As a dog parent, one of the most fulfilling moments is when your dog comes over to you and trustingly plops their entire body onto you for snuggles. Whether they want to sleep on you or just cuddle as you hang out on the couch, it is one of those moments that makes all the difficulties of dog parenting worth it.
There are many reasons why dogs lay on their human companions but it is their desire to express affection that stands out the most. And if you don’t mind the invasion of personal space, it is okay to let your dog lay on you and relax.
However, there are a few reasons why it may not always be the best idea to let your dog get too comfortable making a dog bed out of you.
In the upcoming sections, you will learn more about why your dog may be laying on you, why it may not always be a good idea, and how you can stop the habit if you are uncomfortable with it.
Why Do Dogs Lay On You?
The most common reason why dogs lay on their favorite humans is to communicate their love and affection. It is a big sign of trust, especially if the dog ends up taking a nap while they are there, as it is a very vulnerable position.
However, this is not the only reason why your dog may be using you as a bed. Here are a few more possible explanations of this habit.
When dogs are afraid, they instinctively seek refuge from places or people that make them feel safe and comfortable. If you are that person to your dog, they may lay on you when they feel scared and need a secure space to rest.
In this case, you may notice that your dog is restless or increasingly vocal, leading up to them leaning on you.
To Protect You
On the other hand, your dog may be laying on you as a way to protect you. This will most likely happen when you are asleep, in which case you will probably find them laying on your head or your chest where you are the most vulnerable.
If your dog just walks up to you, lays their head on the part of your body, then proceeds to do something like bark, lick you, stare at you, or turn on their back, the chances are that all they want is some attention.
This may be due to boredom or as a way for your dog to remind you that it is playtime.
Another reason why your dog may choose to lay on you, especially when you are asleep, is to get warmth. They get this from their puppy days, where they would pile up on top of each other or on top of their mother to stay toasty.
So if it is cold outside or the air conditioning is a bit too high, don’t be surprised if your furry best buddy snuggles up for some of your precious warmth.
Is It OK To Let Your Dog Lay On You?
If you are comfortable with your dog laying on you, it is perfectly alright to let them do so. You just have to ensure that you are not allergic to pet dander and that your dog is clean.
If all this checks out, it is actually a really good idea to let your dog lay on you. Here are 3 of the most important perks of this habit.
Your dog will lay on you as a way to show you that they love and trust you. While this habit allows them to affirm their trust, it is also a great way for you to develop a stronger connection with your pooch.
Reassuring Scared Doggies
If you have a new doggy, especially a traumatized one, it helps to let them lay on you for comfort as a part of your steps to break down their emotional walls. With time, your dog will understand that they have found a safe and loving forever home.
Reduces The Dog’s Stress
Studies have shown that physical contact helps to reduce stress hormones like cortisol in dogs. Letting your dog lay on you also counts as physical contact and could do wonders for your dog.
In this case, it doesn’t matter whether the source of your dog’s distress is physical or psychological. It is particularly useful for sick dogs whose stress hormone levels are typically through the roof.
Should You Let Your Dog Lay On You?
There are several reasons why it may not always be a good idea to let your dog lay on you, with the most important being allergies to pet dander.
If you are sensitive to things like dog fur or saliva, letting your dog lay on you is a terrible idea as it will simply worsen your allergies.
Let’s take a look at some other reasons why you may want to stop your dog’s habit of laying on you.
May Be Unhygienic
Dog fur, paws, and saliva are common with germs and parasites like ringworm and even fleas. By letting your dog lay on you, especially in your bed, you increase your chances of getting exposed to these pathogens.
The effects can be as simple as skin irritation or as serious as life-threatening systemic infections.
Lack Of Personal Boundaries
If you believe in setting personal boundaries between yourself and your dog, allowing them to lay on you could be undoing all the progress you may already have made.
The lack of these personal boundaries could have your dog getting too comfortable with you or other people in inconvenient locations or circumstances. It is thus best to discourage such habits before you have to pull your pooch off some poor stranger in public that they try to cuddle.
Worsens Separation Anxiety
For dogs with separation anxiety, increasing physical contact could worsen their condition. Letting your anxious dog lay on you is a temporary solution to the problem and will have them feeling calm and safe for a little while.
However, it only makes the recovery process harder as they get attached to you. Creating these physical boundaries is a form of tough love treatment that will hurt you both at first but will definitely work in the long run.
How To Stop Your Dog From Laying On You
Whether you want to stop your dog from laying on you as a way to set boundaries or for the sake of your personal health, one of the best ways to do it is through training. Here is a bit more on this and other strategies that could come in handy when dealing with a clingy doggy.
Positive reinforcement training can be very useful when trying to get your dog to stop sleeping on you. It could be something as simple as giving your dog treats for sleeping on the corner of the bed or on their doggy bed.
It also helps to ignore the habit you are trying to avoid. So don’t pet or praise your dog for laying on you as it will be sending mixed messages.
Give Them A Cozy Alternative
If your dog is using you as a pillow or dog bed for warmth or comfort, it may help to give them a better alternative if you want to stop the habit.
Consider investing in a good-quality doggy bed and train your pooch to use it. If they already have one, find a spot in the house that is warm and secluded enough to give your scared doggy a sense of security.
Get The Dog Their Own Room
If you have space to spare, you may have to move your dog’s bed to a different room to get them to stop laying on you. They will definitely resist at first, and you can expect a lot of late-night tantrums.
However, they will eventually learn to have their doggy bed be their safe sleeping space and not their body. At this point, you can consider moving their bed back into your bedroom.