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Why Does Your Dog Sleep on Your Pillow? 6 Reasons & Tips to Stop It

Oliver Jones

By Oliver Jones

Dog sleeping comfortably on big soft pillow

Did you know that about 45% of dog owners are sharing their beds with their pets? While a sweet action, the bigger the dog, the more space they take up in bed. Of course, some dogs make the perfect cuddle buddy, but others are like sleeping with a giant because the bed just isn’t big enough.

If your pet doesn’t sleep in bed with you normally but has stolen your pillow while you’re not using it, then this is for you. Why on earth are they doing this? It’s a pillow, right? For a dog, this pillow can mean several things. Some of the behavior is acceptable and understandable, but one needs to be corrected right away.

Let’s look into why your dog could be sleeping on your pillow, and ways to correct the behavior.

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Top 6 Reasons Why Your Dog Sleeps on Your Pillow

1. Security

Just like humans, dogs have smells that just make them feel safe. For us, it could be the smell of lavender or even fresh-cut grass. We have smells that tell our brains that everything is going to be okay.

Dogs take comfort in the scent of their owners. There are many studies done that show that the pleasure center of the canine brain reacts to the owner’s odor more than other smells. This means you are your dog’s comfort smell. For anxious dogs, this is helpful in making them feel like you are close.

If you find your dog sleeping on your pillow when you aren’t there, chances are they have found their safe place to sleep. They consider you, their safe place, and trust that you will protect them from harm, even if you aren’t currently using your bed.

dog sleeping on pillows
Image Credit: Samuel Charron, Unsplash

2. Protection

While the pillow is a safe spot, your dog could easily be doing more than just making themselves feel safe.

Dogs are incredibly protective of their owners, no matter what size they are. Sleeping on your pillow allows them to watch over you at night and make sure that you are okay. There have been many dogs that end up checking on their human’s breathing to make sure things are all good.

Since dogs are pack animals, they want to keep their pack safe. When you are asleep, you are at your most vulnerable to danger. They are like a guardian angel, protecting you from any danger that could happen.

Guardian breeds show this behavior more than others. In fact, you may find that if you have a baby they want to sleep in the baby’s room. They do this because they understand the baby is the smallest and requires the most protection at night.

3. Imitation

You know the old saying: “Monkey see, monkey do”? It applies here, as your dog is most likely mimicking your behavior. Dogs take cues from their pack leader about what to do and what is going to be the best for the pack. You’re the leader of the pack and so your dog wants to be just like you.

When you go to sleep, your dog wants to sleep with you. So, they pick the pillow and snuggle right on up with your head because the pillow is comfortable. Remember, imitation is the best form of flattery!

Sleeping with dog
Image Credit: Rasulov, Shutterstock

4. Marking

There is a chance your dog actually thinks they are in charge and not you.

Are there shows of dominance over you or even other people in the house? Is your dog being aggressive towards others or bullying them away from activities? Typically, this is a sign that your dog needs more training and isn’t seeing you as part of the pack to be respected.

When they sleep on your pillow, they are marking the spot with their scent. It is a sign to others that this spot is their spot and no one else can have it. This kind of behavior isn’t exactly welcome and needs to be corrected before it gets worse.

This marking won’t just happen with the pillow either. Places in the house, seats, food dishes, and even outside can be signs your dog is marking their place.

5. Bonding

Dogs are pack animals, and pack animals sleep together. Just like their ancestors, they are using this time to bond with you.

Sleep is when everyone is at their most vulnerable and dogs are well aware of this. If your dog is deciding your pillow is the place to be, they are showing they trust you and feel safe around you. This could easily be why they sleep on your pillow and not the pillow of your partner.

Sleeping with dog
Image Credit: Daniel Myjones, Shutterstock

6. Comfort

Finally, and possibly the most valid reason a dog would sleep on your pillow is comfort. Pillows are soft and snuggly, and they make the perfect spot to take a nap.

We as humans love our pillows because they are soft and help us sleep. While a dog doesn’t need a pillow, they know a soft spot is a brilliant spot to sleep. Since dogs sleep upwards of 14 hours a day, it makes sense they want to be comfortable.

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How to Prevent Dogs Sleeping on Pillows

If for any reason you don’t want your dog to sleep on your pillow, there are ways to train them to not use it. One of the biggest reasons for not wanting to share your pillow is insomnia.

You have to know that getting your dog to sleep anywhere else is going to take time. Don’t expect this to be a quick fix as dogs thrive off routine. Once you establish a routine with them, it becomes easier for them to know that the pillow is your spot, not theirs.

The easiest way to get a dog to sleep away from your pillow is to start with the most comfortable dog bed you can find. Make sure it is big enough for them to stretch out on, curl up on, or even snuggle into. Each dog is going to want something different in a dog bed, which means you may have to shop around for one that fits your dog’s needs. Once you have the bed that they like, you can start training them to sleep in it.

Start with putting an unwashed pillowcase of yours in the bed to get them willing to use it. When you see them settling into it, reward them and praise them for it. After they get the idea, you can remove the pillowcase or keep it there.

From there, you can set up the bed in your room, close to the bed but not a tripping hazard for you. Eventually, your dog will get the understanding that their bed is where they sleep, and your bed is where you sleep.

To keep the security up, you can add blankets or shirts that smell like you so they can snuggle with them when you aren’t home.

mix breed dog sleeping in dog bed
Image Credit: Christin Lola, Shutterstock

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Your dog just really loves you and wants to be close to you as they sleep. If you don’t have a problem with them snuggling, then there is no need to correct the behavior. However, if you do, there is a simple way to train them to sleep in a dog bed. It just takes time to make sure all parties are comfortable.

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Featured Image Credit: 632imagine, Shutterstock

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