Dogs forever surprise us with the things they do—sometimes so much so that you need an interpreter. For instance, when your dog lays its head across your neck, what does that mean? And why do they do it?
There are many possible reasons, but the most likely is your dog wants to show you how much it cares for you. Other reasons your dog may do this include seeking warmth, offering or receiving protection, and dealing with stress/illness.
Want to learn more about this curious dog behavior? Keep reading for a closer look.
Why Does My Dog Lay His Head Over My Neck? 7 Reasons
Here are seven reasons your dog might be putting their head on your neck:
The first reason your dog wants to be close to you is to show affection.
Dogs are social creatures. They feel good when they’re close to people they love, yet they can’t use words to express their love. Instead, they revert to what they did as puppies, piling on top of their siblings. In this manner, your pup is showing you that same affection. Take this behavior as a sign that your dog loves you deeply.
If your dog feels scared and seeks safety, it will most likely want to be close to you. Your presence signifies that all is well, and they will seek you out. Some dogs are content to sit next to you, but others take things a step further and lie on your neck. There’s no better way for them to feel safe.
Think about what your pup is experiencing when it lays on your neck. Your heartbeat, movements, and breath are all very apparent. When they’re close to you in this way, it reassures your dog that you are okay. You are your pup’s whole world, so a little reassurance that everything is good is very comforting to them!
If you can’t live without a scarf in winter, you’ve probably already realized how critical your neck is for temperature regulation. Plenty of heat comes from your neck as blood flows close to the surface. Your dog is likely attracted to that heat, especially if they’re small. Snuggling against your neck provides them a lot of extra warmth.
A dog that lays on your neck may be dealing with stress or illness. If your dog’s behavior is out of character, it may feel out of sorts. If your joyful pup seems less lively, keep a close eye on them.
Some older dogs even exhibit this behavior when they’re near death.
Another sweet reason your dog might lay on your neck is to protect you while you’re sleeping.
Although you’re unlikely to be in danger while sleeping in your bed, canines are bodyguards at heart. Remember that a dog’s neck is a very vulnerable area. Pack members lay on an alpha’s neck at night to keep it safe while sleeping. Your dog may feel the need to protect you in this way.
Finally, your dog might put her head on your neck because you’ve encouraged it to do so! Even if you aren’t actively trying to promote this behavior, you may have done so inadvertently. For example, if laying on your neck leads to stroking or cuddling, your pup likely wants to continue this behavior.
Is It Okay to Let My Dog Sleep on My Neck?
By now, you might be wondering if having your pup lay on your neck is okay. The answer is yes—as long as it doesn’t bother you.
However, some issues may arise.
Necks are sensitive areas, and your dog may injure you if they put too much pressure on your neck. This risk is most significant with large dogs, but small dogs can cause damage, too. If your pup is too feisty or too big, it’s probably best to discourage them from laying on your neck. (We’ll talk about how in the next section).
Guard Dog Behavior
We mentioned above that a dog might lay on your neck to protect you, but sometimes they do so too vigorously. It may start acting territorially by snarling or growling at people approaching you. Some dogs even try to protect you from your hands or movements!
If your dog has become too territorial, you must address this behavior.
How to Stop Your Dog from Laying Their Head on Your Neck
Although it’s okay for your dog to do so in most cases, you may not want them to lay their head on your neck. Remember to be patient and consistent if you want to stop your dog from doing this. It could take a while to correct.
The best thing to do is remove their head from your neck with a firm “no.” If your pup is insistent, you might need to reposition or remove them from the furniture altogether. Do these steps whenever your dog tries to put their head on you.
Another critical thing to remember while correcting this behavior is to be gentle. Your dog is just trying to show affection, so don’t yell or scold it. It won’t understand why you’re yelling, and you may end up straining your relationship.
Finally, if you have to keep your dog off the furniture, finding another cozy spot for your pup may help. Give them their dog bed or pillow to help them feel secure.
Dogs communicate with us in many ways. When they put their head on your neck, there are many possible things they’re trying to tell us. Most likely, they just came to say they love you. If you don’t mind this behavior, indulge in those snuggles.
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