Your dog has a perfectly good dog bed to sleep in, so why are they suddenly sleeping under your bed? Sleeping under your bed can be natural behavior or an indication that something might be wrong with your pet. So, you will want to do a little detective work.
Understanding dog psychology can help you understand why your dog is seeking comfort with the dust bunnies under your bed. We also have some ideas for coaxing your dog to sleep in its own bed again.
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A Little About Dog Psychology Related to Dens
Dogs may be domesticated, but some parts of their wolf instincts remain. Some of these traits govern how dogs react to external stimuli.
Like wolves, dogs aren’t so much den animals as animals that use dens when they need security. Wolves don’t use dens as permanent shelters. Instead, they use dens to keep their pups safe or as a place to retreat from bad or hot weather.
Because dog mothers sometimes build dens for their pups, dogs can associate enclosed spaces with the safety and security they felt with their mother during their puppyhood.
It is not uncommon for dogs to sometimes hide under beds or other furniture. Dogs enjoy the comfort of an enclosed “den” and might seek one if they are frightened, stressed, or sick. The enclosed space can make the dog feel safer.
Why Does My Dog Sleep Under the Bed?
There are several reasons why your dog might be sleeping under your bed. If sleeping under the bed is new behavior, it’s essential to figure out why.
1. They Want Privacy
Sometimes, a dog may decide to sleep under a bed because it wants privacy. If you have a busy house or there has been a change in your house, having a private space may make your dog feel more comfortable. Sleeping under the bed may provide your dog with a place that is calm, comfortable, and predictable.
2. They’re Afraid of Something
If your dog is afraid of something, it may be using the space under your bed as a place to hide. If it’s storming, the house or neighborhood is noisy, they hear fireworks, or there’s a new person in the house, they may be using the space under the bed as a safe place to hide.
When my dog is afraid of something, I use a soothing voice to help to calm it. Removing the thing that is scaring your dog can help coax it out from under the bed.
3. They’re Sick or Hurt
Your dog may be hiding as a way to cope with feeling bad. Being under your bed gives them a sense of comfort when they don’t understand why they’re not feeling well. If you can’t find any other obvious reason they are suddenly sleeping under your bed, a trip to the vet should be on your agenda.
Some other signs that your dog is in pain or is sick might include:
- Snarling and growling
- Snapping at you or others
- Hiding somewhere you cannot reach
- Being lethargic
- Losing their appetite
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Peeing and pooping indoors
4. They Have Something or Have Done Something They Shouldn’t
Dogs know when they’ve done something they shouldn’t. They will often hide in shame or hide to do something shameful. If your dog is sleeping under the bed, it could be because they have a secret stash of something they shouldn’t have.
If your dog suddenly does not want to sleep WITH you anymore… consider this option.
I’ve found my dog under my bed chewing on a favorite pair of leather shoes. But it’s more serious if they’ve hidden a bag of forbidden M&Ms under the bed.
5. Their Environment is Stressful
Do you have a busy house with lots of children, have guests over, have a new pet, or have someone new staying in your home? Some dogs get stressed with change or lots of activity and prefer to hide under furniture or sleep under the bed to feel safe.
Some other signs that your dog is stressed may include:
- Chewing their paws
- Destroying things
- Trying to escape
My dog is an introvert that needs to retreat to unwind. Your dog may hide under the bed for recuperation when it’s done with social connections and playing.
6. They Want to Be Close To You
If you don’t allow your dog to sleep on the bed, they might be sleeping under the bed to be closer to you because they don’t like to be left alone. If the dog follows you as soon as you get out of bed, it may have chosen the space under your bed as a sleeping space near you.
Should I Be Worried if My Dog is Sleeping Under the Bed?
If your dog has suddenly changed their habits to include sleeping under the bed, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is something wrong with your dog or its environment. Your dog may have just discovered a comfortable den for hanging out. However, it could also be a sign that your dog is stressed or sick.
Ask yourself if there have been any changes since your dog started hiding under the bed. Start paying attention when your dog retreats under the bed and take notes. And if there’s no obvious reason, take your dog to the vet.
How Can I Keep My Dog From Sleeping Under the Bed?
If you want to keep your dog out from under the bed, you need to figure out why the dog is under the bed and then provide a solution.
1. Visit the Vet
If there’s no obvious reason for anxiety nor any obvious changes in your dog’s life, the first thing you will want to do is to visit a veterinarian. Your vet can ask questions or run tests to help determine if your dog is sick.
2. Get Your Dog a Crate
According to American Humane, dogs who don’t have a crate may find space under furniture to serve as a den.
A crate can provide your dog with a place of its own to go when they need some alone time or feel a little insecure. If your dog has started sleeping under the bed, a crate can serve the same function. I like to drape a blanket over the top and put blankets inside to give a wire crate more of a den-like feel.
Once your dog starts seeing the crate as a place of sanctuary, it will use the crate instead of hiding under your bed at night.
3. Use Anti-Anxiety Medication
If you have discovered that your dog is sleeping under the bed because of anxiety and stress, your veterinarian might recommend medications or therapies to help with your dog’s stress.
Some medication options your veterinarian might suggest include:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine or clomipramine
- Selegiline (especially for older dogs)
- CBD oil
- Valerian root
- Natural therapies such as pheromones or aromatherapy
I’ve found that my dog is far calmer and less likely to hide if I mix a little Rescue Remedy for Pets in some warm milk before a thunderstorm hits.
4. Desensitization Training for Anxiety
If your dog has anxiety about something that won’t change (like a new person living in the house), desensitization training can help calm your dog. Desensitization training involves exposing your dog to the thing that they’re anxious about in small doses and low intensities.
Repeated exposure to the source of anxiety and rewarding positive behavior can help overcome anxiety over time. For example, if your dog gets a treat every time it thunders, it will start to associate thunder with something good.
5. Give Them a Treat When They Come Out
If your dog is spending time sleeping under the bed, reward them when they sleep in their dog bed, use their crate, or curl up on the rug instead. If it starts associating a different place with treats, that place will become a source of comfort.
Conclusion: Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few more related questions you might have.
Is It Safe for My Dog to Sleep Under the Bed?
There is no reason your dog would be unsafe under your bed. In fact, your dog may feel safer under the bed, especially if something has changed in your home.
Do Dogs Hide When They Are Sick?
Dogs instinctively find a place to hide and rest when they are sick. Even without predators to worry about in your home, your dog may give in to these instincts and seek out a safe place to hide.
Why You Shouldn’t Let Your Dog Sleep in Your Bed?
In general, dogs are fine to let sleep in your bed. Over half of dog owners do! The reasons against are that dogs can pass on fleas and ticks to their owners or trigger allergies. Dogs also disrupt sleep by snoring and hogging the bed. If you have a puppy, your bed may never recover from a potty training accident.