A sound wakes you in the middle of the night.
It’s your dog’s weight rattling the door. They plop down. Right there. On the plain, hard floor.
What on earth is happening?
Take a moment to compose yourself and…
Read on to learn:
- Why your dog sleeps by the door.
- 10 real reasons behind this odd behavior.
- Whether you need to be concerned about it.
- The interesting role breed plays in this matter.
- And much more…
Why does my dog sleep by the door?
Your dog sleeps by the door because protecting you is the prime objective. If you’re in bed, that spot is the best place to do it from. If you’re not home, they’re by the door waiting for you. Other factors could include separation anxiety, temperature curiosity, boredom, and sexual maturity.
Top 10 reasons why your dog sleeps by the door
Your dog sleeps by the door because they’re guarding you. Some dogs are more likely to do this than others. It can all come down to breed.
Our canine companions are generally associated with guarding. From the massive Rottweiler to the tiny but incredibly feisty Chihuahua.
But certain breeds make better guard dogs than others. It’s a combination of their instincts, temperament, and physicality.
Along with the Rottweiler, the AKC enumerates the following breeds as the best guard dogs:
- Cane Corso.
- Canaan Dog.
- Tibetan Mastiff.
- Thai Ridgeback.
- Giant Schnauzer.
- Belgian Laekenois.
- Spanish Water Dog.
- Doberman Pinscher.
- Barbado da Terceira.
- Australian Shepherd.
- Bouvier des Flandres.
- Black Russian Terrier.
- Estrela Mountain Dog.
- German Shepherd Dog.
- Bergamasco Sheepdog.
- Perro de Presa Canario.
- Catahoula Leopard Dog.
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
- Anatolian Shepherd Dog.
- Appenzeller Sennenhund.
- Caucasian Shepherd Dog.
- Chesapeake Bay Retriever.
- Central Asian Shepherd Dog.
- Romanian Mioritic Shepherd Dog.
That’s a list to rival Rapunzel’s hair in length. It probably comes as a surprise to most people. We automatically think of all dogs functioning as guardians.
But it goes deeper than that. And even simple behavior such as sleeping by the door for optimum protection can be explained by breed.
#2: They’re protecting you
Building on reason #1, your dog is protecting you. They’ve made the spot by the door their guard post. That’s why they sleep there.
It makes sense. They know it’s the entry point. If an intruder is going to get to you, they’ll have to walk through there. Or they can try.
Your dog could just sleep beside you. They could still protect you from there. But why wait for the intruder to get that close? It’s better to intercept them at some distance.
And what better obstacle to stand in the way than your fearsome guard dog. You could very well inscribe that quote from Dante’s Inferno above your door.
“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”
It would be very fitting.
#3: They’re expanding their protectorate
Perhaps your dog used to sleep in their bed, or yours. So why the sudden change of location?
It’s strategic. Surveillance is better from that spot.
As your pup matures, their instincts are compounded. They feel a greater sense of responsibility.
They want to protect not only you but every household member too.
My friend, Nicole, has a German Shepherd puppy named Valkyrie. At 2½ months old, Val had a coming-of-age experience.
While Nicole was fast asleep, there was an emergency. Her grandfather who lives some 45 minutes away suffered a stroke. Her dad and brother rushed off at 4 AM. Nicole was clueless but Val noticed.
Normally, when Nicole would hit the snooze button in the morning, Val would have none of it. She’d pounce on her fur mom, licking and nuzzling her awake.
But on that particular morning, Nicole was surprised. She noticed Val beside her, alert and watching her. She thought nothing of it and drifted back to sleep.
She could hear her mom calling for Val. On any given day, Val would bolt out the door at the sound of her nana summoning her.
That’s because nana is the quintessential grandma. She spoils her fur grandchild with lots of tasty food.
But Val wouldn’t budge. She knew something was wrong. She didn’t know what exactly. Only that it was definitely amiss. And she wouldn’t leave her fur mom unprotected.
Since that day, Val lays at their bedroom doorway. She positions herself there before Nicole can close it.
She monitors everyone in the house. Only when everyone has retired to the safety of their own rooms does she go up the bed.
Your dog may not have had an identical experience. But a greater sense of responsibility could be the reason they now sleep at the door.
#4: Separation anxiety
Does your dog tend to follow you everywhere? Are they distressed when they can’t be by your side?
Chances are they’re suffering from separation anxiety. It’s common among dogs, most notably puppies.
This form of anxiety can be more pronounced in some than in others. And one manifestation can be sleeping by your bedroom door.
The dogs we previously mentioned voluntarily trade the bed for the entryway. They do it for the greater good – their dog parent’s protection.
But your fur baby might be sleeping there for a different reason.
Some dog parents don’t want their pups in their bedrooms. And especially not on their beds. It’s understandable.
Dogs lie and roll everywhere. Out in the yard, and all throughout the different areas of the house.
It’s a lot of work cleaning them up every night and getting them ready for bed. Then you wake up in the morning and your comforter looks like the floor of a barbershop.
So it’s not unusual for some dog parents to let their pooches sleep in a different part of the house. There they pass all the hours of the night alone.
For a dog with separation anxiety, this is torment. They just want to be by your side. But there’s a barrier – that blasted rectangular piece of wood.
Very well. That’s where they’ll settle down and sleep. It’s as close as they can get to you.
Check out also: 17 reasons why your dog is clingy all of a sudden
#5: They’re waiting for you to come home
Dogs love having daily routines. And they can become stressed when it’s altered.
It’s easier on your pooch if you work a nine-to-five or follow some other regular schedule. You leave home at the same time in the morning. And they can expect you back at the same time at night.
But it’s tougher on them if you’re an emergency healthcare professional. Your schedule is variable. A call comes in at a completely random hour and you have to run back to work.
Or perhaps you’re a detective working a case and you need to follow a new lead. Or you could be a lawyer and your client has just gotten arrested and you have to get down to the station.
Whatever your line of work, duty calls and you must answer.
The comforts of your dog’s bed are forgotten. They’ll sleep by the door so they’re notified at once when you return home.
And of course, they can’t risk the cat being the first one there to greet you.
#6: They feel warm
Temperature can affect the sleep quality of mammals. This is something better understood in humans.
But a study took a broader look at its role in our fellow milk-producing vertebrates. It found the same.
Organisms, such as humans and dogs, are able to maintain their core body temperatures through thermoregulation. This mechanism is also known as heat regulation.
Thermoregulation warms us up when we’re cold. And it cools us down when we’re too warm. You can think of it as your body’s internal thermostat.
Core temperatures begin to lower as bedtime approaches. And this drop induces sleep. As the researchers put it, “thermoregulatory mechanisms are fundamental to sleep.”
According to Dr. Katherine Houpt, a dog’s sleeping position has to do with thermoregulation.
A dog that sleeps curled up is trying to keep warm. While a dog that’s sprawled on its side is trying to cool down.
Dogs sleeping by the door are often in the latter position. This is a strong indicator that they’re in that spot because they feel warm.
As dog parents, we might have other ideas. A nice, cozy bed is ideal. So that’s what we buy them. Or we fluff up the duvet on their side of our bed to make it “warmer and more comfortable.”
But really, what dogs need for better sleep is a cooler temperature. And that’s something they find on the nice, cold tiles.
Read next: Why does my dog sleep in my spot?
#7: They’re curious
Your dog checked. Yup. It’s the cat curiosity killed. So they’re all good.
“What does curiosity have to do with anything?”
Well, dog parent with very limited senses, that’s a good question.
We microsmatic species primarily depend on our vision. But our canine companions are a macrosmatic species. They’re dependent on their olfaction or sense of smell. And it’s truly spectacular!
Scientists estimate that your pup’s olfaction is “10,000 to 100,000 times as acute” as your own.
Before you collect the brain splatters of your blown mind off the floor, consider this…
Animal behavior expert, Dr. Susan Hazel, says canine audition or hearing can pick up sounds from as far away as 0.6214 miles or a kilometer.
Kinda makes you wonder if Stan Lee got the inspiration for Daredevil from dogs.
If you were to lay by the front door, you’d doze off in seconds. There’s nothing at all interesting for you to see. But dogs don’t need to see. That’s the whole point.
“My front door has one of those built-in windows.”
Oh. Okay. Then they’d definitely have a peek outside. But what I’m trying to say is that they’d have so much to take in just on smells and sounds alone.
The door presents no real obstacle for a curious pooch. They can sit there and be nosy neighbors, “spying” on everyone on the street.
Further reading: Dog Constantly Sniffing The Ground: 7 Reasons + 7 Tips
#8: They’re bored
Your dog could be sleeping at the door because they’re bored.
After all that we’ve mentioned about their senses, it’s no surprise.
There’s so much waiting on the other side of that door. They can smell it and hear it.
They’ve experienced it before (you’ve definitely brought them out of the house before, right?). And now it’s calling to them again.
While they’re cooped up inside, they can sense the world alive outside. And it’s all there waiting for them. Or more accurately, it’s waiting for you to bring out your pooch.
#9: They need to go potty
If you’ve trained your dog to relieve themselves outside the house, congratulations! That’s a job well done. Also, that could be the reason they’re sleeping by the door. Especially in the morning.
You share your bedroom with them. So you’ve probably woken up on some days to find they’re not on their bed, or yours. Instead, they’re sleeping by the door.
This could mean they need to go potty already. They can still hold it in. Maybe a few minutes more. So there’s no need to make a fuss and wake you before the alarm clock does.
But they’ll be waiting right by the door. And the minute you’re up, it’s time for the mad dash out into the yard.
You might also want to know: Why does my dog cry in the morning?
#10: They’re plotting their escape
No, no! It’s not what you think. They’re not trying to run away from you. Well, just temporarily anyway. They’re responding to the “call of the wild.”
Your pup may have reached the age of sexual maturity. That’s right. Your fur baby can now make babies of their own.
Brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it? It was only yesterday when they fit snugly in both your hands.
But according to AKC, they can already sire pups at only 5 months old. In your mind, they’re still your little baby. But they’re now eager to be fruitful and multiply.
That’s not to say that the moment the door opens, they’ll bound off. And they’ll mount the first female they come across.
But they do feel that urge to go out there, explore, and copulate. And maybe sleeping by the door is them waiting for that opportune moment.