Dogs surprise their owners with a lot of strange antics throughout the day. This happens more if their high energy levels aren’t channelized in the best possible way. When it comes to bedtime behavior, your dog would sometimes resort to odd things that could startle you to the fullest.
He may even give up his comfortable bed and opt for weird places to sleep for the night, which you couldn’t have imagined. So, did you ever spot your Fido going out in the garden to spend the night there? Or, were you surprised when you spotted your pooch lying comfortably near the stairs with his legs stretched? Well, there are umpteen reasons why your dog may change his sleeping position.
Some could be as simple as trying to experiment with a different location. While it could even be that your dog is stressed, and to find some relief, he makes a shift in his sleeping posture.
6 Reasons for Dogs to Suddenly Change Their Sleeping Position
When you find your dog making a shift from his regular sleeping location to a new place, do not panic. There could be several reasons behind the same. When you find out the root cause, you can help your dog in a better way. Let’s read on to know more.
1. Your Dog is on the Lookout for a Comfortable Spot
When we do not find comfort in our usual sleeping location, we shift to a new one, right?
Well, dogs, too, replicate the behaviors of their human friends. His bed may be hard, itchy, or worn out. It could even be a little noisy, perhaps due to the material and fabric that went into its making. That’s why your dog dislikes his bed and prefers to sleep in comfortable spots.
Moreover, if your dog has muscle or joint pain, he could find his crate small enough to stretch during sleeping. Thus he could shift to a spacious location like near the stairs or in the kitchen. Another possibility is that your dog has arthritis and is facing trouble climbing into his bed and out of it. He would retire to a favorable spot where he won’t have to climb or exert his muscles.
2. He’s Trying to Cope with the Changes in His Surroundings
Did you shift to a new home? Was your house renovated recently? Did you get another dog home, and does he share his dwelling with the other dog? In all these cases, it could be that your dog is trying hard to cope with the sudden changes. They aren’t able to accept their new crate in the new house. Or, your dog isn’t that willing to share his sleeping space with another dog. So, he could just move to a different spot in the house to seek comfort and solace.
3. Your Dog is too Hot or too Cold
Dogs cannot sweat as humans do. They resort to panting and even release heat through the nose and paw pads to regulate their body temperature. So when they get too hot or cold, their body becomes sensitive to such temperature changes.
It’s then that they find ways to warm up or cool down their bodies. While some breeds find it difficult to cope with cold weather, a few aren’t tolerant to the heat.
So, if you have breeds like a Pug, Chihuahua, Great Dane, French Bulldog, or Shih Tzu, you’ll find them taking extra precautions during the cold weather. If the room where their bed is located is cold, then the dogs might prefer sleeping in warmer spots. It could be in the living room close to the fireplace or in the room that has a heater installed. Some would even hop into your blanket for some warmth and comfort.
The same goes for summer. Your canine will feel more comfortable lying on the floor than in bed. They will even be more inclined to lie right in front of the AC. Huskies are among the many breeds that aren’t tolerant to heat.
4. Your Canine Desires to be Close to You
Almost every dog shares a close bond with their owner, though some are more clingy than others. Now some are called velcro dogs because of their increased tendency to be close to their owner or loved ones, following their masters everywhere. The breeds that fall under the category of Velcro dogs include French Bulldogs., Pugs, Chihuahuas, Golden Retrievers, Papillons, and the list goes on. Moreover, irrespective of the breeds mentioned here, the level of clinginess varies from one dog to the other, as each individual differs from the other temperamentally.
So, if you have a highly clingy dog, chances are that he’ll barely leave your side when you are around. It’s quite evident that it will end up sleeping in weird spots just to be by your side. It could be between your legs when you are sitting on the couch or even on your chest as you lay in bed. Independent breeds like the Rottweiler, Greyhound, or Great Pyrenees are considered less clingy.
5. Your Dog Could be Stressed
If your dog is stressed or anxious, he’ll show it through his gestures and behavior. He’ll get overly clingy, tuck his ears and tail, lick his lips, and even pant and yawn a lot. When stressed, your dog will also not make proper eye contact.
It could be the noise of fireworks, loud sirens of ambulances, chaos at home, change in his room, etc. If any of these or other factors stress him out, he’ll leave his original sleeping place and look for an alternative where he can be secure and comfortable.
6. He may not be Feeling Well
It could even be that your dog isn’t feeling well, especially if he has begun choosing weird spots to lie down all of a sudden. When you find your dog preferring hardwood floors to their comfortable beds, chances are that they have injured themselves or are in pain. They no longer find their beds comfortable and try to ease themselves by sleeping in odd spots.
If you have a senior at home or breeds more prone to hip dysplasia, you may find them changing their sleeping places to derive comfort.
When your dog has hip dysplasia, arthritis, or joint problems, he will also walk slowly and show unwillingness to jump or run. He may be sensitive when you touch certain parts of his body, possibly the areas that pain the most. So, if your dog is changing his sleeping location and shows these symptoms, it’ll be easier for you to identify the problem.
Understanding Dogs’ Sleeping Habits
Dogs mostly sleep for 10-12 hours a day. Puppies and seniors have a less consistent sleeping pattern than mid-aged dogs. No wonder they require sleep for a longer duration. It has also been highlighted that adult canines sleep for a longer duration at night in comparison to puppies. If their sleeping pattern hours are between 8 am and 8 pm, they will sleep for 60%-80% of it.
In most cases, they will prefer their crate if they feel comfortable in it. But, dogs high on separation anxiety might be more interested in sleeping with their owners than in their beds. Further, their bedding might not, at times, give them comfort. Thus they would suddenly prefer to sleep in odd places like underneath beds, inside closets, or even near the owner’s feet.
When you see your dog changing its sleeping location, do not scream at him. Instead, you have to understand what has triggered the behavior. This will make you help your dog better.
How to Determine the Underlying Cause of Your Dog’s Sleeping Behavior?
If your dog is changing his sleeping position once in a while, that shouldn’t be a cause for concern then. However, if your dog is changing his sleeping position regularly, then you would have to look into the issue to ensure that all is well.
1. Rule out any Physical Problem
If you find your dog suddenly refusing its cozy bed, and mostly lying on the hardwood floor, then all may not be well. If he does this mostly during hot weather, that’s fine then. Perhaps he finds the floor cooler than his bed. But, if he does it quite often, you would need to find out the root cause, irrespective of the weather.
He may be in pain or has perhaps injured himself. It could even be muscle pain or arthritis as well. Do you notice any change in his gaits as well? Does your dog show an overall sign of discomfort? Then, you should address the issue at the earliest and take him to the vet immediately. The sooner it is intervened, the quicker the dog will recover from the underlying condition he is suffering.
2. Check to See if there is any Underlying Behavioral Problem
If your dog is physically fine, you need to see if there is any behavioral problem. You should identify the triggers and work towards eliminating them. For example, if your dog gets scared by loud noises, try to shift his bed to a quieter place. If he is over-clingy and never wishes to leave your side, then he perhaps needs training.
You will have to stimulate your dog mentally and physically. It is even important to accustom them to living in the crate at least for some time of the day since their puppy days. If it is getting difficult to handle your dog’s changing behavior, you may speak to the vet or an animal behaviorist.
If you find your dog rejecting his crate and opting for swift spots like a rug or blanket to sleep, that means you should consider altering his bedding.
6 Interesting Tips for Managing Changes in Dog’s Sleeping Location
The first thing you would need to do is to identify the reason that has led your dog to change the sleeping location. Once that is done, you must find a way to help your dog in this regard. Here are some tips for your convenience.
1. Give Your Dog a Comfortable Place to Sleep
If you find your dog hopping onto your bed quite often and snuggling under your cozy blanket, then this could mean two things. Your dog wants to sleep close to you. And it may even indicate that he likes the warmth of your blanket. You could also find him sleeping on the rug near the door. Do not be surprised if you find him sleeping peacefully under the table the next morning. Perhaps he liked the quietness, and dark ambiance, which also gave him a good night’s sleep.
You could make similar arrangements to his bed as well. If your dog sleeps in the crate, add a soft blanket to his bedding. You could even shift the crate to a quieter place if it’s in the busier part of the house. Also, ensure that you choose cotton bedding for your dog. It has a lesser chance of triggering allergic reactions.
2. Take Special Care of Your Dog During the Temperature Changes
When it is cold outside, adding extra layers of duvets or blankets to your dog’s bedding will help him remain warm. If your dog sleeps in his crate, then covering the top of the crate using old bedding will help the heat to remain trapped within.
During summers, take away the extra blankets from his bedding. Instead, add a cooling mat to his crate to help him remain cool. Cooling mats also help dogs with conditions like hip dysplasia or arthritis.
3. Make Your Dog Sleep on Command
It is essential to train your dog on basic commands like ‘Stay,’ ‘Stop,’ Come,’ etc., right from its puppy days. Once that is done, you could implement them for different purposes. Like, during bedtime, you could show his bed or crate and say, ‘Go There.’ Each time he follows your command, reward him positively.
4. Restrict Your Dog’s Access to Other Parts of the House (Especially at Night)
If your dog has a habit of experimenting with new places to sleep at night, then the onus lies on you to limit his access to other rooms of the home, mostly before bedtime. You should train him in a way that he associates sleeping with his bed only and nowhere else. When you provide him with a favorable sleeping place, your dog will not think of going anywhere else.
5. Follow a Regular Routine
A routine is essential to discipline your dog with age and time. When you have designated times for walks, sleep, play, and meals, your dog will eventually get used to it. He will even start associating different objects for various activities. Like, sleep means his bed, food means his bowl, and walk stands for the lead.
6. Consult a Vet for Health and Stress-Related Issues
When your dog is changing locations to soothe himself because of physical discomfort, it is necessary to talk to the vet immediately. The same goes for stress-related issues, especially if it has aggravated. He might require behavior modification techniques to manage his stress.
One of the main reasons why your dog could do the same is out of a feeling of security and safety. The enclosed space under the bed makes him feel comfortable.
He is even able to escape from all the noises that reach his ears when he sleeps on the bed. Your dog might be anxious and stressed due to all the chaos around him. To find some peace, he goes right under the bed to sleep.
He could find his bed uncomfortable. Perhaps it is hard, cold, noisy, or itchy. Also, your dog could be among the ones who prefer a hard surface to sleep than soft, fluffy ones. He may also be suffering from any underlying health condition.
A dog’s behavior is sometimes a little difficult to decipher. Don’t be surprised if your dog disowns his plush, fluffy bed and chooses the hard floor or the dirty rug to sleep on. Perhaps that’s his comfort zone. Doing the same once in a while is okay. Like, if he enjoys his siesta on the hardwood floor of your living room, that’s fine at times. But if he is changing his sleeping location repetitively, you need to intervene and know the matter.
Dr. Lillian is a D.V.M. passionate about promoting awareness of dogs. She shares her expertise through her blogs on canineweekly.com and provides animal care services, including internal medicine, dermatology, and emergency care. Dr. Lillian is committed to contributing to animal welfare.