Why Does My Dog Sleep on Me and Not My Husband?
As humans, we’re not supposed to play favorites.
Not with children, coworkers, or siblings.
What about dogs?
Dogs, on the other hand, don’t play by our rules.
If you think about it, it’s not a big surprise.
Dogs sniff each other’s butts – and lick their own bottoms.
They also do things like drink from the toilet and eat poop from the litter box.
Can we really expect them to stick to social constructs and not have favorites?
The answer is no:
If you’re asking yourself, why does my dog cuddle with me and not my husband, the short answer is your dog has a favorite human in the house.
What does that mean, and is it a big deal?
After all, isn’t it sweet to have your pup sleep with you? Heck, your dog may take to sleeping on your head, which you’d find adorable right?
We’ll cover how to handle a dog picking a favorite person, and why it’s usually not an issue at all – besides maybe some wounded feelings.
The Bonding Process
Puppies go through a socialization period during their first three months of life.
Who they interact with and how those interactions go will form what kind of personality they have as an adult dog.
Think about this:
Many puppies leave their dog mothers and siblings at as little as eight weeks of age.
They’re still in the midst of their socialization period when they have to readjust to a completely different situation.
Now, they have a human mother – you.
It’s a lonely time for a new puppy when they go from their litter to a forever home.
It makes sense:
If you were the primary caregiver in that adjustment period, your puppy likely formed a close bond with you.
Not only were you around the most, but you were also the one providing essentials for them – including attention.
Your husband might be a little bit bummed if your puppy seems closer to you, but it’s nothing personal.
Puppies have the ability to form tight bonds with people they’re around the most, and the more time your husband spends with the puppy, the more equally the affection will be split.
If it makes your husband feel any better, he would probably be the favorite if he was the one doing most of the raising in the early days.
Dogs are social creatures and pack animals.
They need socialization, and whoever provides the bulk of that socializing is someone the puppy will grow very close to.
Is it Ever an Issue?
Puppies should be socialized with as many people as possible during the socialization period.
While it’s okay for a puppy to be close to you, they should be exposed to other people to avoid anxiety upon meeting someone new in the future.
The only time it would be a concerning issue for a puppy to choose you over your husband is if the puppy becomes fearful or reluctant to spend time with him.
This can strain the dog, and human relationship and potentially devolve into the dog guarding you against everyone, husband included.
To avoid this?
It’s crucial for your husband to spend as much time with the puppy as possible.
Even if you’re at home more than he is, he and the puppy can still get some quality bonding time.
Have your husband do the feeding; let him walk the puppy, or leave the room while they play a game of tug.
The puppy needs to understand they can’t always go to you for all of their needs.
Protecting the Pack
You and your husband are part of your dog’s pack, and you might be a pack of just three.
Dogs display complex social behaviors – a remnant of their wolf ancestry.
One reason your dog might be sleeping on you and not your husband is they’ve decided you need protecting more than he does.
Most dogs have some level of instinct to guard and protect their people.
This can manifest itself in ways such as barking at strangers or strange noises, patrolling the yard, or sleeping on you.
Why you and not your husband?
It’s all about protecting the weaker members of the pack.
Now, we don’t think you’re weak, and weakness doesn’t have anything to do with gender.
Your dog doesn’t know that.
If you’re smaller than your husband, that’s all your dog sees.
In their eyes, they think you need looking after more than your husband, who can hold his own because of his size.
It’s the same reason dogs can be fiercely protective of children and babies.
Dogs aren’t misogynistic; they’re just looking at biological differences between you and your husband when choosing who they want to guard during sleep times.
It’s pretty sweet if you think about it.
Should I Stop My Dog from Sleeping on Me?
There are only two cases in which you need to put a stop to this behavior.
The first case?
If it’s uncomfortable and just not working out, your husband has a right to cuddle with you, after all.
If the dog is making it hard to sleep comfortably or sleep like a normal married couple, they should be encouraged to sleep at the foot of the bed or in their own spot nearby.
It’s normal to want to roll out the red carpet for your dog and sometimes spoil them – just don’t do it at the expense of your relationship or your sleep.
The second scenario in which we recommend curbing this behavior is if your dog guards you aggressively.
Your husband should be able to safely climb into bed and move or adjust the dog without the dog being aggressive.
In some of these cases you might even find your dog standing on you.
Aggressive behaviors can sneak up on you and can begin small.
A dog vocally “sassing” the person trying to move them can develop nippy tendencies if not corrected.
It can also start out as what seems like playful, gentle bites, which are actually warning signs that the dog is prepared to really bite if you push them.
At the first sign of your dog resource guarding you, it’s time to revoke their bed and furniture privileges temporarily.
Whisking them away from their sleeping spot near or on you is the opposite of what they want.
Put them in a different room to send a clear message that it won’t get them their way to snap or growl when being pet or any other engagement by your husband.
A New Pack Member on the Way
If you’re child-free, this won’t apply to you.
If your dog clings to you, it’s because you’re doing an amazing job at being a different kind of mom.
If you’re expecting a human sibling for your dog, however, this could be a reason for them to choose you over your husband.
Your growing stomach isn’t the only thing that can tip a dog off to a baby on the way.
The hormonal changes happening in your body can be literally sniffed out by your dog.
This also raises the point that a dog can sometimes tell something is up with your body – like pregnancy – before you do.
So if you suspect you’re pregnant but not sure, your dog’s extra attention can tip you off that it’s time to take a test.
There’s even some evidence that those hormones cause your dog’s brain to go into protection mode and act more alert.
Expectant mothers know something else about those hormones – they can wreak havoc on the emotions.
Ever notice your dog seems to know when you’re feeling down, or stick close when you’re having a cry?
Odds are the mood swings will hit you at some point during pregnancy, and your dog will want to comfort you in their own way.
For many dogs, this includes sticking close to you.
Is it Okay for My Dog to Sleep With Me While I’m Pregnant?
The same rules apply if you’re pregnant or not – as long as the dog isn’t aggressively guarding you or making sleep impossible, it’s okay.
Look at this dog guarding his mom’s stomach.
This is a good example of aggressive guarding that needs correcting.
On the other hand, look at these sweet pups (and cat).
They’re being gentle, not chasing off dad, and not trying to climb all over mom’s belly.
Which brings us to the other guideline regarding dogs sleeping with you during pregnancy.
Letting them lay directly on your belly is inadvisable unless they’re a very lightweight dog.
There are some special circumstances that may apply if your dog is a rescue.
If you know or suspect they were abused in the past, consider the fact their abuser could have been male.
If this is true:
It could be the only reason your dog gives your husband a wide berth.
Conversely, if the abuser was female, your dog might take quite a while to warm up to you.
This is a difficult and emotional territory to navigate, and it requires enormous patience and compassion from everyone.
In some cases:
A dog trainer or behaviorist can help your dog move forward in this situation.
If your dog has a fear of males, it’s crucial not to force their fears upon them.
Never corner or pressure a dog into contact, which they are clearly opposed to.
For example, finding your dog sitting behind you on the couch may be sign of apprehension. Understand what’s truly going on before forcing any behavioral change.
Luckily, dogs can learn to trust again under the right circumstances.
Small steps are vital.
Allowing your dog to see your husband put food or treats down is a great trust-building activity.
Letting the dog approach you when you’re ready is essential, and feeding the dog will encourage this.
Why does my dog cuddle with me or sit on me and not my husband?
It’s because yes, it’s possible for your dog to have a favorite person they like to cuddle.
Don’t be offended if you’re not the favorite.
The reasons dogs have for bonding to one human aren’t superficial or based on a whim.
Dogs can easily be socialized with other family members to the point where they cuddle everyone equally.
Take the time needed:
If they don’t have the opportunity to socialize with other human pack members, cuddling with you only becomes a problem if it involves aggression or puts a damper on your sleep habits.
It’s quite flattering to have a dog choose to cuddle with you over other people in the household.
Just don’t rub it in too hard.
How would you feel if you were your dog’s second choice for cuddles?
In the end, it benefits everyone to encourage the dog to cuddle elsewhere once in a while.