Why Does My German Shepherd Want to Sleep with Me?

A few weeks ago, I had a client come to me asking if it was normal for her female German shepherds to always want to sleep with her. I’m sure my client is not the only one facing this problem, which is why I decided to write this post. Whether it’s good or not is another thing, and we will discuss more of it later. But for now, let’s answer this question: “why does your German shepherd want to sleep with you?”

German shepherds are naturally protective of those they love. This is the main reason why your German shepherds want to sleep with you. Usually, this behavior is exhibited more by females than by males as female shepherds are more protective of those they love, whereas males are more protective of their territory.

Of course, being protective is not the only reason your shepherd sleeps next to you, there are other possible reasons. Here are some of them.

Other Reasons Why Your German Shepherd Want to Sleep With You

Social Animals

Despite their reserved nature, German shepherds are social animals that don’t like to be alone. Newborn German shepherd puppies are used to sleeping together with their mother and littermates. Since they left their packs and became your family member, they are now looking to their humans to provide them with the warmth and love they missed.

Missed Early Socialization

Socialization is possibly the most critical aspect of dog training that you should begin early in your German shepherd’s life. Without good socialization early in life, your German shepherd will likely become overly protective and territorial, making them want to stay close to you anytime and anywhere.

Overly protective shepherds are dangerous and unpredictable. They won’t be able to distinguish between threatening and non-threatening situations and might end up attacking other people and animals. The lesson here is, don’t sleep on your dog’s socialization!

Separation Anxiety

According to some behaviorists, it is also possible that the reason behind your dog’s unwillingness to sleep alone is because they get separation anxiety. It’s a very common problem among German shepherds due to their tendency to bond so strongly with their owners.

This can occur with both puppies and adults, but puppies may react more strongly since they have endured separation from their mother and littermates. A dog with separation anxiety needs to be medicated immediately otherwise, they can exhibit an alarming behavior that is hard to stop, such as excessive howling and barking, becoming destructive, and trying to escape from their house.

Fear

Another reason is that your dog gets frightened. Your dog can develop fearful behavior as a result of the lack of early socialization or because they were picked on or mistreated as a puppy. With fear, the naturally protective German shepherd can become aggressive, taking their protective instinct too far.

If your shepherd is a puppy, be aware that they might undergo what is called a fear period. In this stage, your puppy may suddenly become worried, anxious, or afraid for no apparent reason other than their age.

Should I Let My German Shepherd Puppy Sleep with Me

Many dog owners are torn between the idea of letting their dogs sleep on their beds or not (1). For some, the dog on the bed provides a great sense of security and comfort,  but others find the idea unhygienic. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what’s best, but in my opinion…

…as a puppy, you shouldn’t let your German shepherd sleep with you in the bed, although they can sleep with you in the same room in their crate or bed. But it can be okay when your puppy matures into an adult dog.

There are several reasons why you want to avoid letting your shepherd puppy sleep in your bed, from house training them and teaching them obedience to showing them you are “the leader of the pack” and helping them to grow in their independence, which lead to less separation anxiety and increased resilience.

Even after they reach adulthood, I would still suggest keeping your dog out of your bed. A study has shown that while a dog’s presence in the bedroom may not disturb your sleep, the opposite may happen if they are on the bed (2). They could ruin your sleep by snoring, tossing and turning, or cover-hogging.

How to Teach My German Shepherd to Not Sleep On the Bed

The first thing that you need to remember is that, as with any behavioral modification procedure, if your shepherd has slept in your bed for some time, it will take a while until they learn to change their sleeping habits. 

Here are steps to keep your dog from sleeping in your bed:

  1. Make your bed unappealing to your dog.
  2. Create an appealing new sleeping zone.
  3. Tire out your dog.
  4. Lead your dog to their new sleeping space, and make it a positive experience.
  5. Make it a positive experience.

1. Make Your Bed Unappealing

Do whatever you can to make your bed less appealing to your dog. You can raise your bed to a height that’s too tall for them to hop up. You can also place obstacles around and on the bed, like a pen or upturned laundry basket, to make it less cozy and inviting than their own bed.

 2. Create an Appealing New Doggy Zone

Try to find a cozy corner in your bedroom or another room for your shepherd’s new sleeping space. Ideally, the new place should feel safe and secure, so they can sleep without worrying about something sneaking up on them in the middle of the night. You can also add some other things to their corner like their favorite toys, blanket, and pillow to make the transition as smooth as possible.

3. Tire Your Dog Out

A dog who isn’t tired will reject efforts to get them to sleep in an “unusual” place. The key here is to tire your shepherd out to keep them from acting out. Do whatever you can to tucker your dog out. You can have your dog do their favorite physical or mental exercises a few hours before bedtime.

4. Lead Your Dog to Their New Sleeping Space

Once your dog is tired, it’s about time to put them to bed. Lead them to their new bed space with their favorite treat or reward but don’t force them. If you force your dog to do something against their will, they will revert back to their previous habits.

5. Make It a Positive Experience

Praise and reward your dog with treats whenever they stay in their new bed. Most likely, for the first weeks, your dog will try to sleep in their old spot again. You don’t want to reinforce their old habit by giving them attention. Instead, lead them back to their bed, reward them, and then try again. Use a command like “stay” or  “go to bed” to help you.

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Related Questions

1. Why Does My Dog Want to Sleep with Me All of a Sudden?

They might feel anxious or are afraid of something in their room (such as pets) or that you have inadvertently encouraged them to sleep with you.

2. Why Does My German Shepherd Not Want to Sleep with Me All of A Sudden?

Your dog may change his sleeping area for various reasons. For example, they might feel your bedroom is too hot or too cold, or something upset them, or it is because they simply want their own room.

3. Why Does My German Shepherd Sleep On Me and Not My Husband?

Your dog may prefer you over your husband because you are always there with them. Still, naturally, if one person in a couple spends more time with the dog, the dog will yearn to spend time with the other partner too.

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