Why Does My Dog Check On Me When I’m Sleeping?

By John Martin - May 3, 2021

Dog waking up woman in bed

If you are a pet owner and have noticed your dog sauntering into your bedroom at night to check on you while you are sleeping, you are not alone. In fact, you will be surprised to know how common this is!

But why do these incredible creatures do this? The following are some possible reasons:

They Heard a Noise

If your pooch has suddenly wandered into your room at night, it might be because they heard something outside. It doesn’t have to be anything alarming. Perhaps, just a squirrel in the backyard or a rodent scrounging for food in the soil.

But as is common knowledge, dogs have a famously good sense of hearing. When everyone has gone to sleep at night and it is quiet enough for them to hear a pin drop, even a leaf falling outside may ignite their curiosity.

You may have noticed this happening during the day. Someone comes to the door, or another dog passes by your house and your canine friend makes it a point to come to you and let you know about this perceived intrusion. The same pattern repeats at night. They hear something outside, they feel the need to keep you in the loop!

Also Read: Why Does My Dog Walk In Circles Around Me?

They Want to Make Sure You’re Okay

Dogs have a natural protective instinct. No matter what hour of the day, they want to make sure members of their pack are okay. Now, since you are a dog parent and your dog loves you, that automatically makes you a part of their pack.

So when they wake up in the middle of the night, their protective instinct kicks in and they feel the need to check in on their surroundings and make sure there are no predators lurking.

Of course, some breeds have a sharper and stronger protective instinct than others. So if your German Shepherd wanders into your room at night and even nudges you softly to see if you are doing alright, that is probably just its protective instincts kicking in.

Most dogs will not sleep throughout the night at a stretch. They have cycles of semi-wakefulness where they may be groggy. Other times they may wake up in the middle of the night, take a lap of the house to check if everything is in order, then settle back into their sleep. This is completely normal behavior for most dogs.

They Might Be Hungry

If you notice that your dog has been checking on you during your sleep more often than usual, make note of when their last meal was. Perhaps, they have woken up because they are hungry or thirsty. Since you are their source of food (they watch you pour meals into their doggy bowl), it is natural that they will turn to you if they are feeling hungry at night.

This should not always be the case if you have a regular eating schedule. But at times your dog may have left their meal unfinished during the day for various reasons and they may want to go back to the meal at night. Ensure their water bowl is full at all times so they can quench their thirst whenever they wish to.

Their Sleep Cycle Is Off

If your pooch is only a puppy and you are still adjusting to each other, it is quite possible that both your sleep cycles are not in sync. All dogs take short naps throughout the day, but it is also important to keep them active when the sun is out so that they also go to sleep when everybody else in the house is asleep.

Caring for a puppy is not unlike taking care of a newborn baby. In the initial phase, there could be a fair few sleepless nights where you need to go in and pacify the pooch.

If your sleep cycle is not in sync, it simply means your dog has had more than enough rest during the day and is active at night. That activity could translate into restlessness, boredom and a desire to waddle into your room and see if you are up to a game of catch!

Their Bed May Be Uncomfortable

Perhaps your dog is restless because their bed is uncomfortable. Maybe it is too hot for them in the bed you have made up, or perhaps the covers on the bed are prickly. It could also be that their bed is near a window from where they can hear traffic sounds.

Just as if you were sleeping uncomfortably, you may toss and turn until you find a comfortable spot. Similarly, your dog will also have trouble settling into quality sleep if their bed is uncomfortable.

They Miss You/Have Separation Anxiety

Since your dog is so attached to you, they are likely checking on you in your sleep because they love you and want to ensure your well-being.

However, while a healthy degree of attachment is common, it can also turn into dependent behavior that is detrimental to your canine friend.

If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, they may not like being apart from you for too long, even if you are only in the next room. They have become used to having you around and find comfort in your presence.

Some degree of separation anxiety is common with dogs, especially puppies. But if it becomes a hindrance to your everyday functionality, it is a problem that must be addressed.

Also Read: Why Does My Dog Bite My Ankles When I Walk?

How Can This Be Fixed?

If you are wondering how to make these nocturnal inspections stop or at least reduce the frequency, there are a few things you can try:

Set a Proper Sleep Schedule

One of the first things you must ensure is that your dog has a proper sleep schedule. Just as you would sleep train a baby, you also need to sleep train your dog when they are a puppy.

Typically, dogs have a lot of energy that needs to be expended in the right places, especially when you are dealing with a puppy. So keep your pooch engaged during the day so that they do not sleep through it and keep you up at night. The objective of sleep training is to teach your dog that they must sleep while you are asleep.

Give Them a Comfortable Spot to Sleep

If you notice your dog is being restless and are not able to settle into their bed, try a few variations. Move the bed to a quieter part of the house, keep some ventilation around or change the covers of the bed if you need to. Notice how your dog responds to these changes and see what makes them feel the most comfortable.

Make Sure They Are Fed

Ensure your dog does not go to bed on an empty stomach if you do not want them wandering into your room at night, looking for food. If your dog left their bowl untouched during their last feed, fill the bowl (at least partially) with fresh food so that they can have it if they feel hungry at night.

If you have a proper feeding schedule in place, this should not be a problem. You also do not want to encourage them to eat in the middle of the night so this solution is only for exceptional circumstances.

Teach Them to Be Alone

It is important to teach your dog not to be dependent on you every waking moment. Your dog should be able to stay apart, not only for your own convenience but also for their well-being.

A dog with separation anxiety will always be stressed when not in the presence of its owner and it is not always possible for you to be around. Seek professional help if you think your dog’s separation anxiety is severe.

Final Thoughts

One of the primary reasons your dog may be doing this is simply out of love and protectiveness. If this nightly checking in does not disturb your sleep or pull you out of bed, there is no need to fret about your dog’s behavior.

As long as you as well as your dog are well rested, healthy and happy, a few interactions with your pooch at night are no big deal.