Is your dog (always) touching you while sleeping?
If so, it’s understandable that you wonder why your dog does it.
Here you’ll find out the answer.
Keep reading to discover:
- 9 reasons why your dog touches you when sleeping.
- 3 tips to prevent your dog from touching you when sleeping.
- A personal story about my previous dog – Ejy (this will help you understand your dog better).
- And more…
Table of contents
- Why does my dog touch me when sleeping?
- 9 reasons why your dog touches you when sleeping
- 3 tips to prevent your dog from touching you when sleeping
Why does my dog touch me when sleeping?
Your dog touches you when sleeping either because he’s following his pack instinct, looking for attention, feeling more secure or comfortable, showing affection, suffering from separation anxiety, protecting you, wants to warm himself or is jealous of your partner sleeping in the same bed.
Let’s discuss each of these reasons in more detail below:
9 reasons why your dog touches you when sleeping
#1: It’s a pack thing
As pack animals, one of the most normal things that dogs could do is sleep touching other members of the pack.
Since you are your dog’s ‘pack’, they could choose to sleep between your legs or back to back.
You might also find your dog curled up beside you.
#2: Looking for attention
Sometimes Lissa (my current dog) would come to me in bed and start nudging me with her nose.
That’s how she ‘demands’ petting, cuddles, as well as ear and belly scratches.
The funny thing is that if I start scratching her belly or ears, and stop, she would give me a very intense stare. It’s almost as if she were saying ‘How dare you? Continue!’
So, by coming so close to you, your dog could be telling you ‘Give me some attention!’
#3: For security
You might not know it but your dog could feel insecure without you.
So, at night, when both of you are most vulnerable, they might want to ensure they’re safe.
Plus, it’s how dogs work. Since they normally go in packs, it’s expected of them to stick to their owner at all times.
#4: Showing affection
Your dog might not be able to talk but they sure are capable of feeling love and expressing it!
When Lissa (my long-haired Chihuahua mix) comes to me and touches my body while I’m in bed, it’s her way of saying ‘I want to cuddle‘.
#5: For comfort
Has it ever occurred to you that your dog might prefer you bed instead of their dog bed?
This is because while sleeping in your bed they have the opportunity to be close to you. And to touch you.
They might even lean on you or put their head on your arms or legs.
Lissa does this quite often 😉
#6: Separation anxiety
Another possibility is that your dog can’t bear to be away from you. Or in other words – they might be suffering from separation anxiety.
In such cases, your dog is likely to sleep touching you, so they can become aware of when you’re about to go somewhere.
Then, they’d make sure to follow you and not let you out of their sight.
#7: Your dog has got your back
When your dog has their back touching yours, it’s most likely because they’re looking out for you.
It’s how wild dog function in packs as this way if any danger approaches, all directions are covered and it can be spotted before something bad happens.
That way if an intruder appears, they can alert you immediately.
Your dog could lie down facing the door of the bedroom for the same reason.
Dogs are quite bright and are aware of the fact that you are most vulnerable while you’re sleeping.
While your dog’s head is close to yours they will also check your breath. When they do so, they can tell how you are doing.
This is also what they’d do with pack members. Plus, it’s how they tell if you’re awake in the morning. Especially when they can’t wait to go out for a walk.
That’s why your dog will do their best to ensure nothing endangers you during this time.
#8: For warmth
One of the reasons why dogs in the wild sleep while their bodies are touching is to warm each other.
If your dog finds the room temperature okay or a bit too hot, they will simply stretch out.
You can see an example of my dog Lissa below:
Btw, we call her ‘Lissa the long dog’. You can probably see why 😉
Have you noticed your dog being jealous of other dog owners or dogs during walks?
You could witness that same jealousy at home without even realizing it at times.
My previous dog – Ejy, would get very irritated when someone from the family tried to kiss my Mum.
As soon as he would spot an attempt from another family member to get close to Mum for a hug or a kiss, Ejy would start growling, look you straight in the eyes and even bark.
You could say he was possessive of her. The same applied when someone wanted to give me affection.
He wouldn’t stand it. And wouldn’t allow it – not under his watch 😉
If you’ve recently married or have a new partner, your dog might not feel as comfy as you with their presence in the house.
So, they could try to ‘claim’ you as their property. Almost if they’re saying ‘She’s/He’s mine!’
The case could be different if you and your partner have been with the dog since their birth.
Lissa, my current dog is very much attached to both me and my partner. At night she loves to cuddle in bed with us and lies with me for a certain time, and then with him.
3 tips to prevent your dog from touching you when sleeping
Maybe you twist and turn a lot during the night before you fall asleep or even after.
So, you could be worried about hurting your dog. Or, you could feel guilty they cannot get proper sleep.
And, last but not least, you might just not like it.
There are several things you could do to change this:
#1: Don’t reinforce the behavior
You could have taught your dog to receive rewards when they lie next to you.
Do you start scratching or petting them every time they ‘park’ their furry body next to yours?
If so, then what you’re communicating to them equals ‘Good dog, do this more often.’
So, now that we’ve got that covered, let’s see what you can do next time.
Caution: Do not push your dog away because they might feel unwanted by you.
Instead, start by ignoring your dog.
When Lissa comes to me to cuddle her but I’m too tired, I simply turn away. After a minute or two, she readjusts her position because she gets the message.
Alternatively, you could use the word ‘No’.
Lissa knows that whenever me and my boyfriend say ‘No’, it translates to ‘I don’t want you to do what you’re about to do…’ or ‘Stop what you’re doing right now’.
#2: Redirect your dog to another resting place
Does your dog have a dog bed? Or at least a nice blanket or a big soft pillow where they can lie down comfortably?
If not, then you might want to get them one.
Dogs enjoy resting on soft surfaces such as your bed’s blanket, your pillow or the couch.
Maybe that’s one of the main reasons why your dog chose your bed in the first place.
First, choose an area of your home where your dog would be undisturbed. Meaning – no TV, radio or outside noises.
Then, get them a nice comfy dog bed and put a comfort blanket there that carries your smell.
That should compel the dog to get used to their new bed soon enough.
If you can’t afford a dog bed at the moment, get a soft blanket from the wardrobe and fold it. Then leave it in a corner where you’d like your dog to sleep.
Put some of your dog’s toys on the blanket, or a small cloth that carries your smell – such a scarf or a glove.
Tip: The smoothest transition would be to put the dog’s bed in your bedroom. That way the dog would still feel as part of ‘the pack.’
Reward the dog with a small sack every time you see them lying them lying there.
#3: Work on your dog’s separation anxiety
First, exercise your dog before going to bed.
Take them out for a walk, let them play fetch, and socialize with other dogs.
Make them work for snacks – tell them commands they know and reward accordingly.
Then, start building up their knowledge by introducing a new command. Help your dog do it by using your body language to direct the movements you want them to make.