Most mornings you wake up and your dog is practically sitting on top of you, or jumping around the bed trying to get you just as excited for the day as they are. But sometimes, dogs will hide under the bed so that you can’t even find them. Why do they do it? Like so many other canine behaviours, the answer isn’t exactly straightforward.
Typically, it’s a harmless behavior. Dogs will hide under the bed (or another dark, small area) mostly because they find it a comfortable spot to relax and take a nap. As “den animals,” small, contained spaces make dogs feel safe and help them relax easier. Dogs also enjoy the temperature that is created under the bed or the fresh, untouched carpet.
Your dog’s afraid of something
You might notice that when there’s a thunderstorm outside, your dog immediately makes a beeline under the bed. Or maybe when company comes over, your pup scampers away and heads for her under-bed hiding spot. That’s because when your dog is afraid, she goes off to a spot she considers safe. In this case, that safe spot is under your bed.
To curb this behavior, you can use counterconditioning and desensitization techniques to get your pup comfortable with whatever may be scaring her, recommends the Animal Humane Society. For example, if it’s thunder that’s prompting her to hide under the bed, play soft recordings of thunder while giving her treats, and lots of praise when she sits calmly with you. Slowly increase the volume until she doesn’t react to the sound anymore.
If trangers and guests scare your pup, you can change that behavior by having your guests feed yummy treats to her on their next visit. Your dog will soon associate strangers with good things — namely treats — and won’t run off when company comes over.
Your dog feels sick
If your dog suddenly starts hiding under the bed, it could be because he feels ill, according to Vetinfo. When dogs are sick or depressed, they tend to hide because they feel so yucky. This could be the case if you notice other symptoms; for example, your dog is lethargic, a little grouchy, or he’s not eating well. He may be ill if he’s otherwise housebroken, but eliminating in the house or vomiting due to gastrointestinal upset.
For dogs who have recently started hiding under the bed, it’s best to take them to a veterinarian for a checkup. Your vet can run tests to determine if anything is wrong and treat any medical conditions. Once your dog feels better, he probably won’t want to hide under the bed anymore.
Your dog needs a relaxing vacation
Your pup may hang out under the bed because she sees it as a nice, relaxing spot to snooze. Dogs are den animals, and she may view the area under your bed as a big cave where she can snuggle up. In this case, it’s best to leave her alone when she hangs out under the bed.
You could also provide your dog with an alternative to her under-the-bed lair by giving her a crate, recommends the Humane Society of the United States. Crates simulate a den, and you can place them anywhere you want. They are great if you want to keep your pup out of your bedroom, especially if your dog’s loud snoring is keeping you from getting a good night’s sleep.
Your dog is stressed out
When your dog is under stress, he may head under the bed to deal with his anxiety. Perhaps a new pet is bothering him, or he’s recently had a traumatic experience. Your dog could be anxious because of a recent move to a new house, or there’s been a new addition to your family. The loss of a family member, whether two-or-four legged, can also cause anxiety in your dog.
You may need to give your dog some time to adjust to whatever is bothering him. Consult with your veterinarian if your pup is hiding under the bed all the time. Your vet can prescribe medication to treat your dog’s anxiety.
Your dog is hiding treasures
Your pup may hide under the bed because that’s where she stashes her most prized possessions, including favorite toys and possibly your slippers. Just as a dog might bury a bone outside to chomp on later, she might also stash a bone under your bed. Some pups hoard their stuff in spots they consider safe, according to Cesar’s Way. And your pup may just have chosen under the bed as that safe spot.
Should I Try To Correct My Behavior?
Unless there is a reason for disallowing under the bed campouts, such as digging, chewing, or becoming territorially aggressive, then why can’t Fido have his ‘spot’? If you must correct the behavior, an appropriate situation should be arranged and offered.
Provide him with an alternative area that gives him the same result, whether that be for safety, comfort, or whatever the purpose may be. Mimicking the conditions under the bed will greatly increase your chances of Fido agreeing to the switch. For example, if you get him a large kennel, place carpeting inside if that is what is under his favorite bed.
Just as no two humans are exactly alike, neither are any two dogs. Sure, they might be of the same breed, or even from the same litter, but their personalities are individual and will be shaped by their life experiences. In order to successfully curb any canine behavior, you have to get to the foundation of the problem. You can’t diagnose or treat a patient blindly, and you can’t train your dog that way either.
If he is doing this because of a past traumatic event, for instance, then it is going to take more finesse than if he simply likes sleeping under the bed. In the end, the likely success of breaking the habit is going to rely majorly on the situation and circumstance. Good luck, you’re probably going to need it!