sleep, it forms into a habit.
#3: They like being close to you
Have you experienced going to the bathroom with company?
If you have kids, you probably know the feeling all too well.
Apparently, the same happens when you have dogs. They shadow you everywhere you go.
It’s like having another toddler.
Dogs do this because they want to be around their favorite human.
Naturally, they would follow you around. Even in the bathroom.
I know a friend whose dog follows him everywhere. Sometimes the owner accidentally steps on the tail or paw.
His dog loves their daily walks. In fact, the dog has associated his owner stepping out of the front door for taking a walk. So whenever my friend steps out of the door, the dog runs to him.
And when he’s in front of his computer, his dog lies down at his feet. The dog chooses to be near him even when other family members are around.
It’s the same when you’re in bed. If you allow your dog in the bedroom, they’ll soon snuggle close to you.
#4: They’re clingy
Clingy dogs are those that suffer from separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety refers to your dog becoming upset when separated from you.
They manifest these in undesirable behaviors such as:
- Excessive barking.
- Eliminating anywhere when the owner is not around.
In addition, separation anxiety is one of the most common behavior problems in dogs.
It develops when they have over-attachment to their owner.
Negative experiences early in puppyhood also leads to separation anxiety.
For example, dogs may have been separated too early from their dam. Or they have experienced trauma while alone.
#5: They’re cozy
How do dogs sleep soundly with their head over the edge of the bed? Or with their head touching their feet?
It’s funny how they get into these funky and weird sleep positions. These look uncomfortable, but they are actually very comfy.
So if they sleep on your head, they find that position very cozy.
#6: They’re cuddlers
Cuddlers are dogs that prefer cuddling a friend when they sleep. That means you or other pets in the house.
You’ll notice that cuddlers love to sleep on their tummies. Their back legs are spread out and one paw is over you.
Cuddlers are affectionate and needy dogs. They love you, and they want to be near you.
#7: They check up on you
Have you noticed how your dog has one paw over you?
Or how one part of their body is touching you?
That’s because they want to check on you. They want to know if you’re okay, or if you’re still there.
#8: They see you as their boss
Whoever walks, feeds and spends the most time with the dog is the primary caretaker. But also the boss in the eyes of the dog.
So, that’s how your dog sees you. They would always choose you over other family members.
And since you take care of their needs, they feel a sense of duty toward you.
So it’s no wonder that they would sleep on your head or nearby.
#9: Some dogs lack perception of personal space
You’re already on the bed and your dog comes toward you.
If you’re lucky, they flop beside you or by your feet to sleep in peace.
But for them to stick their face to yours?
Worse, they sit with their butts on your face.
While this seems funny, it’s annoying to some dog owners.
#10: They feel safe
According to this article, your dog sleeping near you has to do with safety.
An indication is when dogs can sleep with their backs to you. They know you have their back, so to speak. And that’s why they feel comfortable near you.
#11: They pick up the habit
It’s only a matter of days before your dog makes a habit out of sleeping near you.
And when this becomes a habit, it’s challenging to correct it.
After discussing why your dog loves sleeping on your head, let’s find out how you can stop them from doing so.
5 tips to stop your dog from sleeping on (or at) your head
#1: Keep them busy
If your dog has separation anxiety, give them something to do when you leave.
Keep them busy so that they don’t notice your absence.
This way, you can train them to not follow you all the time.
One way is to give them a puzzle toy to take their attention off you.
Some puzzle toys have sounds to hold the dog’s interest. Other toys have parts that must be moved or flipped.
You can also give them a Stuffed Kong to keep them entertained.
This is a step toward stopping them from sleeping over your head.
Soon, they’ll know not to follow you when you get in the bed.
#2: Set rules and boundaries
You allow your dog to sleep near you. But what does your partner think about it?
The problem arises when he doesn’t agree on this.
If you let your dog near you but your partner is annoyed, your dog will pick up the emotion. Your dog becomes confused and could feel antagonistic toward your partner.
They may see your partner as their competition.
Cesar Millan, a famed dog behaviorist, advises setting rules and boundaries.
This means establishing that it’s your bed, not your dog’s. By doing so, you establish your dominance without the need for punishment.
Caution: Don’t use punishment when training your dog. Raising your voice or hurting them will not elicit the positive result you want.
#3: Reward good behavior
Instead of punishing your dogs, train them to stop jumping to your bed.
And teach them to sleep in their own beds.
You can use treats by placing them on your dog’s bed. Your dog will associate their bed with rewards.
Use commands such as ‘go to bed’ to establish bedtime. It takes time for a dog to learn this so be patient.
Caution: Do not force your dog to stay in their bed. If you do, they will associate the bed with a negative experience.
And when your dog lies on their bed, reward them with treats. Treats are the best option as positive reinforcement.
Sometimes your dog may disobey you by trying to jump to your bed. It is important that they know what ‘no’ means.
If you say ‘no’ and they go back to their bed, reward them with treats.
Your dog may get smart with you by crying or moaning to get their way. Do not give in. It is for their own good. And yours.
#4: Wear out your dog before bedtime
This is a trick to get your dog to sleep in their own bed.
Play with them right before bedtime. Simple activities will do such as a game of fetch and running up and down the stairs. Or take them out for a long walk or run.
When playtime is over, your dog is too tired to fight you over where they should sleep.
#5: Give them a comfortable place to sleep
Dogs love sleeping over your head or near you because that is a comfortable spot.
When training them to sleep on their own bed, make sure it’s comfortable.
Their bed should allow them to curl up or stretch on their backs. And their sleeping area should be comfortable and familiar to your dog.
Place your dog’s bed in your bedroom if you and your partner are okay with this. Otherwise, put the bed out of the room. So long as it’s where your dog is comfortable.