If your dog has been leaning against you, while sleeping, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do about it.

Possible reasons why your dog has been leaning on you when sleeping are that it is being protective, it makes your dog feel safer, separation anxiety, nature or that it has learned that the behavior is rewarded.

Since there are a number of different possible causes, it would help to consider what would make each of them more likely.

Why your dog leans on you when sleeping

Below are a number of possible reasons why your dog has been doing it and what would make each of them more likely.

Encouraging the behavior

It could be the case that it has learned that it gets rewards for leaning against you when sleeping. If you tend to give it things such as belly rubs, when it leans against you, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.


The reason why it does it might be that it makes it feel safer. Dogs are pack animals and they evolved to spend most of their time around the other dogs and people in the pack so it is natural that being near you will make it feel more secure.

Separation anxiety

The cause might be that it has separation anxiety and it wants to be woken up when you leave. This is where it does not like being left alone and being left alone causes it to become anxious. This would be more likely if your dog does it more at around the same time that you would normally leave home and if it tends to become anxious when you are leaving home.

It is being protective

The reason why your dog leans on you could be that it is being protective. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more when there are other people or animals around and if it can get overly protective around them.


Many people jump to the conclusion that their dogs do it because they are trying to be dominant. However, the alpha/beta dynamic has been disproven in studies showing that wolves take turns in taking the lead.

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.

What else happened when your dog first started doing it

It would help to consider when your dog first started leaning on you since it might be the case that there was an event that caused it to start doing it.

Some things to consider would be:

  • If you moved home
  • If someone else moved away
  • If its daily routine changed
  • If you started working different hours

In the examples above, it would make it more likely that something such as separation anxiety would be the cause.

What is different when it does not do it

It would also help to consider the timing of when it leans on you since the timing could also have something to do with it.

For example, if it tends to lean on you more before getting fed or given a walk, it might be doing it to get woken up when you are ready to feed or walk it.

What to do about it

Below are some options you have if you want to get your dog to stop leaning on you when sleeping.

Avoid rewarding it

Since your dog might be doing it for attention, one option would be to avoid rewarding it with attention when it does it. One way to do this would be to get it to stop leaning on you, wait for it to calm down and then to give it attention and to repeat the process if it does it again. Doing this should help to teach it that leaning on you doesn’t get it rewards.

It would also help to try and recognize when it is likely to start doing it and to redirect its focus onto standing or sitting somewhere else by training it to do so with positive reinforcement training.

Train it not to do it

You can also train your dog not to lean on you by training it to sit or lay somewhere else. You can do this by teaching it to sit or to lay down somewhere and then by gradually teaching it to stay there over longer and longer time periods.

You can do this by applying the same techniques as in the video below:

Give it another place to sleep

In addition to the above, you could also try giving it another place to sleep. Alternatively, crate training might be another option since it should be able to give your dog an area to go where it can feel secure.

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