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Why Does My Dog Sleep on My Pillow? Their Canine Instincts Explained (2023)

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why does my dog sleep on my pillowY’all wake up after a long night and find your pooch fast asleep on your pillow again. You start to wonder – why does my dog insist on zonking out on my pillow every night? Well friend, there’s more going on in that fuzzy head than you think.

Your pup’s pillow preference is driven by some powerful canine instincts. They’re lookin’ to strengthen your bond, mark their territory, and feel protected.

It may bug you to come home and see Fido chillin’ on your cushions, but cut your pup some slack. They aren’t tryin’ to annoy you, they’re just following their natural impulses. While you don’t have to let your dog sleep on your pillow, understanding the reasoning behind the behavior can help you address it positively.

So keep reading to uncover exactly why your dog loves your pillow, when to be concerned, and how to resolve the issue without hurtin’ your relationship. With some patience and training, you and your four-legged friend will both be resting easy.

Key Takeaways

  • Dogs sleep on pillows to capture their owners’ comforting scent and activate their pleasure centers.
  • Scent plays a significant role in pillow preference for dogs, as it provides relief and triggers a reward response in their brain.
  • Pillows also serve as a form of protection for dogs, allowing them to guard their vulnerable owners and stay alert to potential threats.
  • Sleeping on pillows enhances social bonds between dogs and their owners, creating physical closeness and releasing oxytocin in both.

Why Do Dogs Sleep on Pillows?

Why Do Dogs Sleep on Pillows
You’re likely to find your canine companion snugglin’ up on your pillow ’cause it soothes ’em with your scent and makes ’em feel safe while you sleep. Your pillow captures your distinctive smell of hot cocoa that lifts your pup’s spirits.

Dogs have learned curling up on your pillow strengthens your special bond and helps ’em feel protected, just like when they’d sleep beside the pack leader for warmth and security in the wild.

Your scent actually activates the pleasure centers in your dog’s brain, hitting their caudate nucleus to release calmin’ chemicals that ease their worries. So when your pooch drifts off on your pillow, they’re not asserting dominance or begging for attention – they’re just revelin’ in the cozy feeling of your familiar, comforting scent.

For many dogs, it’s become a habit that starts early on as a way to soothe separation anxiety. While personal preference may lead some owners to limit pillow privileges, insight into this instinctive pillow-snuggling behavior can help build understanding.

How Does Scenting Behavior Influence Pillow Preference?

How Does Scenting Behavior Influence Pillow Preference
Scenting behavior plays an important role in why your furry friend loves snuggling up on your pillow, as the familiar smell of you gives them a sense of security and comfort. Additionally, it can even activate pleasure centers in their brain to release calming chemicals that help diminish any worries they may have.

  • An fMRI study of canine brain responses showed scent-activated reward areas.
  • Your pillow captures your scent to become a soothing cuddle buddy.
  • Your owner’s scent brings relief when you’re away.
  • Certain scents, like lavender, provide calming effects.
  • Resource guarding isn’t a sign of dominance but of insecurity.

So the next time you find your pup resting their head on your pillow, remember it’s not an act of dominance or attention-seeking, but rather a natural way for them to feel safe and relaxed surrounded by your comforting scent.

How Does Protection Play a Role in Pillow Preference?

How Does Protection Play a Role in Pillow Preference
Your steadfast companion keeps watch over you as you slumber, ready to alert you to any potential threats. To your pup, your pillow is the perfect place to keep you safe as you sleep, driven by their natural instincts to protect pack members.

Scanning for danger, ready to sound the alarm.

Guarding you when you’re most vulnerable.

Using body heat and weight to shield you.

Staying alert to subtle noises and movements.

For dogs bred as guardians, this protective behavior is especially strong. By sleeping atop your pillow in your immediate space, your pup is keeping you safe and showing devotion. This close bond is a treasure, so try to see your pillow protector as your own personal bodyguard.

What is the Relationship Between Territorial Marking and Pillow Preference?

What is the Relationship Between Territorial Marking and Pillow Preference
Claimin’ my human’s pillow, I’m just spreadin’ my scent to say this territory’s all mine. When I sleep on top of your pillow, I’m markin’ it with my unique aroma. My nose is 10,000 times stronger than yours, so I can smell that cozy cushion belongs to me.

I’m a territorial critter by nature – your bed is my den and those pillows are prime real estate for spreading my essence. Don’t take it personally, I’m just following instincts to claim what’s mine. Providing me my own special dog bed is a great way to give this possessive pooch a place to call my own.

With a comfy bed, I’ll gladly release my grasp on your pillow and snooze soundly in my new territory.

How Does Pillow Preference Enhance Social Bonding?

How Does Pillow Preference Enhance Social Bonding
By sleeping on your pillow, your pup is creating a physical connection with you and expressing their affection for you.

When your dog curls up on your pillow, they are seeking your scent for comfort and security. They are also strengthening your bond through close contact and displaying protective instincts to watch over you.

Your pup chooses to snooze beside their most trusted human. Mimicking your sleeping habits allows them to feel safe and loved. Sharing a pillow prompts the release of oxytocin, the love hormone, in both your brains.

Though you may lose a bit of pillow space, this cozy arrangement nurtures your relationship.

Is It Necessary for Dogs to Have Pillows?

Is It Necessary for Dogs to Have Pillows
Contrary to popular belief, Fido doesn’t need his own pillow to catch some Z’s. While we humans may rely on plush cushions to rest our weary noggins, our furry friends are built a bit differently.

Most pups simply pick their preferred snoozing spot, be it a dog bed, the floor, or your lap. An extra pillow can add comfort, but it isn’t a necessity for sound slumber. Instead, prioritize providing a sturdy, orthopedic bed that aligns your pooch’s spine.

Small dogs, in particular, often burrow into pillows or blankets, seeking warmth, protection, and your soothing scent. But understand that the real prize is snuggling up close to their beloved human – not claiming the plushest pillow in the house.

Focus on strengthening that bond through affection and quality time together. The pillow itself just facilitates that intimacy.

Should I Allow My Dog to Sleep in Bed With Me?

Should I Allow My Dog to Sleep in Bed With Me
You’re deepening the meaningfulness of life when deciding together where vulnerable intimacy may gently happen. As pack animals, dogs intrinsically know beds symbolize a tribe’s most cherished shelter.

Inviting Fido onto plush blankets ignites an ancestral call towards the warmth of connection.

Yet, quality rest depends on respecting each other’s needs. If your pup is experiencing separation anxiety or you desire deeper bonds, welcoming them into your bed may ease those longings. Ensure your canine understands sleeping here is a privilege, not a right. Set boundaries with positive reinforcement.

And invest in a cozy orthopedic dog bed so your companion has a beloved space to call their own.

With compassion on both sides, your bed can be a bridge binding your souls through the vulnerable act of sleeping side by side.

How Can I Get My Dog Off My Pillow?

How Can I Get My Dog Off My Pillow
Sounds like your pooch’s paws are paddin’ to the pillow ’cause they wanna be pals. But a dog sleepin’ on your pillow can ruffle your feathers when you’re tryin’ to catch some Z’s.

Here’s 5 tips to transition Fido to their own bed:

  1. Start early and set boundaries with rewards and praise. Dogs crave routines.
  2. Get Fido their own cozy, orthopedic bed so they feel secure. Add your scent to ease anxiety.
  3. Place their bed right next to yours at first for comfort. Then gradually move it farther away over time.
  4. Be patient and compassionate – this is a big change for your pup! Use calming treats or music if needed.
  5. Ignore unwanted pillow behavior completely – don’t scold or interact. Just lead them calmly to their own bed and reward.

With consistency and understanding, you can help your pooch feel relaxed and rested in their own space, while reclaiming your pillow for sweet dreams.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What breeds of dogs are most likely to sleep on pillows?

Many breeds enjoy the intimacy of sleeping on pillows, dear pet parent. Herding breeds like collies and Aussies often see themselves as protectors, wanting to keep watch over you. Terriers and other feisty pups may do it to assert their dominance or stake their claim.

Ultimately, a dog’s desire for closeness and bonding drives this behavior. With patience and compassion, teach them proper sleeping spots.

How can I train my older dog not to sleep on pillows if they are used to it?

Transition slowly with patience and positivity. Gradually move Fido’s bed farther from yours over weeks. Reward settling in his own spot. Be consistent in praising preferred behavior. Set boundaries gently – he relies on your scent for comfort.

Is it unhealthy for dogs to sleep on pillows instead of dog beds?

Though pillows may seem cozy, it’s best to transition your dog to an orthopedic bed. Their spine needs proper support, just like us. With patience and tasty treats, you can teach new habits.

Are there any risks with allowing small dogs to sleep on pillows?

While it’s cute, allowing small pups on pillows does come with some risks. They could fall and get hurt or develop possessive behaviors. Be mindful of boundaries, provide their own cozy bed, and get help from a trainer if needed.

What is the best way to transition a puppy from sleeping on pillows to their own dog bed?

Transitioning your puppy from pillows to their own bed can be made easy with patience and consistency. Reward good behavior when they settle on the dog bed, gradually move it farther away, and use calm commands like ‘settle’.


Ultimately, your dog’s tendency to sleep on your pillow boils down to their canine instincts. While allowing them this closeness and comfort strengthens your bond, it’s still your choice whether to permit pillow privileges.

With patience and compassion, you can redirect their behavior while still meeting their needs. But if their pillow preference persists, take it as a sign of their deep devotion to you.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief with a team of qualified veterinarians, their goal? Simple. Break the jargon and help you make the right decisions for your furry four-legged friends.