Dogs are loyal and loving companions to humans. As most pet owners know, dogs are apt to cuddle and show affection first thing in the morning more than any other time of day.
Why are Dogs Affectionate in the Morning?
A dog is most affectionate in the morning because your pet wants your attention! For most pets, the need for attention stems from their desire to enjoy breakfast or the need to relieve themselves, but affectionate mornings meet more than basic needs. Dogs often feel connected to their owners and want to express love, trust, and security with morning affection.
Affectionate Dog Behavior:
As with many distinct dog behaviors, morning affection can be sweet and companionable, but some owners might still wonder if affection is a normal dog behavior. Keep reading for more information about why dogs like to cuddle when waking up!
1. Morning Greeting
The primary and most common reason your dog is affectionate in the morning is that they are excited to see you and want to offer a warm morning greeting. Dogs do not have to worry about that early morning meeting or responding to emails but rather look forward to seeing you, going for walks, and undertaking their established daily routine.
When your dog licks your face and nuzzles its head into the blanket, they wake up and are excited to see you. Morning clinginess is normal dog behavior, and nearly all dog owners cherish their morning cuddles.
Some signs your dog is waking up happy include a soft gaze, a gently wagging tail, or ears comfortable and relaxed. Say “hello” and jump into the day!
2. Warm and Cozy
Some dogs, especially smaller ones or those with short coats, might be more affectionate in the morning and constantly want to cuddle with you when lying in bed because they like to be warm and cozy.
Temperatures generally drop after sunset, and in some homes, pet parents are more comfortable with the fan or air conditioner circulating cool air. In either situation, your pet might want to cuddle to feel warmer.
Cuddling is one common way dogs demonstrate affection, and your pet might cuddle with other pets or under blankets. So long as your pet does not get too warm, this behavior is perfectly acceptable. In particular, older dogs tend to experience coldness and are inclined to cuddle with their owner more often.
So, on cold winter mornings, pull those covers up, hit snooze, and cuddle with your affectionate pup for a few extra minutes.
3. Ready for Breakfast
Dogs rely on their owners for their basic needs, and first thing in the morning, those needs are primarily breakfast and a bathroom break. Researchers found that pets, particularly dogs, remain human-dependent for their entire life.
Dogs are creatures of habit, and from an early age, one of the most common routines is waking up and eating the morning meal and having a drink of water.
Especially if your pup is a chow hound, their morning affection could be food-driven. And because your dog associates your waking with the delivery of food, affection may follow.
4. Reciprocating Affection
If you are naturally affectionate and loving, then the likelihood increases that your pet will reciprocate your love with a physical or vocal manifestation. Your dog might nuzzle their head, lick your face, or whimper as they aim to express affection.
If affection is a learned behavior, then as your puppy ages, their affection and clinginess will also increase. If you want to build a more affectionate relationship with your pet, reward the behaviors you would like to see. For example, in the mornings, if your dog snuggles beside you or wags its tail when you say good morning, give them lots of praise.
5. Breed Characteristics
Some breeds have specific characteristics that tend to manifest as affection. For instance, dachshunds will burrow under covers, and Jack Russells are constantly underfoot. Other affectionate breeds include pugs, border collies, and labrador retrievers. The idea that breed impacts affection is commonly accepted by the animal community.
6. Safe and Secure
Snuggling can make everyone feel safe and secure, whether dog or human. For dogs, cuddling with someone they love and respect is reminiscent of being puppies and sleeping with their mom and littermates. The nostalgic feelings of cuddling for warmth and safety are reinforced and help your dog feel secure.
When your pet feels safe and secure as they wake from slumber, you are likely to experience affection like cuddles or kisses.
7. Protection Success
Many dogs have a strong desire to protect the people they love, so when your pet wakes up and recognizes that you are awake and safe, your pet feels successful! Protection is a strong drive from many dog breeds.
Particularly if your dog has the training to be a service dog, the need to provide protection is one of the ultimate drivers for your dog. Dogs might also know that you have been weaker while you sleep, so cuddling could be your pet’s way to protect you physically.
If your dog growls when others are near your bed, protection is a driver for their morning affection.
8. Burst of Energy
For young dogs or specific breeds, a high energy level might be the reason for an increased level of morning affection. After a good night’s rest, your dog is likely ready to stretch its legs and jump into its daily routine.
An active morning greeting is indicative of an energetic dog. If your dog wakes you with lots of licks and a fast wagging tail, then the morning burst of energy could be your dog’s primary reason for showing affection.
9. Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
Many dogs experience separation anxiety on some level, so even a night apart for sleeping can cause some unintended stressful absence. If your dog sleeps in a crate and suffers from separation anxiety, morning cuddles likely stem from an intense desire to remain close to you.
Most dogs love being by their owner’s side, so anytime that is not the situation, a dog is likely counting down the minutes until their best friend is awake and ready to play once again.
Dogs can also miss their person without suffering from separation anxiety. The key indicator of stress in your absence is if your dog engages in excessive barking, panting, or extra chewing. Many items in the market, like calming pills or thunder shirts, can help your pet’s anxiety without losing morning affection!
10. You Smell Good
Dogs have an incredible sense of smell and move through the world nose-first. Smell is a dog’s primary sense. Indeed, dogs have more than 100 million sensory receptors in their nose while humans have a measly six million.
Simply put, your dog can smell about 10,000 times better than you. A dog’s intuitive and robust sense of smell is why many dogs excel in search and rescue operations.
When it comes to morning affection, your dog smells the familiar smell of their favorite human, and that smell makes your dog happy due to the release of oxytocin.
11. New Relationship
You and your pet have a special bond, so anytime a change occurs in the household, your pet might feel like your special bond is shifting. With the addition of a new baby or a second pet, your dog will need to feel like they remain a key part of the family’s dynamics. Your pet might seek additional attention from you by being extra affectionate.
Even when you are dating someone new, your pet will know and might act more affectionate towards you to keep your focus on them.
When introducing a new pet or a new baby to the family, show other four-legged family members in your house that they are still loved and important. Taking a few minutes in the morning to engage with your pet by adding some cuddles and kisses will make a huge difference in the transition period when new family members arrive.
12. That Time of the Month
If you are the owner of an unspayed female dog, then she might become more affectionate when it is her time of the month.
When your dog is menstruating, she might experience various shifts in mood, similar to those that humans experience. For instance, your dog might be more affectionate in the mornings and seek cuddles throughout the day, or she might be a bit grumpier or need a few extra snacks.
Slight personality changes during that time of the month are normal for your dog to experience. It is important to note that your female dog might tuck its tail right before or during menstruation, which is, in other cases, a sign of anxiety or stress.
If your female dog is approaching you with her tail tucked, seeking some extra attention, then it might be time for their cycle to start.
13. Unwell and Dehydrated
While uncommon, there are times that extra affection could mean that your dog needs a visit to the vet’s office. As with any other changing or odd behavior, if your dog suddenly wants to cuddle and that behavior is out of their personality, they might be sick or dehydrated.
Your dog depends on you, so anytime your pet needs something and does not feel well, your dog will communicate with you by expressing themselves differently. If your dog is having trouble waking up in the morning or appears lethargic, contact your veterinarian for additional steps.
Do not panic if you think your dog is sick, but do take careful note of their symptoms so that you can effectively communicate your concerns to your vet.
Final Thoughts: Morning Cuddles are The BEST!
When your dog decides to lick your face or nestle beside you in the bed, it is the sweetest act and continues to build a unique bond between you and your best friend. Many reasons exist why your dog feels the need to connect with you through cuddling, like a morning greeting, a demonstration of love, or an indication that your dog is ready for breakfast.
Extra affection might mean that your dog does not feel like themselves in some instances. For example, female dogs cuddle more right before menstruation begins, and if your dog is unwell, they will communicate that to you by cuddling close.
Remember, you know your dog’s personality best. Cuddle with your pup as much as you can, and always be aware of sudden personality changes.