Dogs sleep under the bed to protect themselves from possible danger. Although there is likely no danger in your household, dogs are naturally den animals, so their instincts may kick in when it’s time to sleep. Under the bed provides them with a “den-like” experience, making your dog feel safe.
Is the mad-dash to dive under the bed something you’re familiar with? As mind-boggling as your pup’s obsession with fitting under the bed is, there are some very good reasons for the behavior.
Regardless of the reason your four-legged friend likes to sleep under the bed, there are things you can do to prevent the behavior.
If your pup could speak, this is what she’d have to say about it.
Fun Note: The rest of this article is written from “the dogs point of view”. We just thought we would have fun switching up the writing style. Hope you enjoy!
Hey, I’m Your Dog. Here’s Why I Like Sleeping Under The Bed
There are a lot of reasons why us dogs like to sleep under the bed. Just like people, we have our own eccentricities. Oddities notwithstanding, I’m going to tell you about the most common reasons my canine comrades and I sleep under the bed.
I Don’t Have a Pack to Watch My Back
I can’t sleep with one eye open, and my biology tells me that someone should be on the lookout if I’m out in the open.
Since I don’t have my pack, under the bed seems like the best place to sleep! It is cool, quiet, controlled, and not just anyone can wriggle under here with me.
If you want to add a few dogs to the house, I might be more willing to sleep elsewhere. If I’m enough canine love for you, though, you can help me find somewhere to sleep that makes me feel like I don’t have to be on alert.
I’ll tell you some of my favorite options later so you won’t have to get me out from under the bed anymore.
My Sibling is a Bully
I know I’m not the boss in this house, but my sibling sure thinks they are! I know I just said that having a pack could make me feel more comfortable, but my bossy brother makes me feel unsafe. If I go under the bed to sleep, I don’t have to worry about him hurting me while I rest.
Just like with humans, I must get enough good quality sleep. If I don’t, my health could suffer and you could see more destructive behaviors out of me.
If I’m worried about getting bullied when I sleep, you can probably see signs of the bullying while I’m awake.
Please pay attention to us! If my sibling is bullying me, he needs to learn how to be nice to me. Once he’s nice to me, I need to learn how to trust him again. We’re both going to need your time and patience to get through this and be a good family.
Your Human World is Very Stressful
I love you guys, I really do, but… I’m stressed out! There are too many loud noises, quick movements, or other things going on for me to feel settled out in the open. Going under the bed makes me feel like I’m in a safe, controlled space.
Please don’t tell me I’m a good dog if I’m hiding under the bed because I’m stressed. If you do, you’ll just be telling me that my reaction is the right one.
But… don’t tell me I’m bad either! I’m already uncomfortable, and you’re just going to ratchet up my stress level if you yell at me.
Instead, encourage me to come out and then comfort me. If you make me feel safe, I won’t need to sleep under the bed.
If you can give me another option that makes me feel safe, I’d love to sleep somewhere else! We’ll talk about my favorite options later.
I Did Something Bad…
I did something naughty (like tinkling in that corner!), and I thought it might be better to get out of your way for a bit. I didn’t want to stick around the scene of the crime and I really don’t like it when you punish me. Since I’ve heard you say I look like an angel when I’m asleep, I thought a nap was in order.
I don’t want to be a bad dog, but I need your help! If I’m camping out under the bed because I was bad, you should read up on things you can teach me to help me change my behavior.
You Might Not Know Everything About Me
First, if you adopted me, thank you! There are too many good dogs like me who don’t have loving families. You’re my hero!
Because you’re not my first person, you don’t know everything about how my life started. My first person wasn’t always nice to me, so I have some triggers that you might not have noticed yet.For example, I go to sleep under the bed when I think something terrible will happen to me.
Please pay attention! When I run away and quickly curl up under the bed, it isn’t about getting away from you; it’s about getting away from something that reminds me of bad times.
If you can notice when I do this, you can help me become more comfortable and confident by showing me that my bad memories aren’t my reality anymore.
I Might Need to See The Vet
If nothing I’ve told you so far sounds like my situation, I might need to go see the vet.
I’ve lived with you for a while and I just started sleeping under the bed, I might need a trip to the vet. Unfortunately, I don’t speak English, so I can’t tell you when something is wrong. This change in my behavior is the best I can do! Even though I don’t like the vet very much, she can run some tests to make sure I’m okay.
You Don’t Want Me Sleeping Under The Bed?
If you don’t want to take advantage of my under-bed time by honing my missing-sock-finding skills, we can work together to change my behavior. I’m about to tell you about my favorite alternatives to sleeping under the bed, but there’s something you need to know first.
You shouldn’t deny me access to space under the bed until we find an alternative that works for both of us.
If you block it off, I might dig or chew up whatever you’re using to block the space. If I don’t do anything like that, I’ll probably just be suffering silently: the stressful or medical situation that led me under the bed in the first place hasn’t magically gone away!
Please help me be safe and healthy by giving me a new space before taking away my option to sleep under the bed.
Make My Crate a Den of Wonders!
This is my very favorite option! If you want me to cuddle up and snooze in my own space, try turning my crate into my personal den full of my favorite toys.
Of course, I’d love it if you put a blanket over the top and three sides of my crate, so I’ll have a cool, dark, controlled space. But, if you give me something soft to lie on and a few of my favorite toys, it’ll be the best spot!
Make Me a Space Where You Spend The Most Time
I love spending time with you, but I still want my own safe space. So if you could make a space for me where you spend a lot of time, that would be great. Think of it as a dog fort: somewhere I can fit without too much extra space that only has one way in and out.
I’ll give you an example. If you have a couch and a loveseat, instead of pushing them together, leave a gap between them that I can fit into. I’ll love this space. Bonus points for you if you cover it for me. This would be ideal for me because I could be with you and still have my own safe space to retreat to.
If I just have some general anxiety, I may benefit from something that constantly presses up against me. I can’t always lean on you, but this constant touch could help me calm down and feel more comfortable out in the open.
Of course, this isn’t the best solution, and you’ll probably still need to help me work on why I like to sleep under the bed.
Help Me Learn How to Cope
Whether I need to feel safer or just need to learn to love an alternative sleeping space, I’m going to need your help.
You can help me the most by showing me that I’m safe and you love me, no matter what. Use positive reinforcement when I choose somewhere other than under the bed to sleep.
And, when I revert to sleeping under the bed, coax me out gently and help me get comfortable somewhere else. When I know I don’t have to be on alert, I’m much less likely to sleep under the bed.
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Bryan Harkins is an avid dog lover and the proud owner of dogdorable.com, a website dedicated to all things canine. With years of experience working with dogs, Bryan is passionate about providing valuable information, tips, and resources to help pet owners provide the best possible care for their furry companions.