Why Won't Your Dog Sleep in Their Bed? 8 Reasons & Solutions
It's a common frustration for dog owners: Why won't my dog sleep in their bed?
It’s so comfy, fluffy, and warm, what could possibly be wrong with it?
You’re in the right place. In this blog post, we're going to explore the reasons why your dog won’t sleep in their bed and solutions to solve this canine conundrum.
Let’s get into it!
Why Won't My Dog Sleep in Their Bed?
Without further ado, let’s talk about why your pooch may have developed a phobia of their bed.
1. It's not comfy enough
First thing first, your dog may avoid their bed because it's simply not comfortable enough.
Dogs can be picky when it comes to their sleep surfaces.
Finding the perfect dog bed for your pup involves a few things:
Bottom line, your dog may not like how the bed feels, so they avoid resting on it.
Experiment with different types of dog beds if you have the budget. Or you can see where your dog is preferring to sleep. If they are sleeping on the floor as opposed to their bed, they might prefer a harder surface to sleep on. So a sleeping mat could be a could option. Alternatively, dogs that sleep on the sofa or other soft surfaces may need extra cushioning on their bed. Pay attention to your dog's body language and behaviour when trying out different options to see which one they prefer.
2. Your dog isn’t familiar with the bed
Dogs are creatures of habit. Nothing shows that tendency more than changing a dog’s bedding.
Whether that’s moving the location of the bed or replacing the bed altogether, you’ll see your dog struggle to adjust for some time.
Likewise, if your dog is used to sleeping in your bed or on the living room couch, transitioning to a new bed may be challenging for them.
Make your dog's bed more familiar and inviting by placing some of their favourite toys or blankets on it. You can also try putting one of your old T-shirts on the bed so that it carries your scent. This will make your pup feel more comfortable. Overall, be patient. Your dog will adjust to the new bed eventually with time and positive reinforcement.
Related: Why My Dog Won't Sleep At Night?
3. It's in the wrong location
The location of your dog’s bed is way more important than you might think!
If it's placed in an area that's too noisy, too cold, too warm, or too exposed, your dog may avoid it.
Your dog’s bed should be in a peaceful and sheltered area of your home with as little foot traffic as possible.
Choose a quiet and cosy corner of your home for your dog's bed. Ensure it’s away from direct sunlight, radiators, or drafty areas. Dogs generally feel more secure when their bed is tucked away in a corner or against a wall.
Related: How To Help Your Dog Sleep Through The Night.
4. Your dog is suffering from fear or anxiety
If your dog has had a negative experience associated with their bed or the area around it, they may avoid it altogether.
For example, if your dog’s bed is in a noisy place and they constantly feel under threat, they will avoid it.
Likewise, they might avoid sleeping in a bed that is near other pets or children which causes them stress.
Assess whether there are any triggers causing fear or anxiety for your dog. It could be a loud noise, a past incident, or even the presence of another pet or household member. You can move their bed to a more peaceful space. Or you can work on desensitisation training so that the trigger is less acute for your dog.
5. Your dog has health issues
Your dog may have an underlying health issue that impacts their sleep.
For example, if your dog is suffering from arthritis, joint pain, or injury, certain sleeping positions can be painful.
So your dog might be avoiding their bed and favouring more comfy alternatives.
If you suspect that your dog is avoiding their bed due to pain or discomfort, consult your vet. They can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend treatments or modifications to make your dog more comfortable. In the case of injury, the adjustments are temporary. But if your pup has a chronic condition like arthritis, you may need to invest in new bedding or extra cushions for their existing bed.
Related: Dog Sleeping Positions & What They Mean.
6. Your dog prefers your company
Dogs are social animals. And let’s be honest, they can be a little needy!
Your dog might simply prefer sleeping close to you because they enjoy your company.
Dogs are pack animals, and being near their humans can provide a sense of security and comfort.
So if your dog’s bed or sleeping area is far away from you, they may move to be closer to you, even if there is no bed there.
My dogs used to sleep outside of my bedroom on the floor despite having super comfy beds incredibly close by.
You can encourage your dog to sleep in their bed by offering rewards and positive reinforcement when they use it throughout the day. Gradually, they may become more comfortable sleeping independently. But also, if it’s not bothering you or triggering separation anxiety, you could always move your dog’s bed to be closer to your room. Not necessarily in the room but close enough to feel you near.
Related: Should Dogs Sleep Inside or Outside?
7. They are too used to your bed
Humans have been sleeping with their dogs for millennia. (1)
And if you’re engaging in this ancient practice, guess what? Your dog is unlikely to enjoy any other bed than your own.
Who could blame them? Your bed is soft, warm, and close to you. The perfect trifecta.
So if you’ve had your dog sleeping in or on your bed, and you now want to transition them to their own dog bed, you have quite the task on your hands. Here’s the solution.
Solution: Basic obedience training can help teach your dog the concept of "bedtime." Use treats and positive reinforcement to encourage your dog to go to bed at night. You can also prevent your pup from entering your bedroom at all and redirect them to their own bed. Consistency is key, so be patient and persistent.
8. It’s too hot or cold
Dogs have seasonal preferences when it comes to their bedding – just like humans.
They may prefer a cooler spot during the summer months and a warmer one during the winter.
Why? Well, dogs rely on their environment more to regulate their temperature.
“It is important to remember that dogs cannot control their body temperature by sweating as humans do since they only have a relatively small number of sweat glands located in their footpads. Their primary way of regulating body temperature is by panting.” – VCA Hospitals (2)
So you might need several bedding options to swap throughout the year.
Make sure your dog's bed is set up for the current season. In the summer, place the bed in a well-ventilated area and choose a bed with fresher materials. Cooling mats under the bed can be helpful too. In the winter, make sure your dog has a cosy blanket or a heated dog bed to keep them warm.
My Final Thoughts
We hope this article helped you understand why your dog doesn’t want to sleep in his own bed. To summarise, the best thing to do is identify your pup’s specific gripe with their bed and fix it at the root. Whether that’s investing in a different bed for the season or slowly training them to sleep on their own.
It’ll take time and plenty of positive reinforcement but most dogs will learn to sleep on their own beds eventually.
And if they don’t, try a different bed!
Dogs use smell as a primary sense to decide where to sleep. They want to sleep close to their pack so they enjoy sleeping near their owners. They also factor in the comfort level of a sleeping surface. For example, the softness, location, temperature, and support of a sleep surface are all taken into account. If their dog bed isn’t up to scratch, they might choose to sleep on another piece of furniture or the floor instead.
- Coren, S. September 23, 2014. “Is That a Dog in Your Bed?”. Psychology Today. Retrieved September 19, 2023. https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/canine-corner/201409/is-dog-in-your-bed
- Williams, K., Ward, E. “Heat Stroke in Dogs”. VCA Hospitals. Retrieved September 19, 2023. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/heat-stroke-in-dogs