Why do dogs hide under the bed?

Why do dogs hide under the bed? Jack Russell hiding under bed
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Why do dogs hide under the bed? If you’ve been pondering that exact question then you’re in luck because we have the answer to this rather peculiar behavior.

You may have noticed that your pooch has a penchant for hiding in small spaces, particularly under the bed or in other similar spots around the house, such as under the table or under the sofa. And it turns out there are several reasons your hound may be hiding.

Most of the time it’s perfectly natural, normal behavior and not something to be overly concerned about - especially if your dog always does it at certain times or for certain reasons that fall within a pattern of usual behavior. 

But there are occasions when your dog hiding under the bed may be a cause for concern, so below you’ll find the most common reasons they do it and what you can do to get them to stop. 

Why do dogs hide under the bed?

There are lots of reasons why your dog might be hiding in an enclosed space, which includes (but is not necessarily limited to) the following: 

For comfort 

Lots of dogs like to have something which they consider a safe space, which is why many dogs love to have a crate or covered bed to relax in. If they don’t have something like that in your house, they might find a space such as under the bed to be a good substitute. It’s also likely that it smells like you, and is quiet and dark - the perfect place to relax. 

They’re scared

When dogs are anxious they’ll try to find the safest place to hide. Maybe there’s a loud noise, lots of people in the house at once (such as during a party), or another dog has entered the property. Retreating under the bed is a perfectly natural response.

They’re guarding something 

Dogs are territorial creatures and if they’ve got their paws on something they want to keep all to themselves, taking it into a small and secluded space makes a lot of sense to them. It could be something like food or a treat - especially one they know they’re not supposed to have, or it could be a favorite toy. If there’s some kind of “threat” to whatever they want to guard, don’t be surprised to see them run to their favorite hiding spot. 

They’re ill 

When dogs are either injured or ill, they’ll want to feel safe and secure. This is why you should always keep a close eye on your dog’s behavior or patterns when it comes to hiding - if it’s particularly unusual for them it can be a good indicator that something isn’t right. 

Do dogs hide when they are sick?

Why do dogs hide under the bed? Dog hiding under bed

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If your dog is the type to hide in small spaces quite often, you shouldn’t panic if they have taken themselves off for a rest under the bed (or sofa or table). 

However, it’s wise to keep a close eye on them and check up on them every once in a while. If they can’t be tempted out easily (such as with a treat, toy or enthusiastic words), that could also be a sign that everything isn’t as it should be. 

If you have a suspicion that your dog is hiding because they are sick, it’s important to try and coax them out as gently as you can so you can check for any signs of injury or illness. Try not to cause extra distress by raising your voice or grabbing at them to get them out. You might find you have no choice but to move them physically, but try and do it as softly as possible. 

Always contact your vet if you spot any signs of injury, and keep a close eye on them even if there’s nothing obvious. If it’s very unusual for your dog to hide, it’s worth taking them in for a check-up. If it’s more common for them to hide, you should still monitor the situation and look out for any other signs of behavioral changes, such as loss of appetite or different sleeping patterns.

If you’re still not sure whether or not your dog is sick, look out for the top ten signs you need to take your dog to the vet.

How to keep your dog from going under the bed

Although it’s not necessarily a problem for your dog to hide under the bed, if you find it less than desirable there are some simple methods you can use to prevent it from happening. 

The best way is to ensure your dog has their own safe space which they can use whenever they need to. A crate is a fantastic place to create a den-like atmosphere, particularly if you make it nice and cozy inside with a comfortable bed, and drape blankets or sheets on the outside to block out the light and make it feel enclosed. And if you’re looking for a new bed to go inside their crate, be sure to check out our guide to the best dog beds you can buy right now.

Place the crate in an easy to get to location, away from drafts and out of the way of busy areas in your house. Leave the door of the crate open so your dog can come and go as they desire. It’s also useful to get dogs used to a safe space like this if you need to crate your dog for an extended period, such as if they are ill, or you need to keep them away from something else in your house, for example overnight or if you’re popping out for a short while. 

For those with puppies or dogs who have just started to show hiding behavior, the simplest thing you can try first is to ignore the behavior and instead reward them (with treats or enthusiastic praise) when they are resting where you want them to - such as in their own bed or near you. 

If your dog is anxious about something, which is causing the hiding, it’s best to treat the root of the problem and work with them to reassure them against problems such as loud noises or another animal being in the house. Never be tempted to shout at them for going to hide somewhere as this will likely just make the problem worse.

Amy Davies

Amy Davies is a freelance writer and photographer with over 15 years experience. She has a degree in journalism from Cardiff University and has written about a huge variety of topics over the years. These days she mostly specialises in technology and pets, writing across a number of different titles including TechRadar, Stuff, Expert Reviews, T3, Digital Camera World, and of course PetsRadar. She lives in Cardiff with her dog, Lola, a rescue miniature dachshund.