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Why Do Dogs Cover Their Nose When They Sleep?

Does your dog cover her nose when she sleeps? Here are some of the most common reasons for this behaviour.

A dog sleeping with its nose covered is always cute. But why do dogs sleep like this? And is there any reason to worry about this behaviour?

The short answer is that some dogs feel more comfortable with their nose covered. This could be due to extra warmth, a sense of security, blocking out a draught, or just because it’s a comfortable position. 

Let’s take a closer look at why dogs cover their nose when sleeping – and why it’s usually not a reason to be concerned.

4 Potential Reasons Why Dogs Cover Their Nose When Sleeping

1. Comfort and Warmth

A simple explanation for why a dog covers their nose while sleeping is that he finds it a comfortable position to rest!

Perhaps the dog’s leg feels more relaxed when it’s resting across his face. Or maybe burrowing his nose into a blanket provides extra warmth on a cool night.

Additionally, if your dog covers their nose in your blanket or pillow, they may enjoy sleeping close to your scent.

Tip: Dogs have individual preferences when it comes to sleeping positions. Watch which positions your dog tends to use, then try to buy a dog bed that matches these preferences.

2. Sense of Security

Dogs need to feel safe and secure when sleeping. This is why many dogs enjoy sleeping under beds or in cave beds.

While dogs aren’t true den animals, their wild ancestors likely avoided sleeping in the open. Instead, they would seek bushes or undergrowth that provided protection, while allowing the dog to see its surroundings.

It’s possible that covering the nose or face provides a similar sense of security. For example, a dog who wants to feel secure might hide their nose with a paw or tuck it under a blanket, especially if this helps them to relax and sleep.

While this might not make logical sense, especially if the rest of the body is exposed, this often doesn’t seem to matter to the dog!

Tip: Hiding the face is also a sign of anxiety in dogs. Other symptoms of anxiety and stress include panting, pacing, shaking (including front leg shaking), whining, and yawning. However, if the dog is sleeping and relaxed, they are unlikely to be anxious. 

3. Block Wind or Light

A dog who wants to protect their face against wind or light may snuggle her nose into a blanket (or another soft object – including you!) Like humans, many dogs prefer to sleep in the dark. Covering the face with a blanket also helps to preserve body heat, which could be necessary on a cold day.

So, the next time you see your dog cover their nose when sleeping, look at the surrounding environment.

Is sunlight streaming through a window onto your dog’s bed? Or is there a draught coming from under a nearby door? If so, you might be able to help your dog sleep more comfortably with some minor adjustments.

Tip: It’s vital to ensure your dog’s crate isn’t exposed to excessive heat or draughts. While covering the crate can help your dog to relax, it’s also essential to check that this doesn’t make the crate too warm. Your dog can’t move location when the door is shut, so it’s the owner’s responsibility to check the dog is always at a comfortable temperature.

4. They Might Just Have an Itch!

A dog with an itchy nose might try to scratch it with his paw. If he’s already resting, then this might look like he’s covering his nose.

It’s normal for dogs to have an occasional itch. But increased itchiness is often a sign of an underlying health condition.

Should You Be Worried About a Dog Covering Their Face?

A dog covering its nose

In most cases, covering the nose or face is a harmless behaviour that you shouldn’t worry about.

An exception is if your dog seems to be pawing or scratching at his nose more than usual. This could indicate conditions like a skin infection, allergies, or a respiratory infection, so it’s important to visit a vet.

It’s also worth considering whether your dog is covering her face because she’s uncomfortable.

A cold room, draught from a door or window, direct sunlight, or a lack of a secure place to sleep could all make it more likely that your dog covers her face.

Related Article: Why Does My Dog Sleep With His Tongue Out?

Blue paw

Why Covering The Nose or Burying The Head is Not a Sign of Dominance

Some people claim that a dog burying his head in the owner is a sign of dominance, but this isn’t the case.

Dogs aren’t planning to become the “alpha” in the household or leader of the pack – they are just acting according to their current desires and emotions.

Instead, the reason for a dog hiding against their owner is much less sinister: it’s a comfortable and relaxing place to rest!

Dogs often feel most at ease when they are close to their owner. In fact, interaction with a loved one releases “feel good” endorphins in the dog’s body. Sleeping with their owner is also warm and provides a comforting scent, which helps the dog to relax.

Related Article: Why Does My Dog Lay On Me?


Dogs often hide their nose or face when they sleep. This can be for many reasons but is typically related to comfort, security, or warmth.

Covering the nose when sleeping isn’t a concerning behaviour, unless your dog repeatedly tries to scratch his nose. In this case, you should contact your vet for advice.

Do you have any questions about why dogs cover their nose when they sleep? Please let us know in the comments section below. You may also be interested in learning why dogs cross their paws.


Richard Cross

Richard is a journalist who specialises in dog behavior. He's written hundreds of articles and books related to dogs, including for the Continental Kennel Club, Dog Fest (the UK's biggest dog festival) and various veterinary surgeries. When he's not spending time with Jess and Rudy (his beloved Labrador and Golden Retrievers), he enjoys reading, hiking and watching sports.
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