If you let your dog sleep in your bed, he can consider himself a lucky dog. But what about you? You might be single or have a partner, but he still wiggles his way into your resting place. You have a nice sized bed with plenty of spare room at the foot of the bed. But for some reason, Snuggles wants to sleep across the middle, pushing you to the side and almost off the bed. You lay still, body straight, holding onto the blanket that won’t give because he’s sprawled on it. He might be a little dog, he might be a big dog, but either way, he hogs the bed.
The Root of the Behavior
A dog’s personality is a good indicator of if he’s a cuddly friend or not, but some breeds are more eager to snuggle. The Skye Terrier, Newfoundland, Bassett Hound, Great Dane, Havanese, English Mastiff, Greyhound, and Tibetan Spaniel are all breeds that enjoy being close to their human friends.
If you’ve slept with a dog beside you, then you know it’s not only by sprawling out that they take up space. They might lay their back against you and not let you roll over, sit on your feet, rest their head on your arm or chest, or sleep in between you and your partner. Either way, they take up space, limit your movement in bed, and somehow weigh a lot more when you try to roll them over.
There are a few reasons for these behaviors. It could be love and affection and a sign that you are part of his pack and family. It could also be dominance and a way for him to tell you he’s in control of the space and control of you.
When dogs are born, they stick with their littermates and often pile on top of each other and their mom. When they get older, they sleep with a pack to feel safe and close to their family. If your dog sleeps on you, your feet, or lays up against you, he is saying you’re one of the pack. Resting his head or nuzzling you is also often a sign of affection. Your dog will most likely do this during the daytime, too.
The other possibility is dominance. If your dog sits on your feet or sprawls out on the bed, he could be demonstrating his dominance over you. He feels comfortable enough to deem the space his and push you aside. Sleeping between you and your partner could also be a dominant move. This is not necessarily aggressive behavior, but he is in control in this situation. And you are at the edge of your bed, begging for more blanket.
Encouraging the Behavior
Sleeping with your furry friend can bring you joy. You have a snuggle buddy who makes you feel safe, adds a little warmth, and helps you relax. Petting animals is proven to lower blood pressure, calm you, and release a bonding hormone called oxytocin. Snuggling in bed with your dog shows you have a strong bond.
However, sharing the bed with a bed hog is not always good for you. It can disrupt your sleep, stir up allergies or dirt into bed, create problems between you and your partner, or create dominance problems and possibly lead to aggression.
If your dog is creating sleep problems or wiggling between you and your partner, but you still want him close at night, designate a spot on the bed. Indicate the spot with a special blanket and show your dog it’s his.
If you are getting sick or worsening allergies, it might be Snuggles’ fault. Unfortunately, he might need to leave the bed or bedroom all together. You can take your pup to the vet to make sure he is healthy and up to date on vaccines and doesn’t have any parasites.
Your dog might take up the bed as a dominant move. However, if he shows signs of aggression or object guarding, you need to take action. Object guarding is when a dog growls, barks, and protects what they’ve defined as theirs. This can be anything from a bone to a sleeping space. One sign might be a dog welcoming one person into bed, but growling or barking at their partner. This is when you should take your dog to the vet or trainer to assess the situation and create a safe plan. If your dog tends to guard the bed, he might roll that behavior to the couch, sofa, or other areas in your house. Simply removing him from the bedroom won’t solve it.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Sleep is an important part of everyone’s day. If sleeping next to your dog makes you happy but is affecting your sleep or health, talk to a trainer about the bed issue to modify his bedroom behavior. Teaching commands to your dog such as “off” or “down” can help a bedtime routine be more successful.
A dominant dog may not be as problematic as an aggressive dog but in both situations, you are the master, the Alpha. Your dog should not be in control. Talk to a trainer about handling this so the dominance or aggression doesn’t escalate to other areas of your lives.
Just because your dog takes up space does not mean you need to buy a bigger bed. It might be pawsitively terrific to have your dog sleep next to you and your dog thinking of you as one of the pack is flattering. But keep in mind, you are in charge. Make sure you get your blanket and space back, even if you need to take Snuggles to a trainer. It’ll be worth it for a good night’s sleep and a balanced relationship.
Written by a Miniature Yorkie lover Stephanie Molkentin
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 02/15/2018, edited: 01/30/2020