Do Dogs Know When Humans Are Sleeping?

For over 30,000 years, dogs have been humanity’s best friend. It was way before cows and horses still lived in the wild. So it comes as no surprise why dogs are loyal to humans. We have history!

Ever wonder, “do dogs know when humans are sleeping?”

do dogs know when humans are sleeping
Do dogs know when humans are sleeping?

Dogs certainly know when you are sleeping. They use intuition and observation to monitor their owner’s moods and habits. Your dog uses their sense of sight, smell, touch, and intuition to tell that you’re sleeping.

Here’s a closer look at how dogs know when humans are sleeping and why they check up on you while you’re resting.

Can Your Dog Tell When You Are Asleep?

No doubt, your dog knows when you’re asleep. However, the intriguing question is how they know. Every second your dog spends around you is an opportunity for them to learn something new about you. It’s all they do.

They pick up information from observing you.

Dogs know you are sleeping through various senses such as:


Dogs can see that your eyes are shut and that you are sleeping. Other observations that reveal you are sleeping are the movements and shifts you make.

In the light, dogs see five times dimmer than humans do. However, they can see five times better than humans do in the dark. Whether the lights are on or off, your pooch can still use their eyes to check your breathing and body movements.

blue eyed Weimaraner puppy
A blue eyed Weimaraner puppy lays on the ground.


Dogs have an impeccable sense of smell. They have thousands of scent receptors on their noses, making their sense of smell 10,000 to 100,000 times better than humans. These senses identify chemical changes occurring in their owner’s body during sleep. 

Surprisingly, your pup can use your scent to tell how happy, sad, angry, or sick you are.

dog sniffing the grass
A dog sniffing the grass.


Even when your dog has their bed right next to yours, they wait until you are asleep to shift to your bed. It’s the elusive yet irresistible cuddle that they are after.

Upon touching you, your fur ball will feel muscle relaxation and release tension, which happens as you fall asleep.

cute dog awake in bed
What you need to know when your dog won’t go to sleep


The jury is still out on whether or not dogs can tell time. Ever notice how dogs sit right by their bowl before it’s time for you to pour them some food? Either they can read the time, or they’ve studied your patterns enough to know when you usually feed them.

In the same way, dogs can observe shadow movement as the sun goes down, alerting them that it’s almost time to sleep.

Best Dog Food For Pugs
A Pug dog livings it best life (and loving the best food for Pugs)


Also known as the sixth sense, dogs can use intuition to tell that you are asleep. Think of intuition as a combination of information gathered from all the dog’s senses.

Why Your Dog Checks on You When You’re Sleeping?

Now you have the answer to “do dogs know when humans are sleeping?” But why do pooches check up on you when you’re sleeping?

How many times have you woken up to your pup sniffing or licking your face? You may find this habit annoying or adorable. While they don’t want to upset you, their need to make sure you are okay is much greater.

Other reasons why your dog may be checking on you include:

labrador with sleeping owner
A Labrador guarding his sleeping owner.

Pure Love

It’s their little way of saying, “I love you.” Their pestering, sniffing, and jumping on your bed will wake you up. They miss you and want to be close to you.

They’re Asking for Something

The potty, water, food, company, and play are the top reasons your dog checks up on you. It’s not that they want to interrupt your sleep, but what they want cannot wait.

Your dog may also wake you up while checking on you because they are anxious. Even when sleeping, your dog can suffer separation anxiety because you aren’t awake.


If your dog sleeps in a separate room from yours, they might come to check on you to make sure you are not in danger. Dogs know that you are not aware of your surroundings when you are asleep. They come close to you to study your surroundings and alert you to any impending threats.

Reasons Why Dogs Wake You Up

It matters not what time of day or night it is; if your dog needs to wake you up, they will. Your pooch will wake you up by snuffling around you, whining and barking, licking you, scratching the door, breathing near your face, or quietly sitting by your bed without removing their gaze from you.

Top reasons why your fur ball feels the need to wake you include:

  • They are ill: If they aren’t feeling too well, they know you can do something to make them feel better. Therefore, a dog will wake you up to tell you they need your help.
  • They are bored: This often happens if you take your nap when you’d typically be awake doing some other activity with or around your pup. Should they get bored, they’ll wake you up and ask to play.
  • They want to use the bathroom: If you forget to leave your door slightly open when you sleep, your dog may be forced to wake you up because they need to relieve themselves.
  • They sense a threat/danger: A loud noise outside, a stranger trying to get in the house, or pure instinct can trigger your pooch to bark loudly while you’re sleeping. Their goal is to alert you of the threat.
  • They are lonely: It could be that you were away the entire day and didn’t spend as much time with your dog before getting to bed. They may wake you up to cuddle or ask to sleep on your bed for company.
  • They want to play: Part of dog training involves teaching boundaries. If your dog understands that you shouldn’t be disturbed when sleeping, yet they still do, you’ve probably made it a habit to play with them at night.
owner hugging a puppy
An owner snuggling with her puppy.

Why Does Your Dog Protect You When You Sleep?

Your beloved Poodle may be the most adorable ball of fur during the day, but it’s time for no games when you’re sleeping. Your pup fiercely standing guard outside your door is a common habit you easily overlook. But if you are curious enough, you’ll notice that they are standing guard as you sleep.

Your dog wants to protect you when you’re sleeping because:

They Just Woke Up Too

Humans take a moment to become fully alert once they wake up from deep sleep. Aware that you aren’t fully awake, your pet will fill in for you by warning you or simply looking around as you slowly wake.

dog yawning
A dog yawning in a bed.

Pack Instinct

Your dog may know you’re their boss. They also see you as a member of their pack, the leader. In a dog pack, other members serve the leader by offering protection.

They know they increase their chances of survival by staying together.

Protecting you as you sleep is your pooch wanting to ensure that the most critical member of their pack is safe.

different dog breeds
Different dog breeds posing together.


Even without seeing who or what the problem is, your fur ball can bark to protect you. Often, people are made aware of their physical state by dogs that wake them up. It may have been a nose bleed, a nightmare, or an intruder.

Thanks to their protective senses, you are now okay.

Final Say

So, now we have the answer to the question, “do dogs know when humans are sleeping.” It’s incredible how intelligent dogs are. Even with the intelligence of a 2.5-year-old, they can understand far more than numerous studies prove.

Dogs wake up many times at night and can sense changes around them.

Upon quick assessment of the situation, they can either wake you up or go back to sleep. Trust their observant and insightful nature. Every time your pooch wakes you up, try and figure out why.

Warning or nuisance, your dog is an excellent company for you when you are awake. The same should apply when you are asleep.