Wondering why your dog only sleeps when they’re close to you? As their guardian, there are several reasons why your pup chooses to sleep next to you. Ultimately, all reasons point relate to your dog’s attachment to you.
At first, you may think it’s sweet that your pup loves you so much they can’t sleep without you. Though it is sweet, it’s important that your dog learns independence. In this article, you’ll learn why your dog only does to bed with you and how to rectify the situation.
Why Does My Dog Want to Sleep with Me?
As your dog’s main caregiver, it makes sense that your pup feels attached to you. In fact, one study found that the attachment dogs have to their owners is similar to that of an infant and its mother. This kind of bond can be an amazing one to have with your pet, but it’s imperative that you teach your pup a healthy attachment style.
Like humans, dogs form one of two attachments: Secure or insecure. Dogs with a secure attachment form healthy bonds and connections, while those with an insecure attachment may become too dependent and form separation anxiety or other behavioral issues. In this section, you’ll learn why your dog insists on sleeping with you.
1. They Want to Protect You
Dogs are pack animals. It’s in their nature to protect those in their pack — especially their leader, which is their owner. This is because animals in the wild are vulnerable to attack when they’re asleep.
Thus, your pup may insist on sleeping next to you so they can protect you. Though you’re both asleep, your pup may think that it has the best chance of protecting you if they’re in the room with you at all times. They’re simply wired to want to protect you from potential dangers, like an intruder.
2. They Want You to Protect Them
Not only does sleeping next to you allow them to protect you, it makes the dog feel safer, too. When your dog sleeps near you, it’s because they trust you to protect them in their slumber. If your dog sometimes follows you around and sleeps close to you during abnormal circumstances (like hearing fireworks), this is a sign of a healthy, secure attachment.
On the other hand, if your dog feels scared or nervous in their everyday environment, they likely have an insecure attachment to you. In these cases, it’s important to not encourage clingy behavior. This is because you want your dog to feel calm and safe in their environment, even when you aren’t there.
3. They Want Comfort
A dog’s desire to sleep next to their owner is not unlike humans wanting to sleep in the same bed as their partner. Even dogs with a secure attachment style simply enjoy being close to their owners. Plus, if you frequently cuddle and love on your dog in your bed, they want to soak up that affection!
4. There’s Not Another Comfortable Area
Does your dog have a comfortable bed to sleep in? If you don’t want to share your bed, it’s important to have a comfy dog bed. If you had to sleep on something old, smelly, and worn out, wouldn’t you want to sleep on a human bed instead?!
If you notice your dog doesn’t seem to be enjoying its bed, try introducing a new one to them. Maybe also give them their own blanket to snuggle under. Sometimes, that solution is enough!
How Do I Get My Dog Used to Sleeping Alone?
Teaching your dog to sleep alone may feel like a disheartening task. As an owner who loves their dog, you may worry that kicking them out of your bed will hurt your dog’s feelings. At first, you may feel like you’re confirming your suspicions, but it’s important to keep at it.
Your dog ultimately wants to please you, so calm repetition and positive reinforcement is key. The process may be tedious and test your patience as well as your willpower. Here are some tips to get you through it:
As previously mentioned, be sure your dog has a comfortable bed that you know it enjoys. If they can’t seem to get in a comfortable sleeping position on it, you may need a new one. Additionally, stock up on treats for them and caffeine for you — you should be prepared for a few sleepless nights at the beginning of training.
Assign a Command to Bed Time
You can choose to view solo sleeping as a new trick. Issue a verbal command like “bed” and point at the dog bed, which you should be standing next to. Then, encourage your dog to come to the bed.
The first few times you do this, your dog may be confused. Once they complete the task and get their reward (a treat and your praise), they should start to catch on. Keep repeating this process over the next few days.
As you practice, slowly increase the distance between you and the dog bed. The goal is that you can send your pup to bed even when you’re in another room. Once you reach this point, you no longer need the treats.
Now it’s time to put it into practice. At bedtime, firmly send your dog to their bed with the command they learned. If they leave their bed and come back to you, command them to return to their bed.
If your dog keeps coming back to you, you may need to incorporate something to deter them. Utilizing something like a water bottle is perfect, because it deters them without hurting them. Don’t worry — they’ll get the message eventually!
Sharing your bed with your dog isn’t a bad thing unless you feel like it is. Whether your dog needs to learn some independence or you simply want more leg room, the choice is yours. Your bond with your dog won’t suffer if you choose to train them to sleep alone.