Why Does My Dog Sleep or Lay So Close to Me?

By: Ruth O'Neil

Most pet owners love when their dog sleeps or lays close to them. It keeps you both warm and strengthens your bond. But why do they do it?

There are several reasons why your dog might seek such closeness from you. In most cases, it’s probably a combination of factors compelling them to do it. 

Below, read about five reasons your dog snuggles right next to you. You’ll appreciate their sweet behavior, even more, when you know why they do it.

They’re Following Their Instincts

Dogs are pack animals in the wild. That means they know they need their community for survival. It’s what makes them such good pets in the first place: they instinctually need to become a member of your family.

Your puppy didn’t learn this lesson from other dogs or you. Instead, they were born knowing it. Every animal’s brain is pre-wired to seek specific behaviors to ensure the continuation of the species. 

For dogs, one of these behaviors is membership in a pack. The pack hunts together, keeps each other warm, protects, breeds, and meets different needs. It also explains why separation anxiety can be so painful for a dog since it is vital to stay close to its pack.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons dogs feel so compelled to snuggle close.

They’re Feeling Protective of You or Seeking Protection

One reason your dog might lay close to you is to protect you, seek protection from you, or both simultaneously.

If you observe a pack of wolves in the wild, you’ll notice that they sleep very close together, practically on top of each other. One of the reasons they do this is to make them look larger to potential prey.

Why does your dog lay with its back to you? Evolution has an explanation for this, too. Laying in this manner also allows the dogs on the outside to keep watch for the rest of the pack. 

When they lay this way, the dogs on the outside stay alert and aware, giving the pack a 360-degree view of anything coming their way. 

Your dog isn’t necessarily afraid of an imminent threat when they lay with their back to you, so you don’t need to worry that they’re stressed. They’re simply following an instinct that tells them what to do naturally.

Still, pay attention to other signs of anxiety in your dog, which can include:

  • Going to the bathroom in the house
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Pacing, whining, or barking for no apparent reason
  • Excessive drooling or panting
  • Lethargy
  • Destructive behavior

If you’re worried, try some expert-approved tricks to help ease their stress.

They’re Chilly

Another reason why your dog cuddles close to you is for warmth. Once again, in the wild, dogs do this out of necessity. They lay together to trap their collective body heat. 

Using and preserving each other’s warmth also helps them save valuable energy. Wild animals don’t get kibble twice daily, so conserving calories is necessary. The harder an animal’s body works to keep it warm, the more food it needs to do that work.

We’ve already established that your dog thinks of you as a member of its pack, so it’s natural that they’ll seek you for warmth, too. After all, you provide most of their other needs.

What are some other signs your dog is cold? If you’re concerned that your pooch is freezing, look for these indications:

  • Tucking their tail and lying in a tight ball
  • Reluctancy to move, mainly once they’ve laid down
  • Laying on soft, heat-absorbent surfaces like blankets and rugs; avoiding cold surfaces
  • Lifting their paws off the ground one at a time
  • A general sense of agitation, including whining, barking, and restlessness

The best thing you can do for a chilly dog is to make your home warmer. If that’s unreasonable, talk to your vet about what to do. You may need to buy some doggie sweaters!

Puppies Seek Heat and Companionship From Birth

You’ve Reinforced the Behavior

Who doesn’t enjoy it when their dog wants to be close to them? For that reason, you may have knowingly or unknowingly reinforced the behavior in your dogs.

Think about how you react when your dog lays right next to you. If you’re anything like us, you greet your pup warmly, perhaps stroking their ears or patting their head while telling them how good they are. Your dog’s brain and body react to this.

If you’ve started reading this article to encourage your dog to be closer to you, these are great tactics to try! You can also keep small, healthy treats. Just be sure to use them to reinforce the snuggling, not just your dog coming to you. 

They know their survival depends on you, so they feel safe and secure when you approve of them. That causes their body to release positive hormones that let them settle down and snuggle up even closer.

It’s good for you, too. Studies show that dogs are good for mental health in humans for many reasons. One of them is that they help fulfill our need for love, affection, and positive relationships.

They Simply Love You

Another big reason why your dog wants to lay near you is that they love you, which says a lot about you as a person.

Dogs are incredibly loyal, but like most animals, you have to earn their fidelity. How do you earn a dog’s love? That comes from consistently meeting their needs and providing a happy, healthy environment.

When you do that, you can expect all kinds of expressions of love from them. They’ll not only sleep and lay close to you but greet you in ecstasy when you walk in the door, comfort you when you’re sad, and share in your joys.

Rejecting Dog Cuddles Is Bad for Their Health

If you push your dog away or physically separate them from you, it can cause severe stress for them. Try to find a way to meet their needs within your boundaries, especially at times when they are naturally tentative and sensitive.

Enjoy Your Sweet Dog’s Cuddles

The old mantra is true; dogs really are man’s best friend. Part of the reason for this is their pack mentality. It causes them to crave and seek physical and emotional closeness to you and your family. 

As you can see, there are several reasons why your dog sleeps and lays so close to you. They seek protection and warmth, and they want to please you. Whatever the reason, it’s one of the many things dogs do that makes us love them so much!

Photo of author


Ruth O'Neil
Owner of two bouncy Cockapoos, Jasper and Harley. whose energy knows no bounds!

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