Has your dog suddenly started to hide in your closet? Did you stumble upon them accidentally just as you were sorting some laundry out?
There are plenty of strange places for our dogs to hide under bits of furniture
These include: beds, tables, sofas and the stairs!
Like so many other things, there are good and bad reasons for your dog to suddenly start sleeping in your closet.
It could be a harmless new behaviour or it could be a behaviour that you need to watch a bit more closely.
In this article, I look at 7 reasons why your dog might be doing this.
 Dogs like confined spaces
Many dogs like confined spaces when they are not forced into them.
One of my golden retrievers used to love sleeping on the corner step on our staircase and if she could have her own way she would spend most of the day sleeping in the boot (trunk) of our car- don’t panic it is a station wagon!
This need to be in fairly tight spaces is thought to be buried deep within a dog’s DNA to when dogs were wild and would frequently have been born in burrows or small caves.
And I think that choice is an important thing to bear in mind.
And a good example here is dog crates. Many dogs love their crates but many other dogs hate them.
Crates are these secluded places, a space that a dog doesn’t have to share, with walls all the way around it that they can go to get away from it all.
On the flip side, the Internet is littered with questions from desperate dog owners who have crate hating dogs.
 Dogs like quiet places
As well as confined spaces, many dogs love quiet places to relax and sleep.
My youngest dog would normally want to be by my side at all times, even when she is asleep.
However, if she is has had a physically exhausting day (such as a very long walk) or a stressful day (such as when we are visited by my step daughter’s French Bulldog, who doesn’t leave her alone) then she will slope off and find a quiet spot regardless of whether it is by my side or not.
 Disturbed or upset by a fundamental change
Dogs that are upset will sometimes seek comfort in a confined space.
There is quite a lot of debate about whether dogs suffer from depression.
For me, the jury is out.
I don’t think that dogs suffer from depression but I know that they are incredibly sensitive creatures and will react to any moods displayed by their owners.
The top events that can upset a dog are:
- House move
- Human bereavement
- Animal bereavement
- New baby
- New partner
- New job
These are all significant life events which can cause a lot of stress and uncertainty in our lives and dogs are highly sensitive to our moods.
In April we lost our gorgeous 10 year old Golden Retriever, Mia, who died very suddenly of a condition similar to leukemia.
We have another two dogs but I don’t think that they started acting strangely after we had the dog “put down”.
There was no sign of depression in either of them.
What was interesting was that in the last month of Mia’s life, our youngest dog was acting in a highly anxious manner- never settling, always following me around the house.
Did she know that Mia was deteriorating and sick before we did?
 Scared by a one off event
Earlier I spoke about how a dog might seek a quiet place like a closet after a particularly tiring day.
Well, a dog might also seek refuge from single events that make them very scared.
Your dog might hide under your bed when it feels that a thunderstorm is approaching or at the first sound of a firework being launched.
In fact, the events and situations that most scare dogs is well known:
- Astraphobia: fear of thunder
- Separation anxiety
- Car journeys
 Physical injury or pain
I think that it is important if we see any changes in our dog’s behaviour- particularly if the behaviour leads to a dog becoming “quieter”- that we first check for any physical signs of injury.
Give your dog a physical examination. Run your hands along their body to check for any lumps or abrasions. Check their mouths, ears and paws for any physical sign of an injury.
And watch them moving. Are they limping? Or moving stiffly?
If you find any lumps, abrasions or if your dog is limping you need to keep a very careful eye on your dog for a few days to make sure that they recover.
If there is no real sign of progress after a couple of days, you need to phone a vet.
 Smells of you
The sixth reason that a dog might be hiding in your closet is because it smells of you.
After all it has all your clothes in it.
This sort of behaviour could be connected to separation anxiety which is thought to affect between 20- 40% of all dogs that are seen by veterinary behavioral specialists.
Hiding is one behaviour that is associated with anxiety.
 Bitch just about to give birth
My final reason on why your dog might be hiding in your closet will hopefully not come as a total shock.
And it is that your dog is pregnant!
Not only are they pregnant but they are very close to giving birth!
A bitch is pregnant for about 63 days and in the final few days, many bitches start “nesting”- looking for a safe and quiet place to have their pups.
Our dogs have had three litters of puppies and I built each one of them a whelping box, which they were happy to go in to give birth to.
Your bitch might be different and turn her nose up at a whelping box.
After all there is not much difference.
A whelping box should be in an out of the way location and full of soft blankets.
That doesn’t sound too different to a closet does it?!
Dogs are sensitive things, aren’t they?
Just when you think that there is nothing else to surprise you, they throw you a curveball and start sleeping in your closet!
Hopefully one or two of my seven possible explanations will start to join a few dots for you and get to the bottom of this latest activity.
Remember, if the behaviour continues for more than a few days or your dog is showing symptoms of being ill, please set up an appointment to see your vet ASAP.