Why Does My Dog Lay His Head Over My Neck?

Dogs are affectionate, loving, and loyal creatures, but sometimes they may have behaviors that can annoy you, be frustrating, or pose a danger. One of these behaviors may have made you wonder, “Why does my dog lay his head over my neck?”

This behavior can melt your heart but should not be left unchecked. Dogs and puppies enjoy laying on their owners and will likely lie down anywhere they can fit. Whereas you may show affection by keeping your dog healthy, happy, and active, your dog may show affection by sitting in your lap or laying across any part of your body they can get.

why does my dog lay his head over my neck
Why does my dog lay his head over my neck?

Although laying their head across your neck may be affection, it may also mean discomfort, anxiety, or the desire to protect you. Redirect your dog with a new behavior so that you and your dog can remain happy and healthy. This gentle redirection can help them know they are still loved while encouraging new behaviors that do not have negative impacts.

Should I Let My Dog Lay His Head on My Neck?

Letting your dog lay their head on your neck can be dangerous and should never be done. Although you may feel regretful or guilty at having to redirect your dog from laying on your neck, your lovable pal mustn’t get into the habit of laying on critical parts of your body.

Additionally, if you plan on having children or having people in your home, you will likely not want your dog to lay over another person’s neck, which can make you liable for injuries.

It Can Be Dangerous

Dogs enjoy showing love and affection through cuddling, licking, and playing with their owners. However, when your dog has the habit of laying its head over your neck, you and your dog may be in danger.

Large dogs who lay their head on your neck can cause breathing trouble and neck pressure. Neck pains and strained muscles are an added disadvantage to this arrangement. Aches and pains aside, a dog with constant nightmares or kicks in their sleep may end up hurting you while laying on you and can cause facial damage, cuts, or bruising that may require medical attention.

dog lays head on the neck
The dog comfortably lays his head on the owner’s neck.

Dogs May Be Territorial

Multiple dogs may keep you stuck between two territorial dogs who want your undivided attention. Both dogs may try to lay on your neck, and this desire for attention can cause a fight or struggle that puts you in between the two.

Usually, dogs will not lay on your neck in a show of dominance. However, this concern can lead to injury and should be kept in mind.

two dogs fighting
Two dogs fighting, one being aggressive!

Why Does My Dog Lay His Head on My Neck?

There are many reasons why your dog might lay their head on your neck. Some dogs may have anxiety, want to protect you, or want your affection. In many cases, dogs may sleep with their head on their neck, but this can be dangerous.

Usually, sleeping with a dog’s head on your neck means that the dog wants to protect and keep you safe.

Sleeping with your dog is safe and can help ease anxiety and comfort dogs who struggle with isolation. However, your dog should never put their head on your neck during sleep.

Separation Anxiety

If your dog follows you around the house, is very attached to you, and doesn’t like to leave you alone for even a moment, they may have separation anxiety. If your dog then lays his head over your neck, this can confirm they have separation anxiety. Note how much your dog wants to be with you and what leads to them laying on your neck.

Consider practicing leaving the room at increasing intervals and training your dog to spend some time without you. As you practice, your dog may become more comfortable being alone.

German Shepherd nudge owner
German Shepherd nudges his owner to show affection.

They’re Offering Protection

Your dog may be offering protection to you and your family when they lay on your neck. This action is a heartwarming sentiment but can pose a danger. Consider looking around your home for anything your dog may see as a potential threat.

Removing these potential threats can keep your dog calm.

Goldendoodle carried by her owner
Behaved Goldendoodle carried by her owner.

They’re Cold

When your dog is cold, your neck may be one of the warmest places on your body and the most accessible places for them. This area can be a lucrative place to gather warmth and attention. If you are in a blanket and your dog wants to feel your skin on them, they may lay on your neck.

Ensure your dog always has a warm blanket or place to lay. Also, consider letting them curl up in the blanket with you.

dog feeling cold
Dog feeling cold with his owner with a warm blanket.

They Want To Cuddle

When your dog wants to cuddle with you, they may seek out an area close to your face to grab your attention and make their intention to cuddle known. Your dog may poke at your blanket and nudge you with paws or snout.

Look for signs of your dog wanting to cuddle, like leaning against you, nudging you, or whining for pets.

How To Manage Behavior?

Managing your dog’s behavior may seem daunting, but you can see success through several methods that will allow your dog to know that you care for their positive and kind behaviors. You can consistently follow up with your dog’s behavior management with a few methods. Whether you need to address separation anxiety or keep your dog feeling affection, there is a method for you.

Sleep Training

Consider sleep training your dog if they are laying their head on your neck while you or your dog are sleeping. Have a designated area for them to sleep. This area can help make your dog comfortable and keep them happy when they go to bed.

Sleeping with you may help your dog feel safe and less anxious.

dog sleeps on his bed
A dog sleeps comfortably on his bed hugging a stuffed toy.

Praise Your Pup

Give your dog plenty of praise when you move them, and they comply with your instructions. Hugs, kisses, and plenty of pats work perfectly for dogs just learning the ropes. Be consistent with your praise to help your dog adapt to better behaviors.

Jack Russell Terrier petting
Petting Jack Russell Terrier by his owner.

Show Them Better Forms of Affection

Show your dog how to be affectionate without laying on your neck. Encourage your dog to hug, lick, or lean against you instead of stretching across your neck. Consider using treats to encourage these acts of love and be consistent.

Praise and affection will also work to help them adopt better behaviors.

Rottweiler licks her owner
Rottweiler and her owner are playing at the park.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know the answer to “Why does my dog lay his head over my neck?” you can find ways to manage this behavior. However charming, your dog laying on your neck can be dangerous for you, your family, or any visitors you may have in your home.

With proper monitoring of their behaviors, you can discover why your dog lays on your neck and what you can do to help assuage any anxiety, fear, or discomfort they may have. Although this behavior may be your dog’s form of cuddling, it is vital to know and understand how your dog conveys affection, love, and discomfort.

Training your dog to stop laying on your neck is another factor and can be done without much trouble. Your dog may be able to sleep train to avoid this behavior or accept your love in a form that isn’t dangerous to both of you. You and your dog will have a better, calmer, and less stressful cuddling method in no time.