Skip to Content

7 Weird Reasons Why Your Dog Sleeps Under Pillows + 5 Tips

Why Does My Dog Sleep Under Pillows

Does your dog share your bed? Isn’t it lovely having our beloved fur babies cuddle us up when we sleep?


Do you always find yourself adjusting because your dog sleeps under your pillow?

Are you starting to think they love their pillow more than they love you?

Read on and find out if:

  • It’s just a wonderful pillow.
  • Your dog’s feeling insecure.
  • You haven’t trained your dog enough.
  • Your dog’s in need of personal space.
  • It’s just your dog’s lifelong mission to protect you.
  • And so much more…

Why does my dog sleep under pillows?

Dogs sleep under pillows because they want to protect you, find it comfortable, imitate you, or want to be closer to your scent which calms them down. They might also feel insecure or be ill. Sleeping under your pillow might have become a habit due to a lack of training. 

7 reasons why your dog sleeps under pillows

#1: “I keep my human safe!”

I’m yet to meet a dog whose desires don’t involve keeping their human safe.

Dogs sleep under pillows to be closer to their humans. And to be able to protect them.

While this may not be an ideal setup or could get uncomfortable or bothersome at times, dogs mean well.

Them putting themselves in vulnerable positions is the ultimate form of showing trust.

In this case, while their head’s under the pillow, they’re on their back with their paws in the air. It’s cute, but also a compromising position because their belly’s exposed.

This only means your dog has confidence in you and is comfortable.

Plus, by being close to us, they can ‘tell’ if something is off with our health and mood.

Speaking of… Did you know that dogs also keep humans in good health?

Their nose can smell changes in a person’s odor caused by an illness. And yes, our scent changes when we’re sick – literally and figuratively.

They’re able to smell changes in their people that are beyond the human senses. Or the ailment is still in the early stages that the person doesn’t feel a thing.

Aside from that, your dog smells and senses the shifts in your mood.

Your Dog Sleeps Under Pillows Because He Senses The Shifts In Your Mood

So do you ever wonder how your dog always seems to know when you’re feeling some type of way and need some extra love?

They hardly understand a word we’re saying even if we vent out to them, so how can this be?

This is because a part of a dog’s brain is devoted to deciphering emotions in human (and dog) voices, a study says.

Some dogs are more finely attuned to humans than to their fellow dogs. But you might be wondering: how do dogs tell a happy giggle from a sad sigh?

Dogs and humans alike extract feelings from a sound by using acoustic parameters.

For instance, “Ha ha ha” vs. “Haaa haaa haaa.” The short, quick bits are the sound of a laugh. But when elongated, it sounds like you’re crying or whining.

Your voice carries indicators of depression and other negative feelings. And your dog can decipher those, so don’t be surprised if they sleep under your pillow because of it.

#2: “I claim this my private space!”

Note: This doesn’t apply to dogs burying their face or head exclusively under pillows. This may also happen when it’s not bedtime and you’re not in bed.

The real question is: Why do dogs sleep with their head under things?

It’s because dogs need their own space, and its importance is often unacknowledged.

Yes, we love them, and we almost always want to spend every second with them.

But what happens if they’re deprived of having personal space?

Imagine being in an elevator and someone gets on. Instead of standing on the other side, the person stands right beside you.

O.K. This is debatable. As not all people or dogs have a tendency to be bothered. But you can imagine how it feels.

You don’t like feeling uncomfortable or as if you’re being suffocated. So why should your dog tolerate it?

In relevance, a social media trend called “Invading my dog’s personal space” was going viral a while ago. A lot of people, mostly teens, were doing it.

It’s a challenge to invade your pet’s (mostly dogs) personal space and see their reaction.

Even though I disagree with this challenge, I decided to show you what’s going on in the world. Here goes:

Warning: Dogs may react negatively when they feel threatened. So remember 2 very important facts:

  1. Just because your dog tolerates something, doesn’t mean you should do it repeatedly.
  2. And just because your dog doesn’t react to it now, doesn’t mean they won’t react another time.

Complete disregard to these will only result in disaster and a lot of stitches. Why?

Because they will snap, one way or another.

So it might sound ridiculous that they chose under your pillow as their spot. But if it works for them, let them have it.

#3: “I love soft and fluffy things like me!”

“Wherever you got that pillow, I’d like to get one too.”

This is one of the more obvious and common reasons why your dog sleeps under your pillow.

It’s soft, it’s fluffy, it’s comfortable – what more can they ask for?

Great pillows allow for longer naps and better sleep, even if it’s under it. The pillow itself also provides some pressure that gives your dog the feeling of safety.

#4: “It hurts…”

Dogs are experts at hiding pain and discomfort. It’s an inherited instinct for canines to conceal pain caused by injury or frailty.

Dogs in pain would likely look for a secluded place where they can be left at peace. Somewhere that smells familiar and no one bothers them. For example, under your pillow. 

Let me give an example by telling you a story…

I have a friend whose dog just passed recently.

He was a Shih Tzu named Knox. He loved sleeping under objects and furniture: his human’s pillow or blanket, under the bed, couch – you name it.

Towards his impending goodbye, he stayed away from his mom. But my friend would always find Knox sleeping under her pillow.

What’s weird was he would leave if she attempted to cuddle him. But he’d go and stay wherever she was moments after she had left.

My friend knew Knox very well, so she got worried because he’s never that way. Sure, he may be grumpy at times because the other dogs are bothering him, but he’s never one to turn down cuddles.

His human took Knox to the vet and there, she found out that he was dying of old age and had some illnesses.

Apparently, his kidneys and liver were starting to fail, and he was also losing his eyesight. He was also losing control of his bowel movements in the process.

She asked the vet: is Knox sensing his departure the reason behind him detaching himself?

The vet said ‘yes’. Then explained that dogs have inherited an instinct to hide pain. And Knox was in a lot of it.

Heart-wrenchingly, my friend chose to put Knox to sleep.

It turned out that Knox only had 2-3 days max before he finally said goodbye on his own. My friend couldn’t bear the thought and chose to do right by her beloved fur son (he’s her very first dog).

Knox was 11 years old when he crossed the rainbow bridge to play with all the other good-est doggos in puppy heaven.

So, you know, Knox spending time under objects such as his human mama’s pillow was a sign of something serious. He wanted to be left alone and go peacefully.

#5: “Your scent calms me!”

Whether your dog’s feeling anxious or jealous, your scent brings comfort to them.

This doesn’t only apply when you’re in bed with your dog. They may also sleep under the pillow when you’re not home.

Let me give you a scenario: Your significant other has to go out of town on a business trip or something. Then you’re left home alone for a week or two. 

But their clothes still smell of their perfume. So when you hold these, it feels like your beloved person is not too far away. It’s kinda comforting. 

That might be similar to what our dogs are experiencing while we’re not around. And all they have left is our scent for the time being.

#6: “I sleep like my human!”

Are you a light sleeper that you put your head under the pillow to not be awoken by the potential noises at night? 

Your dog doesn’t know that’s the reason, but dogs, in general, mimic what they see in humans and other dogs.

So your dog’s doing the same because they’re likely imitating how you sleep.

#7: “I do what furry mama and I used to do.”

Furry Mama Takes Care Of Her Puppy

Two words: Survival instinct.

No two dogs are wired the same way, even highly trained hero military dogs.

When dogs are still puppies, their mama dogs are mainly responsible for 3 things:

  • Food.
  • Warmth.
  • Protection.

But the specific breakdown of their responsibilities are as follows:

  • Play.
  • Motion. 
  • Contact.
  • Nursing.
  • Punishment.
  • Grooming/licking.
  • Thermoregulation.

These are all part of mammalian maternal behavior specifically in dogs. 

When puppies are still with their mama, they bury their heads in her stomach when they feed. 

Sometimes, mother dogs bury their puppies when they sense danger. This is to keep their puppies safe from predators that they can smell from miles away.

So as a result, dogs do this even in their adult years because it makes them feel safe.

BONUS: “Human gives me the good stuff when I’m under here…”

“… So I must do it over and over again!”

You could’ve accidentally put something under the pillow… A forgotten treat when you two were playing, perhaps?

Or you see your dog under the pillow and you find the sight adorable! So you can’t help but scratch or pet your pooch.

If so, then this gives your dog the idea that they get rewarded when they go under the pillow.

This reinforces the behavior especially if you play on the bed frequently.

So your dog has associated going under the pillow with good things, which is either getting treats or getting attention.

5 tips on what to do if your dog sleeps under pillows + 3 risks to watch out for

#1: Be in tune with your dog

The best way to know why your dog’s sleeping under your pillow? 

“Know thy dog.”

Truly be acquainted them as in if they’re doing something weird, ask yourself:

  • Why are they doing it?
  • What’s causing them to act that way?
  • Is there something wrong?

Don’t jump to negative conclusions right away though. Assess and observe first.

This also applies to having your dog checked up regularly. Who else can tell best what’s up with our dogs if not the experts?

#2: Get them their own bed if they don’t have one

Do this if your dog just picked up on the habit of hiding his head under your pillow and if it’s becoming troublesome.

Better yet, provide them a bed even if they haven’t developed this behavior yet.

Warning: Over time, your dog might become an “excessive burrower.” It’s possible for him to get stuck and suffocate under things. More so, couple up the burrowing with digging and it’ll get destructive, so watch out for that.

If they already have a bed of their own, discourage this behavior by training them. But if you don’t have the time, it’s ideal to call for professional help.

Also, check if their bed is comfortable enough. It might be that they don’t fit in it anymore, or it’s gotten flat over the years that it’s no longer soft and fluffy.

#3: Give attention and importance to personal space

In addition to tip #1, learn to read your dog’s body language.

If you have people around that your dog’s unfamiliar with, he might react negatively.

Warning: Pay close attention especially to children playing with your dog.

Some things children do to dogs that make them react aggressively are:

  • Tugging their tail.
  • Pulling on their fur.
  • Snatching anything away from them.

Dog-related injuries are more common in children aging 0-9. Guidance and supervision is advised.

#4: Make your dog feel safe even more

It’s a no-brainer that we humans want to feel safe, and so do our dogs.

Make your dogs feel safe by increasing physical contact. Here are some ways to do this:

  • Exercise.
  • Pet them.
  • Be relaxed and sit next to them.
  • Distract them when they’re nervous (play fetch, etc.)

Doing physical activities help lower stress levels for both you and your dog. Happy human, happy doggo!

Warning: While it’s healthy to have plenty of exercise and fun physical activities, do it in moderation. If not, this can be counterproductive and may turn into over-stimulation.

Avoid this risk by teaching your dog that he should also know how to calm down. Offer him a quiet and comfy place to relax and calm down in.

#5: Know how to respond

Yes, your primary instinct is to hug your dog back when he tries to snuggle you, but avoid hugging them.

According to PsychologyToday, embracing your dog increases their stress and anxiety levels. Dr. Stanley Coren, an expert in dogs, strongly advises against it.

You don’t want them to feel threatened or unsafe, so give them little pats to reward them instead of hugging them.

Keep doing this even if it takes weeks. Remember, patience is always key.

When your dog is able to lay elsewhere without going under things, this means he’s making progress.

Reward them by giving them treats and petting them. Continue encouraging this behavior. This way, they will then eventually learn that there’s nothing to worry about and that they’re safe.

But wait, there’s more!

Did you know that dogs also link their human’s scent with pleasure? 

It appears that dogs can discern their humans and have a positive expectation about them. Not only that, but your smell lingers in your dog’s mind as well.

This means that even in your absence, your dog still knows your scent – and it’s one of, if not their favorite.

So if you have a dog with separation anxiety, you can leave a clothing item with your scent in it. That will give your dog comfort for the duration you’re not around.