I was looking for our Australian Shepard, Juno, the other night when I walked into our bedroom only to find two furry legs and a pink belly sticking out from under the bed. There she was sleeping under our bed again. I thought to myself that I can’t be the only one to think “why does my dog sleep under my bed and is it normal?”
Sleeping under the bed is a behavior rooted in the fact that dogs are den animals. It’s completely normal and typically harmless. In rare cases, it could be a signal that something is wrong. Dogs will wiggle under the bed for the following reasons:
- Comfort – it’s cozy and smells like you
- Sense of Safety
- Cooler temperature
While this behavior is typically harmless and is nothing to worry about, there are a few things to be aware of so that you are reading your canine companion correctly.
In this article I will cover the following:
- Why does your dog sleep under the bed?
- What to do if you don’t want your dog sleeping under your bed
- Related Questions
Why does your dog sleep under the bed?
As domesticated as dogs are, they still have some instincts remaining from their life in the wild. Dogs are den animals by nature, just like foxes, coyotes, and wolves. A den or in this case any tight space they deem safe, is something they may seek out from time to time for a few different reason
The main reason your dog is crawling under your bed may be that it’s just a cozy spot. For your dog, there are two main instinctual behaviors being satisfied here: 1) they are finding a den and 2) the scent of the pack is all around that “den”.
While we may think that sleeping under the bed can’t be anywhere near as comfortable as their dog bed, your dog may not see it like that. For them, this checks a lot of the boxes for a great place to hangout or nap.
Sense of Safety
Similarly, as for comfort, your pooch may also just feel safer under the bed. People need space to get away sometimes and dogs sometimes want that two. There may be other animals, kids, etc. that your dog may just want a little reprieve from.
Sometimes when the boys are being extra loud or swinging from the chandeliers, Juno will choose to retreat to either under the bed upstairs or behind one of the couches rather then join in the festivities. She is not afraid or anxious about it, sometimes she just wants to be excluded from the chaos. Truth be told, I wish I could join her sometimes.
You dog may retreat to their “den” if your have kids, other dogs, or guests over. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but something to keep an eye on. You always want to make sure that your dog is not going under the bed or seeking shelter because they are overstressed.
Sometimes all that hair or fur may just be too much. Especially if the sun has been beating on the house all day. A nice dark cool place could be just what the “dog-tor” ordered (horrible dad pun, I know). This is especially true if you have hardwood, tile, or other hard surface that tends to be cooler.
Anxiety or Stress
While the behavior of sleeping under the bed or another tight space is a normal behavior, you want to make sure that your dog is not seeking this as a coping mechanism for a larger emotional stress. If there is something in their everyday life that they are retreating from, then you need to address this and desensitize them to the noise.
Below is a great video for desensitizing training:
Illness or Pain
If your dog seems to randomly start sleeping under the bed or another tight spot for long periods of time, this may be a sign that they are sick or in pain. It is in a dogs instinct to seek shelter while they are healing. So it is important that you take the time to figure out exactly why there was a change in behavior and why they may be seeking shelter.
If you notice that your dog does not seem to be acting as they normally do and you feel it may be due to pain or illness, please contact your vet right away.
What to do if you don’t want your dog sleeping under your bed
So maybe you either don’t want your dog to sleep under your bed or you want to give them a safe alternative. There are a couple of things you can do for this.
First of all, block off the entrance under the bed. You can put some storage or other objects to obstruct access under the bed.
We actually do a modified version of this for Juno. We have suitcases and some other storage totes blocking about three quarters of the bed. This gives her an area of about a quarter of a queen-size bed. This keeps her from going too far under the bed. That way if we have an emergency, or for any reason that we may need to get her, we can reach her. However, you can block off your bed entirely to discourage your dog from getting under
Secondly, provide a safe alternative “den”. Okay, so you’ve blocked off your bed. Now you need to give your pup a good alternative. An excellent option is to set up a crate for your pup.
A big mistake that many people make, one I made myself before, is to set up a metal crate without any cover over the top. You can purchase one that will fit your create, but you don’t need to. If you have a spare blanket or towel you can place it over the top.
Just make sure that you leave a small space open at the bottom of the crate – 3″-4″ should do. This will allow your dog to see what is going on around them without feeling exposed.
One other option that I stumbled upon recently, are enclosed dog beds. They are basically the same concept as a crate, but without a door. This is a really cool option if you don’t want to lock your dog up, or you have a dog that isn’t a fan of crate training.
So, after considering all the information above, the good news is that this behavior is totally normal and is typically nothing to worry about. Just makes sure you’re paying attention to your furry friend to gauge if this is due to anxiety, stress factors, illness, or pain. Again, if you believe your friend is in pain, call a vet and get them checked out!
This mainly depends on what you want and the pooch. If you are fine with it and your dog is respectful, there are actually a lot of benefits. If you aren’t a fan, there are also some things you can do to keep you dog happy off the bed. To read more about this check out my article HERE
As pack animals, it’s hardwired in dogs, as soon as they are born, to seek the safety of the pack. Your dog is seeking the safety with you and bonding. It’s a huge compliment from your pup. I go into a little more detail in an article one this. To read more click HERE.
Your dog sleeps on your clothes because they smell like you. Your scent on your clothes give your dog comfort and make them feel safe. Additionally, they’re putting their scent on you. This is all part of the pack bonding that is hardwired into your dog. To read more about this in another one of my articles, click HERE.