Why Does My Dog Sleep In The Closet

We often hear about dogs sleeping in the closet, but why do they do it? In this blog, you’ll find answers to this question. 

There are a few reasons why your dog likes to sleep in the closet, and you should know which reason triggering your dog to behave in this manner.

Your dog likes to sleep in the closet because he looks at it as his den. It could be your clothing scent in the closet that attracts him, or he likes the smell of the closet. He might have picked up this bad habit, or is trying to hide from you. He is feeling fearful and needs to stay in an enclosed space.

He “Sees” Closet As His Den

There are always certain places, especially the enclosed ones that your dog will feel more comfortable staying in.

Just like dogs in the wild will look for a den that offers them shelter, warmth and protection, your dog will also likely hunt for his “den” in your home.

If you have not prepared a crate for him, he is likely going to look for a quiet, safe, secluded and enclosed spot for him to rest and keep himself from any harm whenever you are not around. 

That could be the reason why he chose to sleep in the closet when you left him alone during his nap.

Also, he might love to sleep in the closet because it offers him a cozy den-like feeling, keeping him warm during the winter and cool during the summer. 

And most important of all, provides him a sense of security as it is an enclosed spot!

To correct this behavior, you would need to crate train your dog to make him “see” the crate as his den (rather than the closet).

Make sure that you get a crate that is spacious enough for him to lie down and stretch out when he needs to.

You can provide him with some bedding like blankets or towels to help him sleep comfortably.

You can also leave your dog’s favorite toy in the crate to make him “grow” his love for the crate.

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Your Clothing Scent In Closet Attracts Him

Your dog might be missing you when you leave him alone during the night and by sleeping in the closet where your clothing is hung, he gets to “smell” your clothing odor and feel that you are just beside him. 

This is a sign of separation anxiety and needs to be addressed.

What you can do is to slowly build up his confidence to be alone by leaving him in a room for 5 minutes and then coming back and rewarding him for being calm and quiet. 

If he is comfortable with it, then gradually extend the duration up to 30 minutes and practice this twice a day for about two weeks.

The goal is to make him think that by remaining calm when he is alone, GOOD things will happen.

He gets your attention and reward for it.

The key is to do it slowly, in steps. He’ll get used to it. 

The other thing is to make sure he’s comfortable and secure when he is being left alone.

If he has a crate to hide in when he needs to be calm, then that should be made his main place to go to when he feels anxious.

Bad Habit Picked Up

Did you ever play hide-and-seek with your dog and hide yourself in the closet?

This makes him think that the closet is an ideal place for him to hide and rest.

While you do it out for fun, you are showing him that this is a good place for him to hide and rest, and he gets so used to the idea that he will stay there when he needs a rest.

I’ve seen dogs that hide in a corner of the closet, and then they’ll sit there until their owner calls them, as if they were in some kind of hiding space.

What you would need to do is to make him associate this particular hiding space with unpleasant happenings, such as showing him your unhappiness.

This will help him to associate the closet with unpleasant feelings.

The more often you repeat the exercise, the faster he will learn to stay away from the closet.

He Is Hiding From You

Your dog could be attempting to hide from you by sleeping in the closet as he feels that it is an enclosed area, and you would not be able to find him.

He is not willing to sleep with you!

He could be hiding from you for various reasons, such as he is feeling unwell (arthritis) and does not want you to touch him, or he is afraid of you (maybe you have yelled or shouted at him and that is why he is hiding).

He may also be feeling uncomfortable with another pet in your home, and so he is hiding from it.

It could also be the case that he is physically abused by someone from your family when you are not around and that makes him fearful of sleeping in the open area alone.

Pay special attention to how he reacts when he sees your family members to see if he is fearful of them.

If he is hiding because of another pet that he is afraid of, you will need to find a way to make him feel comfortable.

You will need to work on his comfort level with it slowly until he feels comfortable enough to sleep in its presence.

New Environment Makes Him Nervous

Did you move to a new house recently?

This can cause great anxiety for your dog as he finds himself now in a totally unfamiliar environment with new scent and sight and has to find his way around in the new surroundings.

He may display fearfulness, trembling, aggression and start hiding in a closet during the night for his sleep.

Such behavior is not uncommon during the first few days of a change of environment as he is trying to adjust to the new place.

It is important to be patient with him and try to get him used to the new place as quickly as possible.

If he is already crate trained, you can have him placed in the crate when you are not with him to ease his anxiety.

He Likes The Scent Of The Closet

At times, there are some behaviors of a dog that we humans cannot truly understand.

For example, dogs like to eat poop, which we certainly find it to be disgusting.

So it would not be a surprise if your dog likes the scent of the closet and this makes him prefer to stay and sleep in the closet.

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He Feels A Sense Of Fear

If you find your dog only sleeping in the closet whenever there is a thunderstorm or fireworks happening, this could be his way of hiding and protecting himself from noise and light.

This is likely to happen if you have not prepared a safe and secure place for your dog to be in whenever he feels nervous or anxious.

I would suggest that you get a crate for him to sleep in so that he can feel protected whenever there are noises, fireworks, and any other thing that may make him feel nervous or afraid.

In addition to this, you can also get him a thunder shirt to wear when it’s stormy or raining so that he can sleep well.

The thunder shirt will help him to calm down and feel at ease.

Noise Sensitivity

Dogs have highly sensitive hearing abilities, and certain sounds that humans may not even notice can be distressing for them.

If your dog has noise sensitivity issues, hiding in closets may serve as a defense mechanism to escape from loud or unpredictable noises, such as thunderstorms, fireworks, or construction noises.

Temperature and Lighting

Extreme temperatures or uncomfortable lighting conditions can also impact your dog’s hiding behavior.

If your dog feels too cold or hot, or if the space they usually occupy becomes too bright or dim, they may seek out a closet as a cooler, darker, or more comfortable alternative.

Ensuring a suitable and comfortable environment for your dog can discourage their inclination to hide.

Restricted Access

Sometimes, dogs hide in closets simply because they find it challenging to access other parts of the house. This can happen if certain areas are off-limits or if the dog is confined to a specific space.

In such cases, closets might become the go-to hideout spot for a quick escape or a quiet nap.

Lack of Privacy

Dogs, just like humans, often need their own personal space for relaxation.

If your dog feels constantly observed or lacks a designated area where they can retreat undisturbed, they may seek out secluded spots, such as a closet, to find the privacy they desire.

Creating a cozy and comfortable space with a dog bed or crate can give your furry friend a safe haven to unwind.

Change in Routine

Dogs thrive on routine, and any sudden disruptions or changes can be disorienting and lead to increased stress levels.

Whether it’s a change in their feeding schedule, walking routine, or even the presence of new family members or pets, these alterations can result in your dog seeking refuge in a closet.

Maintaining a consistent routine and providing ample mental and physical stimulation can help reduce their need for hiding.

How Can I Stop My Dog From Hiding In The Closet?

To help your dog overcome closet hiding behavior, provide a safe and comfortable space in other areas of the house, use positive reinforcement techniques, consult with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist if needed.

Create a Safe and Calming Environment

  • Designate a cozy and secure space for your dog, away from the closet. This could be a crate or a designated area with a bed, toys, and blankets.
  • Use calming aids such as pheromone diffusers or calming music to create a soothing atmosphere.
  • Ensure the environment is quiet and free from any potential triggers that may cause anxiety or fear.

Establish a Consistent Routine

  • Dogs thrive on predictability, so establish a regular schedule for feeding, exercise, and potty breaks.
  • Provide plenty of mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom and reduce anxiety.

Positive Reinforcement

  • Use positive reinforcement techniques to reinforce calm and confident behavior.
  • Reward your dog with treats, praise, and affection when they display calm behavior outside of the closet area.
  • Avoid punishment or scolding, as this can intensify their fear and anxiety.

Consult a Professional

  • If your dog’s behavior persists or worsens, it’s advisable to seek guidance from a professional dog behaviorist or trainer.
  • They can assess your dog’s specific situation and provide tailored strategies to help address the hiding behavior. This is especially so if your dog had gone through some past traumatic experiences.
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