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Do Dogs Like Pillows? Facts & FAQ

Chantelle Fowler

By Chantelle Fowler

Small brown fluffy dog maltipoo lies between two pillows on the sofa

Humans love sleeping with pillows as they’re not only comfortable but supportive for our necks and spines, too. Studies also suggest that the pillows we have can affect our sleep quality.1 Since pillows play such a big part in our human lives, you might be wondering if the same translates into our dogs’ lives.

While it’s unlikely that your dog would use a pillow to improve their spine health, some dogs do enjoy sleeping on pillows.

We’ve collected some interesting information about dogs and their relationships with pillows, so keep reading to learn more.

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Do Dogs Need Pillows?

While it might be a nuisance to you to share your pillow with your pooch, the truth is that some dogs do enjoy sleeping with pillows and won’t be shy to snuggle up next to you at bedtime. Do they need to use pillows, though?

No. Dogs are built completely differently from humans. Their shoulder blades are perfectly supportive enough that they don’t need the extra support that we humans get from our pillows. A pillow won’t support their neck or spine the same way it does for us.

That said, just because they’re not deriving anatomical support from pillows doesn’t mean that they don’t want to use one anyway.

dog sleeping on pillows
Image Credit: Samuel Charron, Unsplash

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Why Does My Dog Like My Pillow?

There are several reasons your dog might be taking a fancy to your pillow.

Security

If your pup uses your pillow a lot, he could be doing so because it makes him feel safe. After all, your pillow will inevitably have your scent on it.

Dogs’ olfaction is their most powerful sense. Studies show that dogs can discriminate familiar human scents from others. They have a positive association with the scent of their humans, so if your pup is using your pillow, chances are he’s doing it to feel closer to you.

Marking

While some dogs might revel in your scent to feel secure, others showcase their territorialism by spreading their scent on whatever is nearby. When his scent is on your belongings, it shows that this item belongs to them and no one else. So, if your dog is a bit on the territorial side, he could be using your pillow to display his dominance over you.

You need to address this behavior sooner than later if your dog is aggressive towards you or a bully to other pets or family members.

Dog sleeping comfortably on big soft pillow
Image Credit: 632imagine, Shutterstock

Pack Bond

The bond that you and your dog have may be a determinant for which side of the bed he chooses to sleep on.

Dogs and wolves are very similar. They share 98.8% of the same DNA, so it’s not surprising that your domestic dog takes after his wild wolf counterpart in behavior sometimes. Wild wolves have a strong pack bond and will sleep together. Your dog might be using your pillow because he looks at you as a member of his pack.

Protection

Another potential reason your dog likes your pillow is that he’s trying to protect you as you sleep. If you’re part of the 43% of American dog owners who share their bed with their dog, you might notice this protective behavior more. Your pooch may feel like he needs to stand on guard to protect you at your most vulnerable moments, like when you’re sleeping.

dog sleeping in bed
Image By: Aleksey Boyko, Shutterstock

Comfort

There might be no other reason for his infatuation with your pillow other than basking in the comfort and warmth that only a good pillow can provide. Pillows are soft, squishy, and cozy. While your dog doesn’t need a pillow to help him sleep or keep his body aligned the way it is meant to be, they know a good cozy sleeping spot when they see one.

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Is It Okay to Sleep With My Dog?

Whether you want your dog to sleep in bed with you is a decision you need to make on your own. Some interesting statistics suggest that sleeping with your dog is actually beneficial, however.

A study by sleep specialists found that sleeping with your dog can modify one’s hyperarousal and hypervigilance at bedtime, thus mitigating anxiety and insomnia.

Another study suggests that owners who sleep with their dogs have a better quality of sleep because their dog provides security, companionship, and relaxation.

Human-dog interactions can also lower one’s blood pressure levels and heart rates. The study suggests that people can lower their blood pressure and heart rates while petting their dogs, so imagine how beneficial having one touching you all night could be.

Of course, there are some drawbacks to sharing a bed with your dog.

Your sleep cycle might be affected if your dog causes a lot of sleep disturbances throughout the night. Dogs are polyphasic sleepers and have approximately three sleep/wake cycles every nighttime hour. They also tend to be light sleepers and can wake up at the slightest sound.

pet owner sleeping with dog on her bed
Image Credit: Daniel Myjones, Shutterstock

Why Is My Dog Biting My Pillows?

Not all dog-related pillow behavior is positive. Some dogs will chew incessantly at anything, pillows included.

Gentle nibbles can be a sign of affection as puppies learn to communicate with their mouths. Puppies also might learn to chew on objects while they’re teething to try and relieve themselves of the pain. When these puppies grow into adults, this behavior can become quite destructive.

One of the most common reasons your adult dog could be nibbling at your pillows is boredom. He might be looking for a way to stimulate himself. If this is the case for your pooch, try getting him outside for the daily recommended amount of exercise for his breed and life stage.

Separation anxiety is another reason your pillows become chew toys. Since your pillow carries your scent, anxious dogs might resort to biting your pillow as a way to try and calm themselves in your absence. You might also notice other telltale signs of anxiety-like pacing or crying. If your pooch is suffering from separation anxiety, you should speak to your vet to determine the best course of action. In mild cases, counterconditioning can help reverse the effects of the anxiety. In severe cases, your dog may need complex desensitization that’s best done under the guidance of a behaviorist or vet.

If the pillow biting turns into pillow eating, your dog might have pica. This disorder is characterized by animals eating inedible things like dirt, bags, laundry, or—yep—pillows. If you know your pup has been eating things he shouldn’t be, it’s best to get him looked over at the vet. Pica can indicate nutritional deficiencies that need treating.

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Final Thoughts

No two dogs are the same, so while some might love snuggling up with you on your pillow, others might not have pillows on their radar whatsoever. If your dog is cozying up next to you at bedtime, he may just want to be close to you. If you’re okay with this closeness throughout the night, there’s no need to try to correct the behavior. If your dog is disrupting your sleep, you may need to sleep-train them in a bed specifically for them.


Featured Image Credit: Alex Boc, Shutterstock

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