Why Your Dog Sleeps and Cuddles With You & NOT Your Husband..

Last Updated: March 21, 2023

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Raising a dog is a lot like raising a kid! Sure, children have more complex needs, but dogs require love and attention all the same. As the saying goes, "It takes a village!" You and your husband can do a lot to shower your canine companion with love. As a couple, you can train it, provide shelter, and throw all kinds of adoration in its direction.

So that begs the question:

Why does your dog show preferential treatment to you? Why does it like to cuddle with you and not your husband?

dog cuddles with its female owner but not her husband

10 Potential Reasons Why Your Dog Prefers Sleeping with Only You

Believe it or not, this situation is pretty common among couples! Dogs don't have the discerning personality to "play fair" or avoid choosing favorites. They can't help but wear their heart on their sleeves sometimes!

There are many reasons why your dog is showing this bias. Here are some of the most common.

#1. Familiarity

Sometimes, the issue is just a matter of familiarity. Dogs generally gravitate towards those who spend time with them the most.

That's not to say that they don't value other family members. In fact, your dog probably has strong positive associations with your husband based on the things he does.

But if you're at home all day while your husband is away at work, a natural preference will form. You're the one your dog sees all day long. So, the bond is a bit stronger despite all the things your husband does.

They know that you'll be around to give affection, attention, and fun.

#2. Primary Caregiver

This reason is somewhat connected to the previous one. If you take care of your dog more than your husband, it's not hard to see why you're a more important figure to them.

In your pup's eyes, you're the one that provides food, snacks, and tons of love. You're there to support your dog's needs, take them on walks, and more.

Meanwhile, your husband is only there on some occasions. He might take your pooch for a walk here and there, but he's not the one your dog will go to when it gets hungry.

#3. Getting Used to a Stranger

Did you marry your husband after getting your dog? If so, the issue could be a lack of bonding and general unfamiliarity.

It takes a while for dogs to accept someone new in their life truly. This is especially true if the person they care for most is still in the picture.

Your husband might as well be a guest in the eyes of your dog. He's someone that your canine companion doesn't mind having in the home.

Heck, your furball could enjoy his company! But at the end of the day, your husband is still a stranger.

Dogs need time and some direct bonding to feel completely open with another human.

#4. Matching Sleep Schedules

Have you ever thought about how intrinsically linked you and your dog's sleep schedules are? If you're a primary caregiver, your dog likely follows your cue about sleep.

Think about it:

You take your dog out the first thing in the morning when you wake up. Then, you let them out at night before you go to bed! It's like you have subconsciously trained your dog to have the same sleep pattern as you.

If your husband doesn't follow that same schedule, your dog will not want to mix things up. They already have a routine, so going to bed earlier or later with your husband is out of the question.

#5. The Urge to Protect

Cuddling might seem like a sweet gesture, and in most cases, it is! However, the act of cuddling and sleeping together is also a form of protection.

You see, wild dogs sleep in packs with their backs touching. While your dog is heavily pampered and evolved from its ancestors, that intrinsic need to protect still exists.

If your dog prefers to cuddle with you and not your husband, it could be because they think you need protection.

If you're smaller than your husband, your dog likely thinks you're more vulnerable to danger. So, they stick by your side just in case something happens.

Related: 10 Small to Medium Breeds That Protect Home & Family

#6. Complementary Cuddle Positions

Is your husband a restless sleeper? That could be the problem right there!

Dogs don't want to deal with constantly shifting positions any more than you do. They prefer to cuddle with someone who stays still and calm.

Tossing and turning often results in discomfort for your dog.

Your husband could accidentally roll on them or squick their tail. So, they move onto your side for some safety and stillness.

#7. A History of Aggression

Here's one of the more unfortunate reasons why your dog won't sleep with your husband. While dogs can communicate by conventional means, they certainly pick up aggressive behaviors and hostility.

If your husband showed signs of aggression towards your dog at any point, they will remember it. It doesn't have to be hitting. Any form of negative reinforcement will create some hostility between your husband and your dog. 

That includes yelling, frequent scolding, and general negative language.

Believe it or not, dogs can also recognize when humans show hostility towards each other. For example, your husband could have raised his voice with you during a recent argument.

Those are all memories your dog won't forget.

Your dog doesn't want to spend a ton of one-on-one time with people they fear. So, they go to the one person that makes them feel at ease: You.

#8. Positive Associations

Do you have a unique way of playing with your dog that your husband doesn't do? Maybe you're more inclined to spoil them in pats and rub-downs versus your hubby.

Or, you might have long nails that hit the sweet spot behind your dog's ears that your husband can't recreate.

Whatever the case may be, your dog associated those positive interactions with you. So, they want to get as much of your attention as possible!

It's natural for one pet parent to be a little more strict than the other. That's not necessarily a bad thing or something that could harm your canine relationship. However, dogs are going to gravitate towards the "cool" parent. They know they can have fun with fewer restrictions.

#9. Emotional Intelligence

In many cases, dogs can tell who is more excited to see them. Canines have high levels of emotional intelligence. They can read non-verbal cues to understand precisely how you feel about them.

If you're like most adoring dog owners, you probably express a lot of enthusiasm when you see your pooch. Who can blame you? Your dog can tell whenever your heart melts and when you're exuding love.

Your husband may react a little differently to your dog. He might have reservations about your dog or not have as strong of a connection as you do.

Naturally, your dog will pay more attention to the person who gives off a ton of positive emotional cues.

#10. A Matter of Smells

Last but not least, let's talk about smells!

Dog use their nose for just about anything. They don't have the most discerning sense of smell out there, as they will readily sniff around a pile of garbage or a mound of poop. However, they still have their preferences.

Sometimes, the issue with a lack of cuddling stems from discomfort with your husband's natural smell.

If your partner smokes or drinks, they might carry around a pungent aroma that your dog doesn't like. Alternatively, it could be the body wash or shampoo your husband uses!

What You Can Do to Even the Playing Field

Don't let your dog's cuddling preferences get in the way of you and your husband's relationship. While your pup's behavior can be a significant source of jealousy, the affection doesn't have to be so one-sided!

There are many ways to encourage your dog to cuddle with your husband. All it takes is a bit of behavioral modification and some easy changes.

Creating More Bonding Opportunities

If your husband is green with envy from your dog's preferences, let him know that it's time to put in the work! Set up some husband-dog playtime. Give your husband the chance to build that all-important bond.

It might be awkward at first, but letting your husband take the reigns can make all the difference.

Take a step back and stay at home to ensure that your dog pays complete attention to your hubby.

Make sure he has some treats in tow, and it shouldn't take long for your dog to start showing more affection to your husband.

Entice Your Dog with Treats

Treats work for everything! Use them to entice your dog to come in for cuddles.

Start simple and have your husband pat the bed or sofa. Make him use a command like "come" to call your dog over. Then, make gestures to get him to sit down.

As your dog gets closer with every attempt, reward them! Treats show that there's nothing your dog has to fear.

Your husband indicates that he's open to receiving some affection, which signals the dog to be a little more receptive. It can take some time to get to a full-on cuddle, but be vigilant!

Divvy Up Care Duties More Strategically

In addition to letting your husband spend more time with your dog, try to separate care duties more evenly. Give your partner more opportunities to feed your dog.

Canines tend to show a preference towards those who provide food and treats. Let your husband in on the action, and your pup should start paying more attention to him.

Change Your Husband's Scent

If you think that scent is to blame, switch things up and try something new. Ditch the strong fragrances and switch to something lighter.

Your husband can also try spraying lavender or chamomile on the side of the bed. Those scents are calming to dogs, so it may help encourage them to venture towards your husband.


Dogs might seem simple, but they have complex emotions just like humans. If your dog likes to sleep and cuddle with you and not your husband, dig deep to find out the root cause.

Understanding why your dog has its preferences can help you address any issues and spread the love.

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About the author 


Steve is a writer with over 10 years of experience in dog training and nutritiion.

His goal is to educate dog owners about the ins and outs of canine behavior as well as keeping up with the latest scientific research in the field.