why do dogs sleep with their bum facing you

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On more than one occasion, you may have woken up to find your dog’s rear end nearly in your face.

This behavior might leave you wondering ‘Why do dogs sleep with their bum facing you?’. While it may seem unpleasant to some, this is actually a natural occurrence for dogs.

In this post, we will explore the possible reasons why your furry friend prefers this sleeping position.

Watch out for our practical tips you can use to encourage alternative sleeping positions for your canine companion.

10 Reasons Why Dogs Sleep with Their Bums Facing You

1. It’s a sign of trust

Dogs show trust in their owners in lots of ways, and sticking their bottoms while sleeping is one of them.

Exposing the bum area puts the dog in a vulnerable position, and so when your furry friend does this to you, it shows how much they trust you.

Other vulnerable postures include lying on the side and exposing the stomach and chest areas.

The dog is confident that you will protect them if anything happens.

2. Bonding and affection

Dogs are social animals, and they love staying close to their human caregivers. Your furry friend may sleep while exposing their vulnerable areas as a sign of companionship and affection.

Sleeping in such positions while receiving physical contact reinforces the emotional attachment the dog has to you.

3. Comfort and security

Dogs love a convenient resting place that gives them both comfort and security. Your pooch might join you on the sofa and sleep in the opposite direction because it gives them warmth and  piece of mind.

why do dogs sleep with their bum facing you
Image Credit: Meruyert Gonullu from Pexels

Your lovely pup will sleep knowing that you are there for them in case of any threat.

4. Temperature regulation

During the colder winter months, your dog may curl up with their rear end facing you on the bed to benefit from your body heat.

This helps them regulate their temperature and allows for a comfortable and secure sleep by your side.

5. Scent marking

Your dog may sleep with their bum facing you as a way of scent-marking, to protect their loved ones, and to mark territory.

Dogs have glands in their anal region that produce pheromones, which are unique scented chemical substances for each dog.

When you notice that your dog is not only exposing their rear end to you, but they are also rubbing it on your clothes, it could be a sign of marking to assert ownership.

6. Instinctual behavior

Dogs are pack animals and in the wild, they slept in clusters. Less dominant dogs would expose their vulnerable sides to the pack leaders, and this instinctual behavior has carried over to today’s family dogs.

Your lovely canine at home might sleep with you in close proximity to you while extending their rear end towards your face as a behavior inherited from their pack instincts.

7. Avoiding ventral contact

A study by researchers from Eötvös Lorand University found that dogs are not naturally inclined to look at human faces.

Your lovely pup may sleep with their rear end exposed to your face as a way of avoiding ventral contact with you. It’s just a natural and comforting position for them.

8. Protecting you

Dogs are protective by nature, even during sleep. Your furry friend may sleep with their butt facing you to have a better view of the other side for potential threats.

This is also in a good posture that enables them to respond to upcoming threats on time. This posture allows them to respond promptly to any upcoming dangers. By doing so, the dog is reciprocating your love and protecting you.

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9. They want to be left alone

If you join your dog on the bed and they quickly turn their butt towards you, it could be a gentle request for space.

Dogs need some lonely time once in a while despite their socially active lifestyle. If your pooch barks or growls while moving away from you, then you can know for sure that they need some moments of solitude.

10. Personal preferences and habits

Each dog has their own preferences when it comes to curling up and snuggling with their human caregivers during intimate moments.

A kid with a dog
Image Credit: Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Some dogs have formed the habit of facing the opposite side when they sleep with their owners because it makes them feel comfortable and content.

Common Misconceptions about this behavior

Some pet parents have held various misconceptions about dogs sleeping with their bums exposed to them.

These misconceptions have put dogs at risk of punishment or scolding for a natural behavior.

We are going to address two of the most common misconceptions about this behavior in dogs.

#1: It’s a sign of dominance or disrespect

Some people believe that dogs who sleep while sticking their butt to the owner’s face are showing nothing but disrespect or dominance.

This belief is however not accurate because well-trained dogs cannot show disrespect or dominance to their owners (pack leaders).

For starters, a dog that lack respect for their human caregivers would not even share a bed with them, let alone expose vulnerable areas.

Neglected dogs can show dominance over their owners by other means such as barking, howling, or even biting when seeking attention.

#2: Health concerns and hygienic risks

The other misconception about this behavior is the transfer of bacteria from the dog’s rear end to the human’s face or clothing.

Some pet parents holding this belief have worried about their hygiene and health concerns. You should however note that dogs don’t expose their butt open to their owners.

When they sleep in this posture, they often tuck their tail to cover the anal area making it difficult to spread bacteria or other pathogens.

Proper grooming and potty training can reduce the likelihood of hosting or transferring bacteria.

Managing The Behavior

While this behavior is natural for dogs and harmless to humans, some people may have issues with it. Here are some tips you can use to handle this behavior if you find it inconvenient:

1. Identify the root cause

As we have seen, many reasons could make your furry friend stick their bum as you sleep nearby.

First, you need to single out the possible reason why your dog does this. You may have to look out for other signs such as body language and vocalizations when you disrupt the dog in this position.

Once you know the possible reasons for this behavior, it will become easy to figure out a workable approach to redirect the behavior.

2. Create a comfortable sleeping area for your dog

Your dog deserves a comfortable and fully furnished area for afternoon naps and sleeping.

Some dog parents find it very amusing and rewarding to sleep with their dogs on one bed or couch, but experts have warned against this behavior.

Among the many reasons against sleeping with dogs on the same bed, you need to be mindful of the potential exposure to allergens.

You need to map out a designated sleeping area for your dog and furnish it with a comfy bed and enough bedding. The area needs to be penned, well-ventilated, and stocked with all your pet’s essentials.

Make sure the dog’s sleeping area is more comfortable than the couch, or your bed. Otherwise, your canine friend might not be interested in spending time in a boring bed.

Saluki on a comfy bed
Image Credit: Chewy from Unsplash

You can create a familiar scent in your dog’s bedding by rubbing your hands on the pillow or using scent soakers to exchange scents.

3. Redirect your dog to their area during sleep time

Once your furry friend gets drowsy, you can take them to their designated sleeping zone before they fall asleep.

You need to train your dog on how to respond to the ‘off’ command, as you may need to use it a lot when asking them to come off your bed.

Always use a calm and firm tone when asking your pup to retreat from your bed. You may need to climb down with them while redirecting them to their space.

We recommend that you create a schedule that shows the same sleeping time and waking time for your dog every day.

If your dog was heavily used to sleeping by your side, then you can expect to face a few hurdles during the first days.

4. Positive reinforcement

Make sure to reward your dog with high-value treats and praises when they step into their pen to sleep. Reward them only when they get inside the pen.

This will teach the dog that good things happen when they sleep in their designated spots, and they will mold a new sleeping behavior.

5. Establish boundaries within your home

You need to train your dog on the boundaries within your home. Let them know where they can go and what is expected of them.

If you’re allergic to pet dander, you may want to restrict your dogs and cats from accessing the bedroom or bedding.

You can do this by removing all pet-related accessories from your bedroom and giving them the ‘no’ command when they enter the restricted area.

6. Seek professional help

If your pooch is still persistent to curl up with you on the same bed, then you should seek professional help from a canine behaviorist.

The expert will assess your dog’s problem and work out a tailored treatment plan to redirect unwanted behavior.

When Does This Behavior Become a Problem?

The reasons that make your dog sleep with their bum facing you are not always positive. Sometimes your dog might be in pain. Here are a few instances when this behavior could indicate a problem:

1. Foul odor

If you can smell a foul (fishy) odor coming from your dog’s anal area, it could be a sign of infected anal sacs.

Other symptoms that may indicate irritation of the anal glands include biting on their rumps or sliding through the floor with their bottom.

2. Flea infestation

If your dog excessively bites or licks the anal area, it could be a sign of flea infestation in the coat around the butt area.

Fleas are external parasites that latch on the dog’s skin to feed on blood, and often lay eggs beneath the coat.

These tiny parasites cause irritation and itching on the skin. This makes the affected dog lick the area excessively.

The affected areas may turn red and develop hot spots, pale gums, and sometimes dark specs on the fur.

If you notice any of these problems when your dog sleeps by your side, make sure to speak to your vet as soon as possible for immediate help.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Is it normal for my dog to sleep with its bum facing me?

Yes, it’s perfectly normal for your dog to expose their bum to your face while sleeping.

This behavior shows the dog trusts you with their vulnerable areas, and some dogs have a natural instinct for this sleeping pattern.

2. What does it mean when a dog sleeps with its back to you?

Dogs are not wired to form face-to-face (ventral) contact with humans. They prefer to sleep on the opposite side to avoid making eye contact.

Making ventral contact could also signify confrontation, so the dog might not want to show dominance or defiance towards its owner.

3. How can I encourage my dog to sleep in a different position?

Provide them with a comfortable space for sleeping, furnished with a cozy bed and warm bedding.

You can gently redirect them to switch up their sleeping area by using firm but gentle commands and positive reinforcement.

4. Are there any health concerns related to dogs sleeping in this position

A well-groomed dog with a cleaned-up bum does not pose any significant health concerns with this sleeping posture.

A neglected dog may however pass bacteria and fleas when they come into close contact with humans during sleep or when being petted.

Conclusion – Why Do Dogs Sleep with Their Bum Facing You?

Your furry friend may choose to stick their rear end to you during sleep for a variety of reasons. It could be a sign of trust, them protecting you, marking territory, or simply feeling secure in that sleeping position.

If you share the bed with your dog and they switch sides while appearing uneasy, it could also be a gentle gesture to give them space.

This behavior is normal in dogs and generally not a cause of major concern unless there are accompanying issues such as a foul odor or persistent rubbing of the bum against you.

In such cases, it’s possible that the dog may be experiencing anal sac disease or infestation by fleas or ticks.

These conditions can be irritating and uncomfortable for dogs, so it’s important to visit the vet promptly for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Written By

Laura is the founder of Furs'n'Paws. She is a pet expert with more than 20 years of experience working with dogs and cats. She developed a very strong love for animals at a young age. Her passion led her to establish a thriving pet sitting and dog walking business in Dubai. As an expert in pet training, behavior, and nutrition, Laura is committed to helping pet owners and pet lovers by offering high-quality information on a wide range of topics.

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