Bentley, my first Cavalier, was an expert at finding comfort in his own sleeping area, but things changed when I adopted Mayo, as he exhibited a strong preference for sleeping on my head.
Driven by curiosity, I delved into some research and found out that there are quite a few reasons explaining why Cavaliers might sleep on your head.
So today, I’ll explore each of these reasons in detail and provide you with some easy-to-follow tips on what I did to discourage this behavior.
Why Do Cavaliers Sleep On Your Head?
The reasons a Cavalier might sleep on your head are many and varied, ranging from seeking comfort and warmth, wanting to bond and show love, to an instinct to protect. It could also be a sign of anxiety during stressful times, a way to get attention or a way to stick to a comforting routine. In young or sick dogs, it might show vulnerability or a response to health problems.
#1 Comfort and Warmth
Dogs seek out warmth, and humans emit heat. Your head, with a high concentration of blood flow, may provide a comforting, warm spot to snuggle against.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, being particularly affectionate to their owners, may be drawn near you not only for physical comfort but as a way to feel close and connected.
#2 Bonding and Affection
Dogs are pack animals. They form strong bonds with their owners, whom they see as their pack. Sleeping near you (or on your head) is a way for them to be close to you, show affection, and feel secure.
One fact about Cavalier King Charles Spaniels is that they were originally bred to be companion dogs, showing an intense desire for human interaction and love. They often seek physical closeness with their human family (like sleeping close to their favorite person), which strengthens their bond.
In the wild, dogs sleep with their pack to ensure everyone’s safety. By sleeping on your head or near you, your Cavalier may be attempting to guard you while you sleep.
Although Cavaliers are not typically known for their guarding instincts like some other breeds, this behavior can be seen as a demonstration of their loyalty and connection to their owner.
#4 Anxiety or Fear
My Mayo always sleeps very close to me (including on my head), during thunderstorms, or when feeling anxious. This is how he seeks reassurance when scared.
Many dogs seek comfort from their owners during stressful situations, especially the more sensitive breeds like King Charles Spaniels.
Check Out: Are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Smart?
#5 Attention-Seeking Behavior
You may find that if your Cavalier realizes sleeping on your head gets attention, it might repeat the behavior. This could be especially true if they receive positive reinforcement, such as petting or kind words.
Dogs, including Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, are creatures of habit and can become attached to certain routines or patterns.
If your pet has experienced the comfort and intimacy of sleeping on your head and enjoys it, this spot might become its preferred resting place.
#7 Still a Young Puppy
Puppies often seek the comfort of sleeping near you, similar to what they did with their mother when they were babies. Studies show that dogs see their owners as parent-like figures, something that can be seen in how they act.
As they grow, being close to their mother gives them safety and love. So, if you have a young puppy, it might start to see you in this way, almost like a human mommy.
#8 Health Issues
If your Cavalier is feeling unwell or experiencing discomfort, you may notice that it seeks comfort by sleeping close to you. A friend’s Cavalier also displayed this behavior when suffering from a digestive issue, finding the owner’s presence reassuring and soothing.
Be vigilant for any other changes in appetite or behavior, as unexpected closeness could be an early sign that something might be wrong.
#9 Establishing Dominance
Some animal behaviorists debate whether a dog resting on or near your head is an attempt to assert dominance. However, in the case of King Charles Cavaliers, the idea of dominance might not be as relevant.
These love sponges are bred to be comforting lap dogs, and they generally display a gentler and more affectionate nature rather than dominance. So from my experience, it appears the reasons are more often related to seeking comfort, bonding, or overcoming fear.
Tips to Stop Your Cavalier from Sleeping on Your Head
If your Cavalier sleeps on your head and it’s starting to bother you, here are some tips that you can try to help change this habit.
- Create a Cozy Sleep Spot: Provide a pleasant, warm space for your dog. Soft blankets, a comfortable bed, or a crate for your Cavalier with a favorite toy can work wonders.
- Guide Your Cavalier to Its Bed: You should be the one directing your Cavalier when it’s time for bed. Prevent your dog from randomly entering your room or jumping into bed. By doing so, your Cavalier will know you’re in charge. Praise or treats can reinforce this behavior.
- Consistency is Key: Be consistent with your behavior. Don’t let your dog sleep in your bed one night and then scold them for doing the same thing the next night.
- Teach the “Go to Your Bed” Command: Train your Cavalier to understand the “No” and “Go to your bed” commands. Give him/her treats only when he/she lies down on the bed. After some time, your dog will understand that the reward comes only when he/she stays in bed.
- Follow a Bedtime Routine: Dogs, like humans, benefit from a regular bedtime routine. This might include a last bathroom trip, a fixed bedtime, and a designated sleep spot.
- Limit Pre-Bed Activity: Make sure your dog has enough physical and mental exercise throughout the day so that it is tired at bedtime. But also make sure to limit activity close to bedtime.
- Avoid Late Night Feeding: Feed your Cavalier a few hours before bedtime to prevent unwanted energy boosts.
- Resist the Sad Eyes and Whines: If your dog gives you those big, pitiful looks or whines during the night, stay strong and ignore it. After a few nights, it will stop complaining.
- Consult Professionals: If these strategies don’t work, consider professional assistance. A dog trainer or behaviorist may offer specialized techniques and advice.