If your German Shepherd has been sleeping by your head a lot, this post will show you why it might be doing it and what you can do about it.

So, why does my German Shepherd sleep by my head? Possible reasons are that it is being protective, it makes it feel safer, it has some separation anxiety or that you have inadvertently reinforced the behavior.

You can consider a number of different nuances when trying to figure out why it does it. Once you have a good idea of why it does it you will be able to get it to stop much more easily.

Why your German Shepherd sleeps by your head

There are a number of clues that might come with each of the different reasons why your German Shepherd sleeps by your head. Below, I’ll show you a number of reasons why it might be doing it and what would make them more likely.

It makes it feel more secure

The reason why it does it could be that it makes it feel more secure. This would be more likely if it does it more when things are happening that might make it feel insecure such as there being fireworks, thunder and lightning or a strong wind that is making a noise. However, it could still be the reason if it always does it as well.

It has some separation anxiety

The cause could be that it has some separation anxiety. This is where it does not like being left alone and being left alone causes it to become nervous. This would be more likely if it gets anxious when you do not let it sleep with you. It would also be more likely if it gets anxious when you are about to leave. Signs of being anxious could include pacing, whining and becoming destructive.

You have inadvertently reinforced the behavior

It could be that you have inadvertently reinforced the behavior. This would be more likely if you tend to give it things that it wants when it sleeps by your head such as positive attention, belly rubs or treats. If you give do give it things that it wants when it does it then it will learn that it will get it things that it wants so it will do it more.

It’s being protective

The reason why it does it could be that it is being protective. This would be more likely if it sleeps by your head more when other people are around and if it can get overprotective when other people are around.

Things to consider

There are many things that you can consider when trying to figure out why your German Shepherd has been sleeping by your head. Below, I’ll show you some particularly important things to consider.

When it started doing it

When trying to figure out why your German Shepherd sleeps by your head it would help to consider when it first started doing it. If it started doing it suddenly then it could be that there was an event that triggered it to start doing it.

Things that might have happened could include:

  • You inadvertently rewarded it one time when it slept there
  • The place that it normally would sleep became unavailable to it
  • You asked it to come and sleep with you and it learned that its what you want

When it does it more

It would also help to consider the timing of when it sleeps there. If it does not always do it but it does it some of the time then it could be the case that there is an event that causes it to start doing it.

Things that might happen could include:

  • Someone being around that it doesn’t like or know
  • There are fireworks or other noises
  • You’re sleeping at a different location than you normally would

How to get your German Shepherd to stop sleeping by your head

The best way for you to get your German Shepherd to stop sleeping by your head will depend on the cause. However, I will show you some options that you have below.

Train it to sleep somewhere else

To get your German Shepherd to stop sleeping by your head you could train it to sleep somewhere else using positive reinforcement training.

To train your German Shepherd to sleep somewhere else you would train it to lay down in a certain spot and then gradually train it to stay there for longer and longer periods.

I have written about you how you can train your German Shepherd to lay down here and how you can train it to stay here.

Deal with its separation anxiety

It would also help to deal with your German Shepherd’s separation anxiety if it seems to have it.

To do this you would need to gradually get it used to being without you for longer and longer periods. You would do this by:

  • Initially making it seem like you are about to leave and then to reward it for not becoming anxious
  • Leave for a very short period and then reward it for not being anxious again
  • Leave for longer and longer periods rewarding it for not being anxious each time.

You can watch the video below to see more on how this is done:

Avoid reinforcing the undesirable behavior

As mentioned above it could be the case that you have inadvertently trained it to sleep by your head by rewarding it when it does it.

Instead of giving it things that it wants, when it sleeps by your head, it would help to avoid rewarding it and to train it to sleep somewhere else as mentioned above.

Make its sleeping environment comfortable

It would also help to give it a comfortable place to sleep in order to encourage it to sleep there instead of by your head.

You could do this by getting a dog bed for it, and keeping the room dark and cool at night so that it can sleep more easily.

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