Why Do Dogs Lay on You?

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Dogs Lay On YouFor some people, having their best friend hang out with them all day is a dream come true, especially if they have a strong bond. But not everyone will appreciate when their dog piles on top of them without warning which may lead them to question why their pet doesn’t seem to have any personal boundaries. In this article, we discuss why dogs lay on you and address the most obvious reasons behind your dog’s behavior. 

Why Do Dogs Lay on You? 

Whenever a dog lays down next to their pet parents, you may wonder whether this is a normal social interaction or if it’s attention-seeking behavior. If your dog uses your body as its resting place, you’ll be happy to know that cuddling with you brings them great comfort. However, this may not be the only reason — below are the main reasons why your dog sleeps on you.  

1. Cuddling is Part of their DNA 

The first reason why your dog lies down next to you is because they’re pack animals that thrive with their family members. They also descended from wolves which are social animals that love to provide warmth and companionship to pack members. It’s this kind of pack mentality that is inborn in all dogs and will often include their dog parents as part of their pack to provide the same sense of comfort. 

This instinct starts from the moment they’re born and puppies will often burrow into their mothers to sleep together and share body heat. They will continue to look for this kind of closeness even into adulthood whether it’s with another dog or with their favorite human. 

2. They Want to Give Affection

Dogs will also sleep or lie down with their humans as a sign of affection — whether you’re awake or asleep, dogs will always want to spend quality time with you. Doing this with them will help to form a strong bond between you and your cuddle buddy because they’ll feel that their love is being reciprocated.  However, you should note that some dogs will be more affectionate than others. 

Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Golden Retrievers, the Great Dane, and the Labrador Retriever are among the most cuddly and gentle dogs around. On the other hand, there are friendly breeds that don’t necessarily like cuddling such as Chow Chows, Afghan Hounds, and Irish Wolfhounds, which are highly independent dogs. 

3. They’re Looking for Protection

While domestic dogs won’t face the dangers that wolves and wild dogs go through on a daily basis, our pups will still retain the same protective instinct. In the same way that wolves stay in a huddle for warmth, they also like to stay together for protection, which dogs apply to their humans. Being close to their owners can provide dogs with a sense of safety and calm, which is especially important during stressful situations such as fireworks or thunderstorms. 

Rescue dogs, in particular, may also need more attention compared to others since they may need to recover from traumatic experiences. So the next time that your canine companion enters your personal space, it’s probably because they seek a safe place that only you can provide. 

4. They Feel Separation Anxiety

While there are a number of reasons why dogs will sleep next to their owners, one of the more worrisome is because they’re going through separation anxiety. Any dog can develop this condition, but there are breeds more prone to it, such as the German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, and Catahoulas. Other signs of this condition include defecating and urinating indoors, barking, as well as destructive behaviors such as chewing whenever they’re alone.   

A pet owner who suspects that their pet might have separation anxiety should think about conditioning them to develop a positive association with spending time alone. You can do this by giving them chew toys and dog treats, but your vet may also prescribe supplements or anxiety medication for severe cases. 

5. They’re Trying to Get Your Attention 

Sometimes, laying down next to you is a dog’s way of getting your attention, and will sometimes lie on top of their owners to let them know that they’re looking for something. This could be due to a need to go to the bathroom, signaling their desire to be fed, or they just want to start playing with you. If they don’t get your attention the first time, they may turn to other dog behaviors such as pawing, whining, or even scratching the door. 

6. They’re Asserting Their Dominance

This goes back to their pack mentality — it’s common for the alpha dog to lay on top of their humans to show their dominance and assert their position as the pack leader. In other words, this is how they express their desire to be the top dog and that they are in control of the house. Similarly, beta dogs will lie next to their humans to express their loyalty but to tell the difference between these two, pay attention to their body language and look for signs of aggression, which will point to dominance.    

While “Dominance Theory” was once the best to train dogs, they’re not wolves anymore, and using fear-based tactics and punishment isn’t the best way to curb aggression in dogs anymore. Dogs today will benefit more from strong leadership, positive reinforcement, and a close bond with their family and owners. 

7. They’re Spreading their Scent to You 

Unfortunately, dogs like marking their territory through peeing but once they’re trained by a professional dog trainer to stop spreading bodily fluids around your home, they’ll find other ways to do so. This includes displaying physical closeness by laying on top of you, which might happen more often when you have visitors of the furry kind. Because dogs are naturally territorial, they will do whatever they can to establish that you are their human. 

8. They Can Feel When You’re Sick 

Dogs are very intuitive creatures and have the ability to sense when you’re not feeling well. In the same way that you care for them when they’re unwell, they will also lay against you or on top of you to show their love and protection. You may also find that your dog won’t be as demanding during this time, and may not ask for much playtime or exercise. 

They know that you’re tired and will behave accordingly to ensure that you won’t overexert yourself.  

Sleeping Positions for Dogs 

Now that you know the most common reasons why dogs might sleep on you, it’s time to understand how you can harmoniously share your bed with your buddy. And if you think that not all dog lovers sleep with their pups, you’re not alone. According to the Sleep Foundation, at least 56% of dog owners sleep with their good boys and girls. 

While some people may argue that dogs should stay in a dog bed, some experts believe that there’s no possible reason as to why dogs can’t sleep in their owner’s bed. If you feel that you agree with other dog lovers, you might find that your pup sleeps in some weird positions. This is what they mean: 

  • Between Your Legs: This is the most popular sleeping position for dogs because it gives them comfort and warmth while serving as a buffer for loud noises.
  • Under Your Blanket: Dogs generally like burrowing under covers to get a sense of security but some dog breeds are more likely to burrow compared to others. This behavior stems from their ancestors who used to dig tunnels and search for prey underground. 
  • Curling into a Ball: Some dogs will sleep while in a curled-up position where their front and back legs are tucked in while their head is placed forward. This will help them stay warm as they drift off to sleep but may also signal anxiety in some cases.  
  • Next to Your Neck or Face: Some dogs, puppies, in particular, will choose to sleep next to your face or neck to feel comfort and body heat from you. 
  • Next to Your Head: Your dog might use your pillow to support their head just like you do. This is actually an act of love because your pillow will carry your scent and your dog will always love your particular scent. 

Why You Should Allow Your Pooch to Lie on You 

Doing this isn’t just beneficial to you but for yourself too! Below are just a few reasons why you should always welcome physical contact with your dog.

  • It Helps Lower Blood Pressure: Many people call it the “pet effect” — a study done by Harvard has revealed that our blood pressure can go down as we pet our dogs. Moreover, pet ownership can affect the overall levels of heart disease and may lower it. 
  • It Can Ease Depression: Cuddling with your pooch can help to release oxytocin, our “feel-good” hormones that are linked to positive emotions that may help to combat depression. 
  • Improves Your Sleep Quality: If you suffer from insomnia, having your dog sleep with you may help. Dogs can mitigate hyperarousal and anxiety which helps to give you better sleep. This is the reason why emotional support dogs are usually involved in sleep therapy. 
  • It Can Make You Feel Safe: A study from 2018 confirmed that pets can play a role in the improvement of sleep quality in women. Participants found that they feel safer and more comfortable when sleeping with a dog at night. 
  • They’re Easier to Train: Cuddling with your pooch can help to form a special bond with them, which in turn will make it easier to train since they will have more desire to do anything you want them to.  


After a long day, it’s a good idea to spend time with your dog and be sure to get your family to do the same as members of their pack. The best way to understand why your dog likes to lie next to you is to watch their body language; we’ve set great examples above to be able to tell the difference between submissive and aggressive behavior. Dogs will always give us unconditional love, and one of the best feelings in the world is having a deep connection with them through daily cuddles.