If you’re a dog mom or dad, you have probably asked yourself at some point: why does my dog sleep against me? Let us know if you relate – when you crawl into bed at night, ready to relax and get your valuable ZZZs, your four-legged child hops up into bed, blatantly ignoring all of the open real estate on your mattress, and snuggles right up to your legs, torso, even your head! If you’re relating to this scenario, you are not alone. Canine sleep snuggling, it seems, is a thing, and today’s post explores why dogs exhibit this behavior and more.
The pack mentality.
Unless you have many dogs in your household, it’s easy to forget that your faithful furry companion was probably born in a pack. Therefore, by nature, dogs’ behaviors are often guided by this innate pack instinct – sleep security notwithstanding.
What do we mean by sleep security? It’s when dogs seek comfort and security from their packmates during sleep, which is when they are highly vulnerable. Have you ever watched a litter of puppies sleep? You’ll notice it’s usually in one big, adorable furry heap. Wild dogs exhibit similar behaviors, opting to sleep in small, confined areas with pack members they trust to protect against predators.
When your dog sleeps right next to you, he is demonstrating trust in his “alpha” human. Your immediate presence provides the security and comfort pack dogs instinctively seek during slumber.
How do I know my dog loves me?
Aside from sleeping next to you like velcro, there are quite a few other signs that your dog not only loves you intensely but also trusts you implicitly. The trust-building with your fur baby began the moment you met. However, it can take hours, days, or weeks for a dog to fully trust its two-legged pack members, especially if they are a rescue.
Following are other signs your dog trusts you:
- Your dog looks you in the eyes.
- Your dog is confident and relaxed around you.
- Your dog responds well to training.
- Your dog is calm when you leave, trusting you will return.
- They sleep belly up.
Speaking of dog sleeping positions, let’s sidetrack from your dog’s adoration for a minute to learn what sleeping positions indicate your dog is feeling – because you know how much we like to talk about sleep! Have you ever wondered why your dog sleeps in certain positions? Here’s the scoop:
- The side sleeper – they feel safe, relaxed, and at a comfortable temperature.
- The lion’s pose – they are resting but ready to jump up and play at any time.
- The superman – they are tired but ready to play if asked.
- The donut – they are curled up to protect themselves and conserve body heat.
- The burrower – burrowing under blankets means they are seeking comfort and security.
Do dogs imprint? Is that why my dog sleeps against me?
Right, back to your dog’s loving behavior. Let’s talk about imprinting. Although imprinting may trigger shirtless Jacob Black memories, werewolves aren’t real, so just forget about that particular piece of literature for the sake of this discussion. Imprinting, however, is real; however, it’s exclusive to some bird species, and the technical term is “filial imprinting.” For example, ducks imprint on whoever they see first once hatched, which is usually the momma duck.
On the other hand, dogs exhibit similar behavior, but bonding is a better description of the process, as it happens over time rather than immediately. Also, it can happen with more than one human, unlike filial imprinting. The behaviors we bulleted earlier are all sure signs your dog imprinted on you, and you are their family and protector.
The love between a dog and its human is pure and built on trust. Although you aren’t a dog like them, you are the alpha, so your dog will look to you for guidance and reassurance. You are a team, a pack, and you provide each other with comfort and security, both physically and emotionally.
So, the next time your dog crawls into bed and unabashedly invades your space, let it happen for a few minutes. It’s one of the many signs your dog trusts you! So, although it may not be the most comfortable for you, by allowing your dog to snuggle and cuddle before gently redirecting them, you’re demonstrating your love and trust in return.
Cheers to better sleep and the love of our four-legged companions, friends!