Why Does My Dog Lay His Head Over My Neck? [Heartwarming or?]

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

Have you ever experienced the puzzling and adorable phenomenon of your furry friend casually draping their cute little noggin over your neck?

I mean, seriously, it’s like they’re auditioning for the role of a furry scarf!

But why does my dog lay his head over my neck, you wonder.

In this blog post, I’ll dive right in and help you figure out if this is something normal or if should you correct this behavior.

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Why Does My Dog Lay Its Head Over My Neck?

Why Does My Dog Lay Its Head Over My Neck

When your dog acts extra cuddly and tries to lay its head over your neck, it’s like they’re trying to tell you something.

But what is their message? 

Are they not feeling well? Do they feel lonely?

Knowing the possible meanings of this endearing act can help you decipher what your pet wants to convey.

Here are the most common reasons.

1. Feeling comfort

One of the main reasons why your dog lays their head over your neck is the sheer comfort and security they find in your presence.

It’s like how we seek the hug of a loved one when we want to feel better.  

2. Wants to cuddle

Dogs are inherently social creatures.

Cuddling is one of their ways to strengthen the bond with their human family members (and in some strange cases, they might even cuddle your shoes!).

Putting their head over your neck could be an effective way for them to ask for extra cuddle time.

3. Show affection and bonding

We all know that we, fur parents, could be the most important people in our dogs’ lives.

And they show that by trying to physically be as close to us as possible. 

They want you to feel this affection and closeness, hence the doggy embrace.

4. Playtime

For some dogs, laying their head over your neck might also be a playful behavior, especially during moments of excitement and high energy. 

It’s one way for them to engage with you and show their enthusiasm. The act may even entice you to play with them some more.

5. Sensing your emotions

Dogs are incredibly perceptive creatures, and they can typically sense your emotions.

When you’re feeling sad or stressed, your furry pal may feel it too, with some ladies even asking if their male dogs are affected by their period.

That’s how sensitive they can be!

They’d want to show their support and cuddling could be their way of doing that. 

6. Part of routine

Dogs love their routines and thrive on affectionate interactions.

If you regularly spend time cuddling and petting your furry pal, they will come to anticipate and enjoy these moments. 

So, when it’s cuddle time, they’ll gladly lay their head on your neck.

7. Offering protection

In the wild, dogs sleep in packs, seeking warmth and protection from one another. 

Now, you’re a packmate to your furry pal and they might seek closeness with you to express their willingness to keep you safe.

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8. Sign of submission

In some cases, laying their head over your neck can be a sign of submissiveness. 

This could mean that your pet recognizes you as the pack leader or at least someone higher in the hierarchy. Showing their vulnerable side is how they could be acknowledging that.

9. Separation anxiety

Separation anxiety can be distressing for both dogs and their fur parents. When left alone, dogs with this condition may feel overwhelmed. 

Laying their heads on your neck upon your return is their way of seeking comfort and connection, as they desperately try to ease the stress caused by your absence. 

10. Cold

Another possible reason why your pet is cuddling next to you is because they’re feeling cold.

With no way to tell you to raise the thermostat, your pet has no choice but to share your warmth.

11. Hungry

Hunger is also a possible reason why your furry pal is hanging around close to you.

Since you are the provider of food, they may stay by your side to get quick access to the yummy treat you might dole out.

12. Stressed

Anxiety or stress can make your pet extra clingy.

When they’re feeling like something’s wrong, they would try to get attention and reassurance from the one they rely on the most. 

And if they view you as their source of comfort or the problem solver, then they’d try to stick to you like glue. 

13. Feeling sick

When your pet is feeling weak, they’d want to stay close to the one whose presence soothes them.

Most of the time, it’s the fur parents that provide this sense of comfort.

Plus, they probably realize that you’re the one who calls the vet.

If they lay their head over your neck, they might be able to communicate that they’re not feeling well and hopefully, you’d get them the help that they need. 

14. Insecure

Dogs can be sensitive creatures, and when they find themselves in unfamiliar or uncertain situations, they often seek reassurance from their trusted fur parent – that’s you! 

When your dog lays its head on you, it could be a way of physically connecting and asking for emotional support. 

15. Dominance and asserting control

In rare cases, if not properly trained and socialized, some dogs may exhibit dominant behavior by placing their head over your neck as a way to assert control or dominance.

Are Certain Dog Breeds More Likely to Exhibit This Behavior?

Certainly!

While the gesture of laying their head on you can be seen across various dog breeds, some are more likely to exhibit this affectionate behavior. 

I bet you’ve heard about how Chihuahuas can be very clingy, or that Labradors and Golden Retrievers are breeds that are well-known for being ultra-friendly.

These fluff balls tend to seek physical closeness to bond with their human pack. 

With their affectionate and social personalities, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels thrive on physical closeness and seek comfort through cuddles. 

Great Danes may be gentle giants but they’re not above resting their heads on you to show trust and seek reassurance. 

Shih Tzus, Boxers, Pit Bulls, and Basset Hounds also express their affection through cuddling and may stick to you as a sign of love and devotion.

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Should You Allow Your Dog to Lay His Head Over Your Neck?

Should You Allow Your Dog to Lay His Head Over Your Neck

While the act of your dog laying its head over your neck is generally an affectionate and endearing gesture, it’s essential to consider a few factors before encouraging or allowing this behavior.

Accidental suffocation

Cuddling with a very small dog and allowing them to lay their head on your neck can be risky, as their delicate size makes them more vulnerable to accidental suffocation. 

If you move too quickly during sleep or adjust your position without being mindful of your pet’s presence, you might unintentionally hurt them. 

Neck injuries

If your dog is particularly large or heavy, laying its head on your neck could potentially cause neck strain or injury to you.

Be cautious about supporting their weight, especially if you have any neck issues.

Aggressive behavior or dominance issues

Sometimes, allowing your dog to assert dominance by placing their head over your neck could lead to other dominant or aggressive behaviors that may eventually become problematic.

How would you know?

Common signs of dog dominance behavior include stubbornness, pushiness, demand for attention, refusal to listen to commands, growling, and displaying behaviors like sitting in elevated positions or pushing toys into you to initiate play.

Reinforcement of clingy or separation anxiety behaviors

While providing comfort is essential, allowing your dog to constantly lay their head over your neck might reinforce clingy behaviors or separation anxiety.

Disturbance of your personal activities or sleep

A cuddly pup is adorable, but there is always a time and place for this behavior. 

If your pet’s clinginess is interfering with your daily activities or is keeping you up at night, you have to set boundaries to maintain a healthy balance.

Risk of zoonotic diseases

The risk of zoonotic diseases is quite low.

But being in close contact with your pet can raise the chances of disease transmission.  

It’s essential to maintain good hygiene practices to reduce any potential risks associated with close interactions. 

How to Stop My Dog From Laying on My Neck?

If you wish to discourage your dog from laying their head over your neck or if the behavior becomes problematic, here are some positive reinforcement techniques and strategies to consider:

Use positive reinforcement

Reward your dog when they exhibit other calm and appropriate behaviors, reinforcing those actions with praise and treats.

Train him to obey the “off” command

Teach your dog the “off” command. This would encourage them to move away when they try to lay their head over your neck.

Create a special, comfortable spot for him

Designate a cozy space for your dog near where you are. This special place should be somewhere they can feel safe and secure without necessarily needing to lay on your neck.

Maybe put a soft bed and lay some of your furry pal’s favorite toys there. When your pet feels the need for comfort, you can guide them to go to that place.

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Distract him with toys or tasks

Divert your pet’s attention with engaging toys or activities whenever they need to be extra close to you. Keeping them occupied and entertained may curb that cuddling behavior. 

Provide him with plenty of exercises and mental stimulation

Why does my dog bury his head in my neck?A well-exercised and mentally stimulated dog is less likely to engage in clingy behaviors. That’s why it’s important to give your furry pal plenty of playtime and mental enrichment opportunities.

Bring out the puzzles and balls whenever your pet asks for too much attention. A good game will also help them burn up the excess energy.

Consult with a professional dog trainer

If you’ve tried all of the tricks I mentioned above and the clingy behavior persists or becomes problematic, consider seeking advice from a professional dog trainer.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why does my dog bury his head in my neck?

When your dog buries their head in your neck, it’s often a loving gesture to seek closeness and comfort. It’s because they trust and feel safe with you. Doing this act could be them trying to show their affection and improve their bond with you. 

Why does my dog lick my neck?

When your dog licks your neck, it’s often a way of showing affection, greeting you, seeking attention, or simply exploring interesting scents. If you have a little food, lotion, or salty sweat on your skin, they might lick it too, driven by their keen sense of smell.

Is it okay to let my dog sleep on my neck at night?

Letting your dog sleep on your neck at night is generally okay if you are both fine with it. Just be mindful of any health concerns. Additionally, if you tend to move around during sleep or if your pet’s movements disrupt your rest, maybe reconsider this sleeping arrangement. 

Why does my dog rub himself on my neck?

When your dog marks you with his scent, he is leaving behind his unique smell as a way of claiming you as part of his territory or pack. It’s how they can let other dogs know you are someone he cares about and wants to protect.

In Conclusion: Why Does My Dog Lay His Head Over My Neck?

I personally find this act to be extremely endearing, but just as I pointed out in the article, you need to be mindful too.

Be aware of signs of undesirable behavior and always consider the health aspects of both yourself and your dog too!

You’ve made it to the end, but I hope it’s not the end of our journey. We want to hear your voice! Share your thoughts, problems, suggestions, or anything related to your dog in the comments section. And don’t forget to join our newsletter today too.

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Daily Dog Drama!

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