After a long hard day, nothing is better than coming home to a pet. It can strike a chord of jealousy, however, when your furry friend is peacefully curled up in the same spot where you left him several hours ago.
Often times the place dogs choose to curl up is in your bed, right on the pillow where you lay your head at night. But have you ever wondered why your pooch prefers that exact spot to make his nest for slumber?
In this post, I’ll talk about the most common causes of this behavior.
Why Does Your Dog Like to Sleep on Your Pillow?
The first and perhaps most obvious reason why your dog likes to sleep on your pillow is for simple comfort.
Pillows are soft, malleable, and snuggly, making it the perfect place to sleep well at night. It’s comfortable enough that you want to sleep on it, right? Chances are your pup just thinks it’s a good snooze spot, too.
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Another reason why your dog sleeps on your pillow is that he’s actually mimicking your behavior. Dogs are born with certain natural instincts, but they also take cues from their pack leader, and guess who that pack leader is? You!
Your dog views you as the head of your pack and wants to be just like you, so he lays his head where you do and sleeps where you sleep.
Remember, imitation is the best form of flattery!
On the flip side, your dog may think he’s actually the pack leader.
Does he run ahead of you on walks, behave aggressively towards you. or show other signs of dominance over you? This is an indication that he still needs some training to recognize you as the alpha of the pack.
Even if he doesn’t try to dominate you but you have a partner, children, or other pets, he could be marking his territory over them, rather than over you.
Dogs are very possessive, and even though they typically like to travel in packs, they don’t want to share the attention and resources their primary human provides.
Sleeping on your pillow is a way for them to spread their scent and assert dominance over other pets or humans in the house.
You know how certain scents are comforting to you, like the smell of hot cocoa on a cold day? Well, your scent has the same calming effect on your dog.
If he sleeps with you on your pillow at night, it may be because it brings him a sense of security to be as close to you as possible.
Sleeping on your pillow also gives him some of your body heat along with your scent, making it the comfiest spot in the whole house for him.
When you aren’t at home (like during the day while you’re at work), your pillow may still be your pup’s preferred snuggle spot simply because it smells like you.
Your dog may not be sleeping on your pillow just for his own security, but for yours, too.
Dogs are very protective of their owners, and sleeping on your pillow allows them to watch over you through the night. Some pets have even been known to check their owners’ breathing to make sure they’re okay.
This could mean that you have an extra special guardian angel looking over you as you sleep.
Dogs in the wild instinctively sleep in a huddle with their pack members, and families especially make sure to sleep together.
Newborn puppies snuggle closely with their mother or both parents not only for safety, but also because sleeping close together helps form and strengthen a close bond.
Sleeping on your pillow could be your dog’s way of connecting with you and strengthening your relationship.
Some dogs will lay on your pillow just to get a reaction out of you or signal that they want to play. This is more common in puppies, and it’s typically a learned behavior.
Particularly if you have expressed that you don’t like your dog to lay there by picking him up, moving him, or even using treats to lure him out of the spot, he may think this is a clever and fun way to get some touches, playtime, or treats out of you.
How to Get Your Dog off Your Pillow?
If for any reason this bothers you, and you don’t want to share the place where you lay your head with your dog, there are a few tips and tricks you can try to keep him off your pillow.
The most obvious way is to buy him his own comfy pet bed, preferably one with some type of headrest. Start by keeping it in your bed by your pillow, then slowly move it further to the foot of the bed and eventually to the floor.
Putting the dog’s bed in a warm spot (like near a vent or heater, but not directly next to it to be safe) may also encourage him to sleep there. Also, make sure to leave a piece of your recently worn clothing (like a sock or T-shirt) for him to cuddle with.
There are many reasons why your dog prefers to sleep on your pillow, and most of them are positive and mean your good boy just wants to be near you, get your attention, or strengthen your bond in some way.
Of course, it’s totally fine, and many pet owners prefer to let their pup snooze in the bed right next to them.
As long as it doesn’t bother you and he isn’t displaying signs of aggressiveness or dominance, it’s perfectly okay to keep your best friend by your side at night.
Li-ran is the Founder and Executive Editor at PuppyTip. He is a holistic pet parent and believes that dogs can teach us more than we could ever teach them. He also loves cooking, especially for his dog, Richie!