Why Do Dogs Sleep At The Foot Of The Bed? [Sleep Positions Explained]

Reviewed and Fact-Checked by Veterinarian Charlotte Stiles (DVM)


For many of us, our dogs sleep in our bedroom. For lots of people this means their dog actually sleeps on the bed!

why do dogs sleep at the foot of the bed
Why do dogs sleep at the foot of the bed?

In fact research has shown that more than 50% of dogs sleep in the bedroom of their owners.

If your lifestyle and training means your dog can sleep in your bed, this is not an issue. There are great positive arguments for why a dog can sleep in your bed.

Our puppy Max was crate trained, but has slowly transitioned to sleeping in the room with us. He always chooses two positions. Either by the door, or at the foot of the bed. It got me wondering why this is so? Why do dogs sleep at the foot of the bed? 

Why Do Dogs Sleep At The Foot Of The Bed?

All that brings us to finding out why dogs sleep at the foot of the bed, and the meaning of dogs sleeping at our feet.

Dogs sleep at the foot of the bed due to the nature of the family pack bond, and practicality. 

  • Some dogs are child-like and defer authority to you, and sleep at your feet out of respect. 
  • Other dogs are very protective and sleep there to protect you from threats. 
  • Some dogs also suffer from the anxiety of separation, and they sleep at your feet so they are ready to spring into action when you move your feet.
  • Other dogs just gravitate towards the area of the bed where there is the most space to spread out and enjoy a good night snooze

Should Dogs Be Allowed Onto The Bed

A healthy and happy dog can sleep on your bed. In fact, over 50% of dog owners allow their dog to sleep in their bedroom.

There are arguments in both directions about whether dogs should be allowed onto the bed.

why do dogs sleep foot of bed
Some dogs sleep on the floor at the end of your bed.

The best arguments why you shouldn’t allow a dog to sleep in your bed are

  • Allergy suffers should reduce contact during times it is not necessary
  • Dogs can disrupt sleep, which can impact on our health. Deep sleep is vitally important to overall healthy (Mayo clinic)
  • Crate training as a puppy and in older life can actually prevent and fix behavioural issues
  • If your dog has inappropriate thoughts that it is the leader of the pack, sleeping where you sleep is not helpful
  • Dog to human transmission of diseases and illness is rare, but possible

Counterpoints and great reasons why dogs should be allowed onto the bed are

  • A study by the Mayo clinic found no major difference in quality of sleep for those who lets dog sleep in their bed
  • You can closely monitor for any problematic behaviours
  • Dogs enjoy it, it can make them happy to be close to you
  • Some people feel more secure when their dog sleeps near them

In fact a study out of Canisius College in Buffalo NY found that women who slept with dogs reported sleeping more soundly and feeling more secure. This survey was 962 women, and they felt more secure than those who slept with a human (or a cat).

“If your dog sleeps in your bed, it’s important to wash your bedding more often than usually.”

Veterinarian Dr Charlotte Stiles (DVM)

Dog Sleeping At Your Feet Out Of Respect

Some dogs will sleep at your feet or at the end of the bed out of pack respect. It can be a bit of a stretch to think of a wolf when you think of a Labradoodle or Jack Russell. Dogs and wolves are in fact distant relatives of wolves.

The pack mentality is maintained in modern companion dogs.

The leader of the pack is given the most comfortable spot. Once the leader of the pack chooses their position, the rest of the back adapts and takes up the rest of the remaining space.

Given that modern companion dogs rarely sleep outside, where they sleep inside the house is an important choice.

So your dog choosing to sleep at your feet can be due to them respecting you as the leader of the family. Not all dogs have this mindset though, so there are other reasons you should consider.

a small puppy sleeping

Dogs Sleeping At Your Feet To Protect You

Some dogs take on a very protective personality streak towards one or more of their owners.

By sleeping at your feet they are ready to spring into action if it becomes necessary to protect your from an intruder, or a strange noise in the night.

Dogs often like to keep a watch out for danger. Dogs have excellent night vision, up to five times better than humans in low light conditions.

This is a common reason why your dog might be sleeping on your feet, or at the end of the bed. You need to consider all of the possible reasons to filter which one applies to your dog.

Not all dogs will take this approach. Some breeds are more likely than others to develop this protective streak. (For example, did you know that Labradoodles are more protective than Goldendoodles? More in our breed comparison of Labradoodles Vs Goldendoodles)]

The size of your dog does not mean your dog will be more or less protective. Some small or miniature dogs are fiercely defensive. Some very large dogs (think Bernedoodle) are giants and tend to have a relaxed docile nature.

happy dog sleeping on a bed

Sleeping At Your Feet Due To Anxiety or Attachment

Some dogs are really, really worried that you might leave. These dogs have really high attachment, or suffer from separation anxiety.

A dog that is worried you might leave will sleep at your feet (or by the door). They do this so they are alerted ASAP that you might be leaving them. This gives them time to try and convince you to stay.

Dogs that are suffering from separation anxiety can be anxious at the thought of you leaving. Separation anxiety is one of the leading causes of problematic behavior like excessive barking.

Dogs sleeping at the foot of the bed due to this cause is one meaning you need to be concerned with. A mild desire to keep track of your whereabouts is normal and healthy. IF your dog sleeps at your feet and goes berserk everytime you make a move, this might be a sign of problematic attachment.

If you think this is the cause, it is important to find out more about separation anxiety, and gradually introduce Vet and trainer-approved methods to lessen your dogs anxiety about you leaving.

An anxious dog in the long run will become a less healthy dog. You know for yourself how tiring times of stress and anxiety are. Dogs are the same, we need to make strategic moves to minimize stress.

Dogs Sleeping At Foot Of Bed Due To Space

Okay, this is by far the most practical reason that some dogs sleep at the end of your feet.

Dogs want to be close to us, but they also want to spread out and relax! Dogs love sleeping, and enjoy uninterrupted snoozing.

Sometimes the meaning of why dogs sleep at our feet is super simple. There is just more space there for them!

I think we all know that just like big dogs sometimes think they can hop in our laps, little dogs sometimes think they need a King-sized bed all to themselves.

Our miniature Labradoodle Max has his moments where he thinks he is a Saint Bernard and needs room to spread out. 

It can be this simple, sometimes there is no meaning for a dog to sleep at our feet, they just want space to chill out.

Why Does My Dog Sleep On My Side of the Bed?

Some dogs have a super-strong preference for one side of the bed. For couples, it creates the question “Why does the dog always sleep on my side of the bed!”

There are a few reasons that your dog might choose your side of the bed over your partners. 

  • It could be that the dog respects the other person so much that they would never take their spot (could make sense for us, our dog does super love my wife)
  • It can also be that the spot has features that makes it more appealing to the dog than anywhere else
    • Close to the door to monitor threats and your movements
    • Warmer or cozier for some reason (though dogs tend to prefer cooler spots than humans)
  • It can also be that your smell is extra reassuring and comfortable to the dog and this is why it chooses to sleep on your side. What a compliment!

The answer for why a dog sleeps on your side of the bed is really complicated and comes down to your individual dog. Hopefully the list above gives you some ammunition for a lively discussion with your partner!

For people who sleep alone – it is a little simpler. It is most likely a combination of your scent (your dog loves you) and good positioning to protect you. Both positives, a lovely sign of love from your dog.

a chihuahua sleeps on a bed

Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much

Dogs sleep all the time due to their biology. There will always be differences due to breed and age, but in general an adult dog will sleep about 50% of the time.

As puppies they are rapidly growing and sleep is a vitally important part of the growth process.

As older dogs they get tired more easily, and need more sleep to protect their brain health.

Dogs just don’t sleep the same as humans. You have seen it, humans can be slow to wake up and very groggy when they wake. Do you leap out of bed every single morning? We all know someone who is a grump whenever they wake up.

Now think about dogs, they typically are ready to spring into action. Dogs wake up very suddenly and can be happy and excited (or alarmed and barking) extremely quickly. 

This is because humans go into a much deeper sleep, and for longer. Deep sleep is very important to survival and health. Because dogs need to be alert and switched on, they have evolved to rarely enter deep sleep.

As a result dogs need more sleep to make up for the lack of deep sleep.

Dogs need to sleep, but if we do not exercise them enough they will not fall asleep. Without the healing positive effects of sleep, your dog is more likely to play up or exhibit unsociable behaviours. Tire your dog out mentally and physically using brain exercise. Here are 35 indoor dog games and activities that will keep your dog happy and entertained even if you are stuck inside.

french bulldog sleeping on the floor

Conclusions About Dogs Sleeping At Our Feet

There are a few reasons that dogs like to sleep on our feet, or dogs end up sleeping at the end of the bed.

The meanings of a dog sleeping at your feet are almost all positive. It is very rare you will need to intervene or change behaviour.

  • Dogs might be protecting us
  • Dogs might be at our feet to see if we are going anywhere
  • Dogs might just be finding the most spacious area that is still close to us
  • Dogs might also be respecting our position as the leader of the pack (not true for all dogs of course!

Did you know that dogs have excellent NIGHT VISION? They actually see up to five times better than humans in low light conditions. I found out all about how well dogs see in the dark in this in depth research article.