Whole Dog Journal's Blog May 9, 2018

A Dog Who Will Nap With Me

Posted at 03:54PM - Comments: (18)

Some dogs just aren't cuddlers...or couch sharers. Can you curl up with your dogs for a snooze?

I count on my senior dog, Otto, for many things. When I need a perfectly behaved dog for any reason, Otto is my guy. He’s an amazing model for the magazine and any other photo I need; he will back up, come forward, sit, stand, down, look at me, and best of all, stay put for as long as I might need while getting the light right or making adjustments to my camera. I can take him into any environment – save one with slippery floors, Otto’s personal Kryptonite – and count on him to be calm and friendly to anyone he meets. He would never dream of jumping up on anyone; it’s just not in his repertoire.

otto from whole dog journal

Perfect poses at the drop of a hat: he's a professional!

He’s also absolutely amazing with other dogs. He is smart and cautious around any dog that looks aggressive; he will avoid them in any way possible. With neutral-looking dogs, he will approach in a neutral fashion. I’ve used him in this capacity as bait to help catch stray dogs; often, a roaming dog that is afraid to come to a human will approach another dog. I can release Otto and indicate that he should go meet the other dog. If they start to greet or make some playful moves, I can then call Otto back, and instruct him to run into my backyard – and several times, the stray has followed him in, so I could close the gate behind both of them and then call animal control.

dog puppy greeting

Otto teaches my foster puppies how to approach politely.

With rambunctious puppies or adolescent dogs, Otto lays down the law. If a little puppy jumps all over him, he will warn them with a stiff body and impressive snarls and throaty, deep growls; if they fail to notice all that, he’s likely to give them a giant WOOF! in their little faces. In this way, he’s taught all my foster puppies in recent years to approach with good manners; if they do, he’ll magnanimously sniff them all over before he disengages. Playing with puppies is beneath him, at this age.

Adolescents don’t get the benefit of his “Start at one and slowly increase the intensity” puppy-management strategy. If a rude or clueless teen dog comes in too fast and crashes into Otto, that pup will get an even louder, “GROOOOOWW UPFERDOGSAKES!” and might even get bowled over. He’s done this to dozens of adolescent pups, and has never left a mark on a single one. His bite inhibition is flawless, and he never goes too far; one such event is usually enough to teach the teen to approach him next time with a little more respect. If they do, then Otto is more than happy to receive them with more dignity next time. He makes a perfect benevolent leader.

otto from whole dog journal

Otto poses for an ad for a bowling event to benefit our local shelter.

Otto loves human contact; he loves being petted or scratched or massaged. He will shed all dignity for a belly rub, and will sway like a hula dancer if you scratch his butt above his tail. You can massage his face and gently pull his ears he will exhale and relax deeply into your hands.

But there is one thing that Otto won’t do for me: He won’t share a couch or bed for sleeping or a nap.

If Otto is on one end of a seven-foot sofa, and I (or anyone) sits on the other far end, he will give that person a sort of dirty look and leave the sofa. If I am sitting on a couch and pat the cushion next to me, and encourage Otto to come on up, he will come and stand close, and wag his tail and blink his eyes … “Nance, I love ya, but I’d really rather not,” he seems to say. He’s usually more than happy to comply with whatever crazy thing I want him to do, but not this. A cuddler on the couch he is not.

I can freely admit: I am a person who takes naps. I am a napper. I naturally wake up early, can accomplish great things all morning long, but at about 2 or 3 in the afternoon, I hit the wall. A little lie-down, for 20 minutes at least but preferably an hour, restores me to full power. It enables me to stay awake past 9 pm! If I have a nap, I can stay up to midnight or even 1 am!

And this is where two-year-old Woody gets to shine. Woody’s super power, as far as I’m concerned, is that he will nap with me anywhere, any time. It doesn’t matter how small the sofa, how short the space, how hot or cold it is, Woody will curl up with me any time and will both adjust his long, lean body to fit, and allow me to drape my legs over him, use him as a pillow, or to drag him into the most comfortable spot for me. He just goes limp and says, whatever!

Woody from whole dog journal

Woody is a very relaxed sleeper.

It’s true that he tends to kick a little in his sleep if he’s dreaming. Woody is prone to bracing his paws against me and stretching (pushing!) when something wakes him up for a minute. For the rest of the nap, he’s my warm puppy, and I just adore it.

Sorry, Otto, but Woody is better at just this one thing.

Do you sleep with your dogs on the bed? Anyone have a dog like Otto who won’t?

Comments (18)

I have a rescue pitbull, got lucy when she was 2, now shes 5...people told
Me I was crazy to get her, she would turn on me...welll Lucy is the most cuddle bunny affectionate loving doggie I have ever had, she thinks shes a 10lb puppy, she always sleeps with me, spoons me, goes under the covers with just her head out...always sits politely when I stop to talk to friends, but has to sit on my feet....just the cutest!!!

Posted by: Lindab | May 13, 2018 9:40 AM    Report this comment

We have four rescued dogs, a female golden retriever, a female German Shepherd mix, a male puggle and a male pug. The golden likes belly
and a few minutes
of petting, but then she's off to sit on a different part of the bed or on the floor. The German shepherd will come and "talk" to me and ask for a bit of petting and maybe a belly rub,but then she's off to her bed or the chair in our living room. But the pug and the puggle...they are true cuddlebugs. I have a severe back condition and when I go for a rest one them will go behind my knees
when I'm on my side. Ziggy the pug sleeps right next to me at night; he snores loudly, but once I'm asleep I don't notice it. Tanner the puggle sleeps on the other pillow or at my feet. I love cuddly dogs!

Posted by: flyingkoalapug | May 11, 2018 1:19 PM    Report this comment

Since retirement I love to lie on my bed in the afternoon and read. This will often lead to a nap. Both my pups, Jonesy and Franki will jump on the bed and hang out as long as I do. Interestingly, Franki will sleep with me at night, but Jonesy chooses to sleep on his bed at the bottom of my bed. Jonesy is also my wonderfully well behaved dog in most scenarios, and Franki is my high-prey-drive nut who does love to cuddle.

Posted by: JonesysMom | May 11, 2018 11:46 AM    Report this comment

My husband's whippet is just like Otto - if anyone sits on a piece of furniture he inhabits, he immediately jumps off and relocates. Our first night in my camper, I made up the double bed in the dining area and he happily jumped up and settled himself. The look on his face when I joined him was priceless! Since there was no other place to rest, he slept with me. I thought that, after several nights sleeping with me, he'd learned that it wasn't all bad. But as soon as he returned home, he resumed his former habits...
His sister, my whippet, will nap with me but not sleep with me (except in the camper). Her mother was a wonderful napper, and would curl up by my chest while her daughter settled herself behind my knees.
My 10 month old windsprite is a marvelous snuggler, and has slept with me every night since she was 10 weeks old (I tried having her in a crate for the first week, but couldn't resist her charms). She's a wonderful sleepmate, and I sleep comfortably with her every night.

Posted by: mcjean | May 11, 2018 8:57 AM    Report this comment

My lovely girl, a chow-mix named Raindrop loves to be around people. She is the most calm, quiet, and sweet dog most have ever met. In the six years she was with us, my daughter and I tried multiple times to get her to sleep in bed, even buying stairs to help her up! She had three beds of her own in different spots, her favorite being our back porch. We have a futon she loved to sleep on, but never with anyone else! Sadly, we lost her early Monday morning. She had not been well for around a week, and her vet had submitted tests to the lab on Saturday. None of us thought she was that sick. She was sleeping right next to my bed before dawn on Monday when I heard her having a seizure. She was not really conscious. Forty five minutes later, after another, stronger seizure she left us for the Rainbow Bridge. Her vet got test results back today, it was what we suspected, canine lymphoma.

Posted by: Rainy's Mom | May 10, 2018 9:35 PM    Report this comment

I'm an independent person who likes an independent dog. Unfortunately, every dog I've ever had is so needy they don't give you space. I can't even go to the bathroom without one of my dogs busting down the door to come in. I have to put the lock on in order for my Pete not to wind up in the shower with me. It's crazy. Don't get me wrong. I love them. I just wish they could be a little more independent.

Posted by: Ana | May 10, 2018 8:09 PM    Report this comment

I have a young 55 lb poodle that sounds just like Woody. Ive let him sleep w me a few times and he loves to do that. But I have to be honest, its tough to get a good nights sleep with a dreaming, kicking, stretching dog. He sometimes flops over on his back and slaps me awake with an errant paw. Nonetheless, I do enjoy the fact that he likes to be near me but hes too exuberant in his sleep to allow him up very often. Hopefully hell do better when hes older.

Posted by: Arnaudsfriend | May 10, 2018 6:54 PM    Report this comment

My Dad had a Ridgeback shepard mix who did not care about cuddles or petting. He would just sit and grin at you. But he did take very good care of us. When hiking without a leash he would run back and do a head count every 5 minutes before forging ahead. My Dad's next dog was an Akita mix that was a lapdog. He would back up to a seated person and plant his whole rear end in your lap and keep his front paws on the floor. Llved both those dogs.

Posted by: Tmalven | May 10, 2018 6:52 PM    Report this comment

My little Havanese Sassy for me is the perfect dog. I loose count how many times a day she makes me laugh out loud. She's smart, affectionate and so adorable. She will sit by me for a few minutes, but only a few minutes. She doesn't sleep with me. She isnt a lap dog or a cudller, but she's my best friend.

Posted by: K9crazee | May 10, 2018 5:57 PM    Report this comment

My JJ is very loving and affectionate and absolutely adores everyone he meets, which is why he is a therapy dog. He doesn't jump and is very polite. He will tolerate hugs only from me but then immediately looks at me for a treat afterward. As for sleeping, when I first brought him home from the shelter he had to be in my bed at my feet, but after a short time he decided he likes his bed better. I have often wondered if my bed is too small, or it gets too hot, or if I just toss and turn too much for his liking. I've also had insecure thoughts that I had damaged our bond in any way when I scolded him several times in a panic as I fished forbidden things out of his mouth, i.e. mushrooms or anything else potentially dangerous. Once in a blue moon I will take a nap on the couch and he may join me on one end. But a snuggler and a spooner he is not. If he gets on the couch with me in the evenings he prefers to be on his end. Glad you posted this so I know it's not just me.

Posted by: Jayni | May 10, 2018 5:27 PM    Report this comment

I had a doberman like Otto, everyone loved her, she had charisma and personality.
But the last year of her life her Otto's like ways changed, she also became more affectionate. Little that we knew she also was developing cancer, one of her tumors was on front of her heart! It was quite big when she started coughing from the discomfort.
May be she needed comforting?
Next time one of my dogs have a lifelong habit change, even something I like, I will investigate what else is changing, in case.

Posted by: JM | May 10, 2018 3:41 PM    Report this comment

I had an "Otto" once & nothing could budge him either. However, my current dogs LOVE sleeping or napping with me. I honestly don't think I could sleep without them!!

Posted by: Wolflvr99 | May 10, 2018 11:29 AM    Report this comment

My foxhound Walker is exactly like Otto with getting off the couch if you sit down, no matter how gently and how far away! I used to take great offense, but after 6 years realize its just who he is. I love him no matter what!

Posted by: bbatcnm | May 10, 2018 11:24 AM    Report this comment

Whoever our Lars' owners were, they taught him well. He doesn't jump up on people (he sits if the greetee is a small child), he doesn't get up on the couch or bed. It's probably a good thing, because he takes up a LOT of space (we know he's an English Lab, and we think there's perhaps Mastiff mixed in). Puppies and little dogs are fine; if they get too rowdy, he'll walk away or put a gigantic paw on their back and give them the "Lars Stare". He's fine with dogs his own size as long as I'm not around (he's very protective).


Like Otto, I could take him anywhere and rely on him to be a perfect gentleman. However, he's not overtly affectionate. His way of showing affection is to put his head on my chest or on my leg. This has taken some getting used to over the past two years, because our previous dog was a couch and bed sharing, lap sitting (all 35 lbs of her), French-kissing Border Collie/English Springer Spaniel/Shetland Sheepdog cross.

Posted by: DreamWeaver | May 10, 2018 11:21 AM    Report this comment

I just bought a "Chair and a Half" to have more room for my 2 dogs to cuddle with me. Both tried to share my "lady-size" recliner, and it was too crowded! I count myself lucky. I do unconsciously reinforce cuddling behavior! One dog lies on her back on the big chair to get belly rubs. If I go to my bed for a nap, I'm joined by both dogs.

Posted by: Mytmutts | May 10, 2018 10:57 AM    Report this comment

My sweet Arlo loves love, but on his own terms. He doesn't like to be grabbed, and he gets hot on top of you so will scooch next to me for a minute on the couch then he's off to the other end. Having said that, if I am sick or have surgery, he wants to be in my lap or next to me touching me. Even as an energetic adolescent, he took up his station and wouldn't leave to go outside unless I made him. He also has his "lap times", usually in the morning and a bit in the afternoon when he just wants to sleep in my lap for a while. Other than that, a quick pet and a snuggle is fine, but he hopes it will be just for a minute and then be play or training.

Posted by: Alice R. | May 10, 2018 10:54 AM    Report this comment

Oh, how I wish we'd had an Otto in our life...then, maybe, my terrier would have learned how to greet politely! She will however cuddle, most of the time, naptime or bedtime.

Posted by: Cami | May 10, 2018 10:45 AM    Report this comment

My Boston, Brody, loves to sleep with me! I start out my night with his head on my shoulder and my arms wrapped around him. At some point, he moves under the covers to the foot of the bed. He loves curling up, and like Woody, when he stretches, AKA bushes, we both have to move! As far as napping, I'm not a napper during the day. However, occasionally something is achy or stiff and I want to lie down on the floor and stretch. This is immediately met with a Boston planted on my chest kissing my face or pushing a toy into the nearest surface of my body.

Posted by: oceandog63 | May 10, 2018 10:19 AM    Report this comment

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