Does your dog like the fireplace? A lot of dogs will gladly spend an entire winter's day curled up by the fireplace in front of the fire as if that is where they were born to be. Does it seem as if the warmth from the blaze has melted your dog's bones and he's fused to the spot? It does, doesn't it? You can tell at a glance, he's got absolutely no intention of moving from in front of that fireplace not even if you tempt him with his favorite treat. But what is it about fireplaces dog's like so much?
The Root of the Behavior
If your dog has been sleeping by the fireplace that spot will now be part of his territory. Just by laying there, he'll have marked the area with his scent and claimed it as his. Can you blame him? Dogs are creatures who, just like us humans, appreciate their home comforts. If your dog has decided that being in front of the fireplace is his rightful spot in the house, he's not likely to move far from it. Far back in time when dogs still lived in packs, each dog would have its own specific place in the hierarchical chain. Maturity and prowess at hunting would mean a place closer to the pack leader or a more comfortable spot in the lair and so he's just claiming what he considers to be rightfully his. After all, he is the boss of the household, isn't he? Is it some residual habit left over from prehistoric days when the first domesticated dogs may well have enjoyed curling up by the campfire of Stone Age man? It's hard to say for sure as historical records of a dog's love for fireplaces just don't go back that far. Though if modern dog is anything to go by, wild dogs would almost certainly have been stretched out in front of a cave man's blaze given half a chance. Dogs can reflect their owners moods and can even emulate their owners behaviour. If you're feeling nervous, your dog will sense your unease and often emulate it by being skittish or nervous too. If you're there, in front of the fireplace, you're relaxed, with your legs stretched out and feet up on the hearth, that's also where your dog is going to want to be and he'll be acting just as chilled out as you are.
Encouraging the Behavior
It's quite natural for a dog to want to be close to a source of warmth especially when it's cold outside. Like us, a dog knows keeping warm is part and parcel of self preservation. Being cold is not good for man or dog and most of us, our pets included, will do their best to avoid it. Survival instincts even in domesticated dogs are quite strong and so he'll do what he thinks his best for him. Do you worry that your hearth loving dog might be getting too hot? Dogs, as well as being creatures of habit, can be very stubborn. They will lay by the fireplace until they start panting because they appear to be getting overheated and still won't move. Dogs are warm blooded and tolerate heat much better than humans. Even though he's panting, to let off a little excess heat, he will be more than comfortable right where he is. Believe it, if he wasn't, he'd soon move. If your dog loves to lay by the hearth he does run the risk of getting burned particularly if you have an open fire with no spark guard. It's always best to make sure the environment your pet is in is as safe as it possibly can be and you can both enjoy the luxury of the fireplace without any worries.
Other Solutions and Considerations
So your dog loves to lay by the fireplace and why not when it's the warmest place in the house? But if you're in the kitchen making breakfast, while he's taken up his residential hearth position, if you smell something scorching, double check what he's up to. It may not be the toast that's burning but your dog who is getting toasted.