Do dogs need pillows to sleep?

The concept of pets using human-style amenities often sparks intrigue and curiosity. While we, as humans, recognize the importance of comfort items such as pillows for our rest and relaxation, do our canine companions share the same sentiment?

Do dogs actually need pillows for a sound sleep? In this guide, we delve deep into the world of canine sleeping habits, exploring whether introducing a pillow to their sleeping quarters can be beneficial or if it’s merely a human projection.

Guide: Do Dogs Need Pillows to Sleep?

  1. Natural Sleeping Habits of Dogs:
    • In the wild, canines often curl up in a ball to preserve body heat and protect vital organs. They might dig up the ground to create a comfortable nest. These habits don’t naturally align with the use of a raised pillow.
    • Domesticated dogs, however, have adapted to various home comforts, but their fundamental sleeping habits often remain instinctual.
  2. Comfort vs. Necessity:
    • While dogs don’t inherently need pillows, many find them comfortable. Just as some humans prefer firmer sleeping surfaces, dogs too have individual preferences.
    • Soft pillows can be especially beneficial for older dogs with arthritis or other joint issues. The cushioning can alleviate pressure points, making their rest more comfortable.
  3. Safety and Health Considerations:
    • For brachycephalic breeds (like Pugs or Bulldogs), elevating the head slightly might aid in easier breathing.
    • On the flip side, introducing a pillow can be risky if your dog is a chewer. They might ingest parts of the pillow, which can lead to blockages or allergic reactions.
  4. Size and Breed Specifics:
    • Larger breeds might benefit more from full-body orthopedic beds than just a head pillow. These beds offer support to larger joints and muscles.
    • Smaller breeds, which often seek cozy nooks, might find comfort in a soft pillow that they can nuzzle into.
  5. Temperature Regulation:
    • Pillows can offer insulation from cold floors. In winter, this might be an advantage.
    • However, during warmer months, dogs might avoid the pillow in favor of cooler surfaces. Ensure your pet has options to choose from based on their comfort.
  6. Emotional Comfort:
    • Beyond physical comfort, pillows carrying the scent of their human companions can offer emotional comfort, especially for anxious dogs. This can be beneficial during times of change or stress.
  7. Hygiene:
    • If you decide to introduce a pillow to your dog’s sleep area, ensure it’s washable. Dogs can bring in dirt, shed fur, and sometimes even parasites. Regular cleaning is essential to maintain a hygienic sleeping environment.

When it comes to canine comfort, one size doesn’t fit all. While dogs don’t inherently require pillows for sleep, many can benefit from the added cushioning and warmth they offer. As pet owners, it’s essential to observe and understand our pets’ individual needs and preferences. If considering adding a pillow to your dog’s bedding, safety, hygiene, and the specific needs of your dog should be paramount. After all, our primary goal is to ensure their happiness and well-being.

How to stop your dog sleeping on a pillow?

If you’ve decided that you don’t want your dog sleeping on a pillow, perhaps due to hygiene reasons or because they’re exhibiting destructive behavior, you’ll need to transition them to another sleeping habit gently. Here’s a guide on how to discourage your dog from using a pillow:

  1. Provide Alternatives:
    • Offer a comfortable dog bed or a designated sleeping mat that caters to their size and preferences.
    • Consider orthopedic beds for older dogs or those with joint issues.
    • Place the new sleeping option in their favorite resting spot to make it more appealing.
  2. Positive Reinforcement:
    • Reward your dog with treats, praise, or affection when they choose to sleep on their bed or designated area.
    • Over time, they will associate the new sleeping spot with positive feedback.
  3. Set Boundaries:
    • If your dog is used to sleeping on a pillow on your bed, it might be helpful to set clear boundaries.
    • Train them to understand commands like “off” when they try to climb onto the bed or use the pillow.
    • Be consistent with your commands. If you allow them on the pillow occasionally, it can be confusing for them.
  4. Make the Pillow Less Appealing:
    • Consider placing a mildly scented repellent (that’s safe for pets) on the pillow. There are various pet-safe repellents available in the market that can deter dogs.
    • Alternatively, you can use aluminum foil or double-sided tape, which creates an unpleasant surface for the dog. Most dogs dislike the texture and will avoid resting on it.
  5. Engage in Training Sessions:
    • If your dog is persistent, consider more structured training sessions. Use commands and rewards to guide them towards the behavior you desire.
    • If necessary, you can also consider consulting with a dog trainer or behaviorist.
  6. Keep the Door Closed:
    • If the pillow is in a specific room, like your bedroom, keep the door closed when you’re not around to monitor your dog. This prevents them from sneaking in and using the pillow.
  7. Maintain a Routine:
    • Dogs thrive on routine. If you incorporate the new sleeping arrangement into their daily routine, they are more likely to adapt faster.
    • For instance, after an evening walk, guide your dog to their new sleeping spot. Over time, they’ll understand that it’s their designated resting place.
  8. Patience is Key:
    • Transitioning to a new habit can take time. Be patient and understand that your dog might take a while to adjust to the change.

Changing a dog’s sleeping habits requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. By making the new arrangement comfortable and rewarding, and the pillow less appealing, you can guide your dog towards adopting a new sleeping spot that works best for both of you. Always approach the situation with understanding and compassion for your pet’s feelings and preferences.


Aren’t dogs naturally inclined to sleep on hard surfaces like they would in the wild?

While it’s true that wild canines might rest on harder surfaces, domesticated dogs have evolved and adapted to home comforts. Though they don’t need pillows inherently, some dogs might find them more comfortable, especially given the range of indoor surfaces they encounter.

My dog has joint issues. Would a pillow help in providing more comfort?

For dogs with joint issues, arthritis, or age-related discomfort, a soft pillow can alleviate pressure points. However, you might also consider an orthopedic dog bed which offers more comprehensive support for the entire body.

I’ve introduced a pillow, but my dog doesn’t seem interested. Should I be concerned?

Dogs have individual preferences. Just as some humans prefer firmer mattresses, your dog might lean towards harder surfaces. Observe their habits; they’ll often choose what’s most comfortable for them. If they avoid the pillow, it’s just a matter of personal preference.


Dogs, much like humans, have unique needs and comfort preferences. While they don’t inherently require pillows to sleep, the added cushioning can offer benefits for some, especially those with specific health concerns. However, it’s crucial to remember that the best judge of comfort is your pet. Observing their habits, preferences, and ensuring their well-being is paramount will ensure that they get the rest they need, pillow or not.

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