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Dog Jumps On Bed In Middle Of The Night [Why & What to Do]

There you are, trying to sleep, and suddenly you have your dog on top of your bed. Seems random, doesn’t it? And it’s alarming. So why do they feel the need to jump up in the middle of the night and what can be done about it? Besides, this is not something you likely want to continue. Here are the answers to all of these questions and more.

So, why does my dog jump on the bed in the middle of the night? Dogs typically jump on the bed in the middle of the night because they love the comfiness of a bed. They want to be next to their owners for affection and comfort. In some cases, it could be a sign of dominance assertion.

It’s actually a nice, even a good thing when you think about it.

But it is frightening

And it’s certainly not a time for cuddles.

Well, it might be, but you just don’t want to be startled awake each night, do you?

So let’s continue to explore why dogs do this. That way we can work out the underlying cause to help correct it.

And we’ll get onto what you should do about it, right after.

Why Does A Dog Jump On The Bed In The Middle Of The Night?

Most of the time, your dog will jump on the bed to be next to you. Other times, he’ll want to keep your spot warm. Or perhaps he’s just used to sleeping with you. Some dogs, though, want to assert dominance.

Your Dog Wants To Be Next To You

Like us, dogs are social animals, and they enjoy warm cuddles with their pack mates – which in this case, means you!

Your bed is extra warm and cozy, with the additional benefit of smelling like you, which brings your dog added comfort.

Your Dog Wants to Keep Your Spot Warm

Some dogs will leap onto the spot their owners have vacated in the middle of the night for a toilet break to keep it warm.

If you notice when you leave your bed in the middle of the night that your dog jumps into the spot you’ve left but gives it back when you return to bed, he’s been keeping it warm for you!

Dogs who keep spots warm for their owners are showing submission and respect.

Your dog recognizes you as the leader of his pack, and he is doing his best to help you stay cozy.

Your Dog Is Used To Sleeping With You

Many people start allowing their puppies to sleep with them to comfort and bond with them. However, co-sleeping with your dog can cause problems – some dogs take up more room than others.

Some owners discover that sharing a bed with their adult dog isn’t as comfy as they thought, so they’ll try and train their dog to sleep elsewhere.

Unfortunately, if your dog has been used to sleeping with you, he might jump on your bed in the middle of the night when he knows you’re asleep!

Your Dog Wants to Assert Dominance

Some dogs will jump on the bed to assert their dominance over you.

If your dog does this, he is saying that he’s the one in charge – he may steal your spot in the bed and not want to give it back.

If your dog doesn’t listen to your commands, he’s most likely asserting dominance. It’s as if he’s saying, “I don’t want to move, and why should I? I’m in charge here!”

Dominant behavior is in our dogs’ DNA – it comes from being part of a pack before dogs were domesticated. In a pack of dogs, the alpha gets:

  • The best food. Other dogs will eat after the alpha has eaten his fill.
  • The best mates. The alpha has the pick of the females to mate with.
  • The best sleeping place. If there’s a particularly comfy spot available, it will always go to the alpha.

If your dog thinks he’s the leader in your house, you will have to use effective training, perhaps with assistance (see below).

Is It Normal For Dogs To Jump On The Bed In The Middle Of The Night?

Given the high percentage of people who allow their dogs to sleep with them, it’s fairly normal for these dogs to jump on the bed at all times of the night. Many people allow their dogs to sleep on their beds at other times of the day, which encourages this habit. Any dog who thinks he’s the alpha will also find it normal to jump on the comfiest spot at any time, which usually means the bed!

Percentage Of People Who Sleep With Their Dogs

The American Kennel Club conducted a study on co-sleeping with dogs, and they found the following:

  • 45 percent of dog owners let their dog sleep on their bed.
  • 20 percent have their dog sleep in a crate.
  • 17 percent have their dog sleep on a dog bed.

Why is the percentage of co-sleepers so high?

Well, most people find it comforting to sleep with their dogs.

If these dogs have gotten out of bed for whatever reason, it’s only natural that they jump back on the bed in the middle of the night.

Other Ways Dogs Are Encouraged To Sleep On Beds (and Jump on Them)

Most dogs who jump onto their owners’ beds at night have been allowed access to the bed at other times of day for any of the following reasons:

  • Inconsistent boundaries. If your dog is on your bed and you’re late for work, you might ignore it and figure it’s easier to literally let sleeping dogs lie.
  • Different behaviors among family members. This is the classic “Mom’s not here, so you can sleep on the bed tonight”, which confuses your dog.
  • Breaking one’s own rules. When you decide to have a little snuggle on the bed with your dog as an exception, he will see this as permission to sleep there at any moment.

Is It Acceptable To Sleep With My Dog?

Many dogs do just fine with co-sleeping and can be helped to not jump on the bed at all hours (see below).

However, there are some instances where co-sleeping will create problems, including jumping on the bed:

  • Puppies who are yet to be housebroken. If your puppy hasn’t been housebroken yet, it’s better for him to not be allowed on the bed. Puppies need strict routines to help them feel secure, and if you sleep with your dog from puppyhood, he can find jumping on the bed to be completely normal behavior for years to come! In addition, your puppy will most likely ignore his bladder signals because he won’t want to leave your side. He’ll most likely have an accident in the bed. If you want to sleep with your dog, crate train your puppy or teach him to sleep on the floor in his own bed until he is completely housebroken.
  • Dogs who struggle with emotional problems. If your dog has a tendency to struggle with dominance, resource guarding, aggression, or separation anxiety, sleeping with him can do more harm than good. Some loving dogs can’t handle the stimulation and excitement of sleeping with their beloved people. An anxious dog can feel more secure in a comfortable crate because he’ll know where he is in the hierarchy.
  • Dogs who have health problems or are prone to injuring themselves. If your dog has back problems, for instance, co-sleeping may endanger his health. Your dog will be better off on a memory foam dog bed (or an orthopedic dog bed) to ease his pain and help keep him safe.
  • Dogs who shed heavily or spend lots of time outside. If you still want to sleep with your dog after he’s been playing outside, make sure you brush and clean him first. You don’t want an outbreak of pests or mud trails in your bed.

Note: Even if you let your dog sleep with you, all dogs need a crate or a bed that is just for them and them alone. Each dog needs a ‘safe spot’ to help him feel secure and confident – a place where no one will bother him (such as boisterous children or well-meaning guests).

What To Do About Your Dog Jumping On The Bed In The Middle Of The Night

The steps to remedy your dog jumping on your bed depend on your circumstances. If your dog is asserting dominance, you’ll need a firm hand to stop his habit of jumping on your bed. If you are fine with your dog being on your bed but don’t want him acting restless and jumping around, you’ll take different steps than if you don’t ever want your dog on your bed.

If Your Dog Is Asserting Dominance

If you suspect your dog is asserting dominance, you will need to nip this behavior in the bud.

You must assert that you are the ‘alpha dog’ in your house, otherwise, you will have no end of problems, such as:

  • Guarding resources (food, toys, etc., not wanting to give them back – which can lead to growling or other aggressive behavior).
  • Pulling on the lead and not following commands when out for walks.
  • Not returning to you when you call him (this can be very dangerous for your dog).
  • Sitting wherever he likes and refusing to move.

Apart from jumping on your bed, look for these other signs of showing dominance:

  • Not giving your spot back when you come back to bed.
  • Trying to take the lead when out on walks.
  • Strutting pridefully rather than walking.
  • Ignoring commands that you know your dog is familiar with.
  • Nudging your hand at the table to give him food.

You may want to take your dog to a trainer to get some expert help. The trainer will help you get your power back.

In the meantime, you can:

  • Not give in if he requests food from the dinner table.
  • Use a short leash on walks, and make sure he walks either next to you or behind you.
  • Always enter and leave your house before your dog does (never let him walk in front of you).
  • Train him to wait for your command before eating (e.g., get him to sit before you serve his food, then wait, then when you give the word, he can go to his bowl).

If Your Dog Is Allowed On The Bed

If you are fine with having your dog on your bed, but you just don’t want him to make a nuisance of himself by waking you up, here are some steps you can take:

  • Make the room as free from stimuli as possible. Close the curtains to reduce light from outside. Try playing soft music or white noise so that outdoor noises don’t disturb your dog.
  • Make sure others are quiet. Inform other people in the house of your attempts to calm your dog at night so that they don’t make loud noises while you’re asleep.
  • Give your dog another resting place near your bed*. This can be a blanket, a crate, or a bed. Some dogs can want a break during the night – whether it’s because they’re too hot or they want some time alone. Having an option nearby can reduce restlessness in your dog – he’ll know where to go if he’s too warm.
  • Give your dog clear boundaries. For furniture, make it clear to your dog what he can and cannot do. For example, you can train your dog to wait for an invitation to get up on the sofa or bed. You can also teach him the “off” command, and get him to understand that “off” means staying off until he is invited back up again.

Note: Clear boundaries are essential for all dogs to help them feel secure and confident. Dogs look to us to know what to do and when, so even if your dog can go where he pleases in your home, make sure he knows what behavior is acceptable and what isn’t. He will be all the happier for it!

*Having an extra resting place for your dog by your side is also beneficial if your dog tends to wake you up with growling.

In addition, your nighttime movements might confuse your dog – if he wakes and appears restless or grumpy, use a treat to gently encourage him to get off the bed and get into his other resting area for the remainder of the night.

If Your Dog Is Not Allowed On Your Bed

If your dog is not allowed on the bed, establish firm boundaries for all the furniture in your house. It’s worth knowing that dogs often confuse couches and beds, so if you don’t want him on your bed, you’ll probably have to keep him off the couch, too.

If you want him on certain chairs or the sofa, you can get a comfy blanket for your dog.

Teach your dog he can only sit on furniture covered by his blanket.

If your dog is still confused (the blanket technique doesn’t work with all dogs), you’ll have to prevent him from using all furniture. In that case, put his blanket on his dog bed.

Other things you can do include:

  • Confining your dog to another room or to a crate. Make sure, though, that he associates that room or crate with positive experiences (using treats or special toys).
  • Giving him an ultra-comfy dog bed. There are many types of dog beds available, so find one that your dog loves and that is only for his use.
  • Trying special ‘night toys.’ Give him particular toys only at nighttime that offer comfort (make sure they’re dog-friendly).
  • Teaching your dog where to sleep at night. If you are removing a behavior from your dog’s routine, such as jumping on your bed, you need to replace it with something else that’s equally rewarding. This is why it’s essential to provide a comfy bed for him that he associates with positive experiences.
  • Putting a piece of clothing that smells like you in his bed. Having your comforting scent is very helpful for dogs who need lots of companionship or who suffer from anxiety.
  • Giving him a delicious treat. Try giving your dog a delicious treat that he only gets at bedtime (and in his bed).

Other Helpful Tips

Regardless of whether your dog is allowed on your bed or not, here are some additional helpful tips:

  • Make sure everyone follows the rules for your dog. The more consistent you are, the more secure your dog will feel and the better he’ll behave.
  • If your dog throws a tantrum, don’t give in. Dogs are intelligent animals, and some may show their displeasure at the new rules. No matter what, don’t give in. If your dog gets frantic or hurts himself, use training during the day to distract and help diffuse the situation.
  • Give your dog lots of exercise before bedtime. A tired dog is usually a happy dog who will be more likely to settle down for the night.
  • Try replacing time spent on your bed with something equally fun. You can work in a different routine for your dog to have something to look forward to before bedtime, such as calm cuddles on the floor by his bed.

Finally

If your dog keeps jumping on the bed in the middle of the night, there is a reason for it.

This is not something that is happening randomly.

It’s a learned behaviour and one that you can either encourage, or discourage.

Thankfully, with the approaches set out above, you should find that these awakenings have become a thing of the past.

And you get that much-needed shut-eye once again.

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