Many people love their dogs and consider them a true important member of their family. Dog owners generally like to spend time hanging with their pup and playing games with them. Even the laziest of dogs are usually more than happy to plop down next to their owner to watch whatever you are watching on the television.

Never mind that your boisterous furry ball of energy is breaking the rules of proper etiquette when it comes to not invading another’s space. Some will be bold enough to go further and climb right on top of their unsuspecting owner then refusing to budge an inch.

This behaviour begs a common dog owner question heard since the dawn of time than repeated down through the ages. Why does my dog sleep on top of me?

Dogs in Bed & Dogs on My Head – What’s a Dog Owner to Do?

Some owners let their dogs sleep with them in bed, and others find the dog in their bed but really don’t know why the dog began doing this and want to know how to stop this behaviour.

Strangely, many dogs take closeness to a whole new level, and this begs a common dog owner question. Why does my dog sleep on top of me? Next, dog owners begin to inquire if it’s even good when my dog sleeps on me either in bed or elsewhere.

Why do my dogs lay on top of me?

So glad that you finally asked. The answer to the riddle of why does my dog lay on me is rooted in the history of dogs when they lived in the wild. Wolves and eventually other dogs lived in packs for their protection and the benefits that living in a close-knit community can bring to each wild dog.

History of Wild Dog Packs & How These Instincts & Behaviours Still Remain

Like other animals, dogs have deep instincts that remained even after dogs were domesticated and made into pets that lived in a household with their human families. There are still lots of pack related behaviours that dogs will exhibit from time to time.

Just by their very natures, most dogs prefer to be in the company of other dogs, humans or even other animal species. They are considered one of the most social of all animal types, and this is clearly what drew humans to bond with them in the first place.

While cats tend to be a bit standoffish and often prefer their alone time, most dogs become upset, bored or stressed when they are left alone for any length of time. Dogs and wolves in the wild live in packs with one male being considered the alpha male who expects the other pack dogs to concede their inferiority of status by certain behaviours.

Dogs Assert Their Dominance by Laying on the Other Dogs

When a dog is living with other dogs, it is common for the one trying to assert their dominance to lay on the weaker dog, or in the case of a dog living with a human family, their owners. In some cases, the answer to “why does my dog lay on top of me?” could be that your dog is telling the other dogs or pets in the home that they are making their claim on you the owner.

Why Dogs Leave Their Scent On Certain Objects or Persons They Claim

Dogs often brush up against an object, another dog or a person depending on their unique “pack” characteristics. When another animal encounters the left behind dog scent and/or fur brushings, they will likely be cautious of entering the other dog’s turf and will think twice about approaching the dog’s nearby human family members.

A dog will happily count you, the owner, as the top dog of their pack. This is because the dog sees that their owner takes care of their everyday living needs like food, shelter and socialisation.

The key to understanding your dogs’ behaviour is to interpret your pet’s coded messages. Most likely, if your dog lays on top of you and there are other dogs/pets in the home, they are most likely asserting their dominance over the other pets and not their human owner who they usually see as their king.

However, there are other reasons to consider when trying to sort out what your dog is trying to tell you.

What Does It Mean When Your Dog Lays On You?

While some dog owners might be sceptical of some dogs, most dogs are clever and intelligent when it comes to getting what they want from their human owners. Here are some of the things that your dog may be trying to say to you when they flop down on your chest seemingly at random.

Your pooch may be communicating:

  • Dog Is Protecting You
  • He Wants Some Attention
  • She Misses Her Mom & Siblings – for small puppy
  • Your Dog Is Sad or Bored or Scared
  • Your Dog Thinks You Like Him Crushing Your Chest or Head
  • It Feels Safer Sitting On Top of You – again back to that pack behaviour
  • Maybe Your Dog Suffers from Separation Anxiety Due to Your Leavings

It can be tricky trying to read your dog’s coded message even for the best of owners. The dog could be trying to distract you by lying on your chest, because – my favourite – your dog did something wrong and doesn’t want you to find out what.

Your dog may simply be waiting for you to interpret what they are waiting for you to do. This could be anything from scratching ears/belly, going to sleep, wanting a snack before bed or trying to extend the day by hoping you are up for some nighttime play.

Other reasons for the behaviour include:

  • Sitting on Top of You Is Simply Comfier for Your Furry Friend
  • He Is Trying to Get Warm
  • Alerting You That He Doesn’t Feel Well
  • Most Importantly – Your Dog Is Showing You Affection & Love

What to do about your dog laying on top of you

Why Does My dog Sleep on Top of Me_The Healthy Dog Co


Now that we’ve discussed some of the possible answers to – why does my dog lay on top of me – we should discuss what to do about your dog laying on top of you like that if you really wish he’d rather not.

Ask: What was going on right before your dog began making you his/her pillow?

Of course, if your pooch has been encouraged to do this behaviour since it was a small puppy, the reasons are going to be far different than if the dog developed the behaviour later when older. Older initial habits are generally harder to break.

Tips for Determining a Timeline of When Your Pup Does the Behaviour

-Make note of when your dog tends to get too cosy. Is it before you take him outside? Does your dog do this before he gets fed? What are you doing at the same time? Your dog could be interpreting your behaviours as attention even if it is bad attention like yelling or putting the wayward pet into his kennel.

Be alert to what other family members or nearby neighbours are doing at the same time to ensure the problem doesn’t lie there. For example, if your neighbour comes home from work in the late afternoon, does your pooch interpret this to be a threat?

Steps to Get Your Dog to Stop Using You as a Bed

If you tend to give in and reward your little devilish pup even if he is clearly not listening, this serves only to reinforce the behaviour as a method to get your attention even if negative. Never encourage the behaviour you don’t want the dog doing.

Stop Behaviour by Using Positive Reinforcement Training

Dogs, like people, respond better and faster to positive reinforcements. Forget about swatting or yelling, rather reward good behaviour. Try to get your dog to sleep on his own bed. Make it comfortable, offer treats and give your dog that attention when he does stay off of you and sleeps in his own bed.

Final thoughts

Rather than focusing solely on why does my dog sleep on me, switch gears and make your dog believe that sleeping in his own personal spot is the way to get your love and attention.

If asking why does my dog sleep on top of me leave you suddenly feeling guilty and lonely for dog cuddles, by all means, let your pup sleep where it wants. Another option is to park your pooch at your feet or on the floor beside you. This can be an excellent meeting-of-the-minds compromise.

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