If you regularly wake up in the middle of the night to find your dog snoozing on your belly, you might feel very loved or possibly slightly squashed, depending on the size of your pup. In the clear light of day, however, you might wonder if there’s a reason behind your dog’s choice of nap spot.
Your dog may lay on your stomach for several reasons, including feeling protective over you, seeking safety in your presence, or merely being affectionate. In this article, we’ll cover the possible reasons your dog lays on your stomach, as well as discuss whether a dog can sense whether their owner is pregnant.
The 6 Reasons Your Dog Lies On Your Stomach
1. They’re Feeling Protective
When you sleep, you are in an inherently vulnerable position, unprotected and unaware of your surroundings. Your dog, especially if they already have strong protective instincts, may lay on your stomach as a way of keeping watch over you. This might especially be true if you notice your dog isn’t sleeping on you, but simply laying down, keeping an eye on things.
2. They Want to Feel Safe
If your dog isn’t feeling protective, it’s also possible that they lay on you because they are hoping you will protect them! Anxious or nervous dogs may view their owners as a source of strength and safety. If that describes your dog, they may be laying on your stomach to feel safer.
3. They Have Separation Anxiety
Some dogs don’t mind spending a lot of time on their own. They’re independent and happy keeping their own company. Other dogs are the exact opposite. They are so attached to their owners that they develop separation anxiety when they must spend time apart from them. If you notice your dog often tries to lay on your stomach when you come home from a long day at work or school, it could be because they’re suffering separation anxiety. Laying on your stomach is your dog trying to get as close to you as possible to make up for the lost time that you weren’t together.
4. They Are Cold
Your dog’s natural body temperature is typically a few degrees higher than yours. However, most of us keep our homes a good 20 degrees cooler than our body temperature. That difference could cause your dog to feel cold, especially if they are a short-haired breed. Your dog could snuggle up to your stomach to poach your body heat and stay warm.
5. They Are Showing Affection
Your dog could be laying on your stomach simply as a way to show affection and get some cuddles. You’ve likely unintentionally reinforced this kind of behavior by petting your dog as they snuggle into your stomach. If you’re happy to allow your dog to continue laying on your stomach, by all means, keep rewarding them in this manner. However, if your dog is getting a little too big to comfortably lay on your stomach anymore, one way you can start training them not to is to avoid offering them affection when they cuddle up.
6. They Find You Relaxing
One reason new puppies cry on their first nights in their new home is that they miss the comfort of sleeping surrounded by their mother and littermates. Listening to the sound of the heartbeats and breathing is relaxing to them. In the same way, your dog may sleep on your stomach because they find it relaxing. Your calm breathing and steady heartbeat act as a living white noise machine for your pup.
Can Dogs Sense Pregnancy?
Pregnant people often claim that their dogs are aware of their pregnancies, sometimes even before they are themselves. They may notice that their dog likes to lay on their growing bellies as well. But is this true or merely the assumptions of a doting dog owner?
While there’s been no research to conclude whether dogs can sense pregnancy, we can draw some logical conclusions about the situation. First, pregnant people undergo significant hormone changes throughout their pregnancy. It’s reasonable to assume that their underlying scent may change as well.
Because a dog’s nose is so sensitive, it’s certainly possible that they can smell the change brought on by pregnancy hormones and change some of their behaviors because of it. It’s also possible that your dog shows behavior changes simply because they sense the differences in the pregnant person’s mood or behavior and are unsettled by them. A dog could become more clingy, standoffish, or protective depending on their individual response.
Many of us share a special bond with our dogs, one that shows itself in uniquely individual ways. Not every dog may enjoy laying on their owner’s stomach, but they will find other ways to show their affection. If you would prefer your dog to find another bed, however, understanding the possible reasons why your dog chooses to lay on your stomach can help you know the best way to train them to sleep elsewhere.
Featured Image Credit: Patrick Tangye, Shutterstock