Should I pet my dog while sleeping?

Dear Doggy,

My dog is the love of my life and is irresistibly cute when he is sleeping. He just looks so peaceful and I want to give him some love. Should I pet my dog while sleeping?

Nap Cuddles

Dear Cuddles,

Generally speaking, you should avoid petting your pet dog while he is sleeping. Dogs require 12 to 14 hours of sleep a day and startling him with a sudden touch can disrupt his REM cycle. If you startle a dog from a nightmare, it may take a while for him to realize it was only a dream and he might accidentally bite you. The safer way to rouse a dog is to call his name softly before gently touching him.

You may be familiar with the saying, “Let sleeping dogs lie.” This adage speaks about the dangers of disrupting a seemingly harmless situation but ending up with dire consequences.

Yet when you look at your cute cuddly pooch snoozing peacefully, all you want is to stroke him lovingly. Here are some reasons why you should leave your dog alone if it is asleep:

  • Dogs require a lot of sleep. An average dog snoozes 50% to 70% of each day (12 to 14 hours) to revive his strength from all his activities. A puppy even needs 19 hours of sleep daily. If you insist on petting your dog from his deep sleep, you may be robbing him of his much-needed rest.
  • Dogs experience REM cycles. Like humans, canines go through Rapid Eye Movement (REM) during their slumbers. Uninterrupted REM sleep helps to commit their experiences of the day to long-term memory. It also contributes to the dog’s learning ability.
  • Dogs can attack if woken up suddenly. Dogs also get nightmares. They relieve some of their unpleasant experiences throughout the day. If you accidentally wake up a dog from a nightmare, he might think that he is in immediate danger and attack you.

If it is necessary to wake up your dog, call his name softly first, and when he slowly wakes up, you may pet him gently.

Where Do Dogs Like To Be Pet When Sleeping?

Petting your dog is the easiest way to bond with your canine friend. But can you do it while he’s asleep? If so, do dogs have specific spots where they like to be petted? 

It is generally better to refrain from petting a dog while it is sleeping, otherwise, it will wake up in a bad mood and be aggressive. If your dog is shaking or whimpering while having a nightmare, call his name first before touching him. You can stroke him on the rear very gently and stop if you see he went back to sleep. Some dogs that like to be petted in their sleep prefer to be stroked on the chest or shoulders.

Only a few people can resist the cuteness of a sleeping dog. Though it is quite tempting to stroke their fur while they peacefully rest, it is best not to pet them while sleeping.

Dogs are in their most defenseless state when they are sleeping. If you catch them off guard even with a well-meaning touch, they might interpret it as a threat and assault you with a scratch or nip.

Pet owners get worried if they see their dog having an awful nightmare. If your dog starts whimpering and shaking, don’t just grab or shake him. Softly call his name first and as he comes to, you may stroke him gently.

Some dogs learn to tolerate and even appreciate being petted while sleeping. In this case, the safest places to pet them are their chest, shoulders, hind part, and back of the neck.

Awake or asleep, steer clear of petting the dog on the top of its head, ears, snout, tail, legs, and paws. It is also best to wait for a pup to show signs that he likes to be stroked like appearing relaxed, sniffing, or snuggling against you.

Do Dogs Feel Safe When They Sleep?

It gives you a warm restful feeling whenever you see your dog sleeping peacefully. But does he really feel safe when he snoozes? 

Your dog’s sleeping position and environment are associated with how safe he feels while he is sleeping. A pooch who sleeps on their side or their backs with their legs stretching upward is very comfortable to their surroundings. While a dog who sleeps curled up in a ball or belly down is feeling less secure and is protecting his vulnerable parts. A canine that slumbers indoors feels safer than the one who has to sleep outside. 

There are ways to tell if your dog feels protected while it naps:

  • Sleeps indoors – A doggo that sleeps inside the safety of your home sleeps better than the one who sleeps outside. There are lesser unknown factors indoors that might interrupt their sleep, and they are comfortable to doze off with familiar faces around. 
  • Lies on its side – This position exposes his vital organs too well. So if a dog chooses to sleep this way, he is very agreeable to his surroundings. Pups often experience REM or deep periods of sleep in this position so you will likely see its extended legs moving when it is dreaming.
  • Lies on its back – With its belly and chest exposed and legs stretching upward, this might be the comfiest dog sleeping position. It will be hard for a snoozing dog to get up on his feet from this pose, so he feels the safest in the current environment. When hot, a dog also cools himself by laying his belly bare.

If your pooch’s favored sleeping position is curling up in a ball or the “superman pose” where it is sprawled with its full stomach down, it is feeling less secure and wanting to safeguard its sensitive parts. 

Do Dogs Know When Humans Are Sleeping?

It is fascinating how your lively pup jumps at you as soon as you are waking up. Can dogs tell if you are sleeping or awake?

Overall, dogs can tell if humans are sleeping by observing facial and bodily movements, specific odors and sounds, and chemical changes. Your pooch can recognize minute signs like a slight stir, the flickering of eyelids, and changes in your breathing patterns and body temperature. Although it is not yet proven that canines can tell time, they can be trained to understand your sleeping behavior and routines.

Have you ever tried fake sleeping because you want to extend your sleep on a weekend, yet your dog called your bluff and started licking your face? How can he tell that you are awake?

  1. Dogs observe your facial and body reactions. Clear signs like closed eyelids, a restful expression, relaxed limbs, and lying down on a couch or bed can be easily picked up by your pooch as sleeping signs. So if they ever see your eyes open for a bit, your body slightly moves, or if you ever get up in the dark, he is quick to perceive that, too.
  2. Dogs have heightened senses. It is no secret that canines see, hear, and detect scents better than people do. So dogs can see in the dark that you started to stir, can hear your breathing more loudly, and even the smell of your morning breath as you wake up. They can also feel your temperature rising and your muscles starting to tense up a bit.
  3. Dogs are very attentive to your routines. Regardless whether dogs can tell if it is daytime or night, they are very attentive of your daily activities and behaviors. These include your sleep schedule and what you do if you are about to get up. 

Recent Content