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Ask A Vet: Why Does My Dog Like To Sleep Under The Covers?

Does your dog love to bury himself under your covers to sleep? Many dogs do. It is fun to think about why they might do this seemingly very human thing. If we consider the way a dog sees life, it is easy to imagine why he tucks himself in at night.

Animals depend on the concept of resources. Resources are things like food, water, and shelter. Your bed represents a shelter or den to your dog. Since the bed is a place where he regularly goes, it is marked with his scent and it is part of his routine. He instinctively crawls into his den as a happy and safe zone. Under the covers may feel like the inner sanctum of his den to him- the safest of the safe.

pug-in-a-blanket

When your dog is tucked away under the sheets, she feels surrounded, even swaddled and feeling firm pressure has been suggested to improve brain chemistry for anxious dogs.1 Certain breeds of dogs will even seem to prefer to burrow for entertainment. Think of the terrier type dog and the Dachshund whose long body was originally an advantage for climbing in tight burrows. The pressure of the sheets snug around your dog probably makes her brain release happy chemicals that give her a sense of security and well-being and maybe even fun.

Your presence also gives your dog that feeling of support which he craves as an animal evolved to function in a pack or family unit. He knows that you feel safe enough to retreat there for sleep and you are a valued friend, family member, and mentor. You have marked the area as a safe zone and you spend a good portion of your time there. As members of a pack, you share responsibility for raising an alarm and protecting each other. Being near you when you sleep is very natural to your dog.

Pack animals, like dogs, know that their choice of sleeping quarters can be a matter of life or death. Their den is one of their most values resources. The snugness of the sheets can promote feelings of safety and refuge as well. Most of all, our dogs want to be under the sheets because that is where WE are and the safest place is always with your family.

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  1. The effect of a pressure wrap (ThunderShirt®) on heart rate and behavior in canines diagnosed with anxiety disorder, King, Camille et al. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research , Volume 9 , Issue 5 , 215 – 221

 

 

 

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Written by Dr. Kathryn Primm
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