We’ve seen some unusual sleeping dog behavior from time to time from our Labrador Retrievers, and if you have a dog that has some clingy behavior or odd sleep habits, you’re not alone.
Labradors generally love to cuddle and snuggle with their people, other pets in the family, and even with stuffed animals or dog toys.
Your dog can sometimes decide to sleep or lie in some unusual positions and locations, often leaving you to wonder if something’s wrong, or what’s actually behind their unexpected or clingy dog sleep behavior.
If you’re wondering, “Why does my dog lie on top of me?” there may be several reasons to explain this behavior: attachment to you and your scent, fear/anxiety, cold temperatures, and comfort are four main causes of why your dog may like to sleep or lie on top of you.
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Let’s go over more about the reasons behind each one.
Attachment to You & Your Scent
Most breeds of dogs become bonded to their owners within a short time after joining the family and develop strong attachments to both their people and their environment. Labs are a very people-centric dog breed.
Labrador Retrievers have remained the most popular dogs for the last 30 years in part due to many wonderful personality traits, including their friendliness to humans and strong bond to their families and owners.
Your dog might sleep on you or lie on top of you to show their level of attachment and connection to you.
This sleeping position demonstrates their bond to you as their owner, and to their desire to remain close to you to keep an eye on your location at all times.
Labradors are very people-oriented, and usually will follow their humans all around the house, throughout the day as their people move from room to room.
They also know that you provide the food, play, and tasty treats, so they learn quickly to keep an eye on you for all the exciting things that might happen at a moment’s notice.
It’s common for Labs to want to be in the same room as their people at all times, and when they can’t get to you through a closed door, to sit outside the door waiting for you to open it. We’ve had Labradors learn how to open levered door handles with their giant paws when they didn’t appreciate the door being closed to them.
Sometimes Labs will sleep on top of their owner to show the bond they have with you and their desire to be near you (and your scent) at all times. You might observe your dog lay their head on you, or lay their furry paws across your feet.
Your dog will lie on top of you to be close to you, feel if you move or leave the room, and show their commitment to being a member of your pack.
If you get up out of bed, they may move to the exact spot where you were lying to soak up as much of your scent as they can!
Another reason why your dog may lie on top of you or sleep on you is because they are fearful of something in their environment and are looking to you for protection or reassurance.
While Labradors can be very protective of their families and be excellent watchdogs, they can also become concerned and fearful about things in their surroundings or environment.
Scary noises or events such as fireworks, thunderstorms, sirens, other aggressive animals, or unfriendly people can trigger your dog to feel fear or anxiety.
Your dog might turn to you when they become fearful and go to their safe place, which in their mind may be to position themselves as close to you as possible, including lying on top of you.
If you have a rescue Labrador, be aware that you might learn over time what previous negative experiences they’ve had or been exposed to, and how those events might affect them.
One of our Labrador rescues behaves this way when he’s afraid. Even though he’s 90 lbs, if he finds something scary or anxiety-provoking in his surroundings, he goes running to us and sits on top of us.
It can be a little bit uncomfortable, but we have grown to understand how to recognize his fear or discomfort and work it out with him.
Some dogs are reactive when faced with fear or anxiety; they may bite, bark, or lash out.
But other dogs (depending on their temperament) will retreat to a safe place such as a dog crate, or their owner’s lap when faced with something fearful.
You might find your dog jumping up to lie on top of you or falling asleep on top of you during an event they find scary, or when something upsetting occurs that causes them to look to you for reassurance.
Your dog might also be feeling separation anxiety, especially if you have a regular routine and they can detect signs that you might be leaving soon.
Your dog might lie on top of you to try to prevent you from leaving your home or heading to work or school because they have separation anxiety and don’t want you to go!
A third answer to the question, “Why does my dog lie on top of me?” is that they may be feeling effects of a temperature drop in their environment, and are looking for your help in staying warm.
While Labrador Retrievers have a thick double coat that gives them some protection from both cold water and cold air temperatures, they can get cold, especially if they are outdoors.
Your dog might lie on top of you to get warm or sleep on top of you to stay warm throughout the night, especially if you’re camping or sleeping outside.
You might notice a cold dog attempt to lay their head under the covers or burrow under your pillows to try to get warmer while remaining close to you, their favorite person!
Though Labs love the outdoors, they can get cold, and you’ll want to protect them from being exposed to colder temperatures for extended periods of time.
We recommend you don’t leave your Labrador, or any dog, to live outside as an outside-only dog primarily, as it’s better for them to be inside and in a temperature-controlled environment, especially with their people.
Comfort for You
One other reason that your dog might lay their head on you, or sleep on top of you, is to give comfort to you. If you’re having a bad day, feeling sad, depressed, or stressed, you may notice your dog acting differently around you.
Dogs can pick up on their owner’s feelings and emotions to some degree, including verbal cues and facial expressions. If you’re upset or agitated, your dog may be trying to provide comfort to you, as you would be to them when they’re faced with fear or anxiety.
Labrador Retrievers are highly intelligent and known for being kind and playful dogs who are very bonded to their human family members.
If you have children, and they are upset or feeling a strong emotion, don’t be surprised if your Lab stays near to your child and tries to lie on or near them, or in their room to sleep. Just keep an eye on them to make sure your dog doesn’t become overly agitated by seeing their smaller human family members upset.
Summary – Why Does My Dog Lie on Top of Me & Sleep on Me?
There can be many reasons why your dog may lie on top of you or sleep on you, including attachment to you and your scent, fear or anxiety, cold temperatures, or trying to comfort you.
Most dogs, especially Labradors, are especially bonded to their pack and their people and love to be in the same room as their humans at all times.
Separation from their humans and time away from you is usually your dog’s least favorite thing, so appreciate your dog’s bond to you and recognize that this behavior is generally a way of showing how important you are, and how much you mean to them.