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Dog won’t sleep with cone or lay down

Cones, also known as e-collars, are no fun for you or your dog. Still, they serve a necessary purpose. It’s common for a dog to be uncomfortable in the cone. They may find it hard to sleep or lie down. 

Why won’t my dog sleep with a cone on?

There are a few reasons why your dog may be unable to sleep with a cone on. Just like us, they need to be in a comfortable position to sleep, and e-collars can make it harder for them to get comfortable. 

The Importance of the Cone 

First, it’s important to know why your dog needs to wear the cone. Cones are recommended after a surgery, injury, or a severe rash. Essentially, any wound on your dog’s skin can cause them to need an e-collar. 

This is because your dog will naturally want to scratch or bite the area. This is their way of caring for the wound. However, this increases the risk of infection. A cone prevents your dog from accessing the site, which reduces their infection risk. 

Improper Fit or Placement 

The first reason your dog may be unable to sleep with a cone in is that it doesn’t fit properly. It may be the wrong size, or it may not be put on properly. 

You should be  able to fit two fingers between the collar and your dog’s skin. If it’s too tight, it can pinch or scratch your pooch. It can also feel very restrictive, making it impossible for your dog to sleep. 

Uncomfortable Cone

The e-collar is commonly known as the “cone of shame”. It is absolutely infamous because it’s uncomfortable for the dog, which makes both dog and owner miserable until it comes off. 

If the cone is the older type, the material can be very stiff. This makes it uncomfortable for your dog to wear. Imagine trying to sleep with something stiff and scratchy around your neck. You’d toss and turn, waking up exhausted. Newer cones are made from softer materials, and are much more comfortable. 

Itching or Pain 

The collar itself isn’t always the culprit. Your dog is wearing the collar to prevent them scratching or biting an incision or injury. This can cause pain, which can make it hard for your pooch to sleep. It can also cause intense itching, particularly as it starts to heal. 

If you’ve ever tried to sleep while itching or in pain, you understand why your dog isn’t getting their rest. 

Why won’t my dog lay down with a cone on?

The vet told you your dog should be taking it easy, but you can’t even get them to lay down. Unfortunately, their cone may be the problem. There are a few reasons why your dog may find it difficult to lay down with a cone on. 

Improper Fit or Placement

Just like sleep, if the collar isn’t on properly and well fitted, this can cause them to not lay down. The collar may pinch or scratch them when they attempt to lay down. 

Uncomfortable Cone

If the cone is uncomfortable or made of scratchy material, this isn’t conducive to encouraging your poor pooch to relax. The feel of the cone may discourage them from lying down. This is particularly true if the cone is against their skin when lying down. 


Your pooch may be experiencing anxiety. This can be due to not being used to the cone, the procedure they underwent, or the incision or cut bothering them. 

After all, you’d be pretty anxious after a serious injury or surgical procedure. As humans, we at least understand the hows and whys of these things. Our dog’s don’t. 

Imagine going to the doctor and waking up after a surgery with a neck brace on, with no understanding of what has happened. Anxiety is completely understandable. 

If anxiety is the cause, your dog may pace or seem restless. Excessive panting, barking, and drooling are also signs of anxiety. 


Cones, even the uncomfortable ones, shouldn’t restrict your dog’s daily activities or movement. However, they can be very disorienting. 

I recently got a new large hat. It blocks a significant amount of my peripheral vision. I’m much more prone to run into things when wearing it, because it limits my line of sight. 

When your dog is wearing a collar, it severely limits their ability to see around them. They can’t see what is directly beneath them or to the side. This can make them disoriented. It can also make them reluctant to lay down, because they can’t see the floor. 

What to do if my dog won’t sleep or lay down with a cone on?

If your dog won’t lay down or sleep with a cone on, there are steps you can take. Don’t worry, you aren’t doomed to have an insomniac until the collar comes off. 

Replacement Cone 

Your vet may send your dog home wearing the old type of cone. These are very stiff and large. The good news is there are other options that are more comfortable for your pooch. 

A cone’s purpose is to prevent your dog from reaching an injury or incision site. So, as long as the collar you choose prevents your dog from reaching the site, it’s fine to use. 

One type of cone is a soft cone. This looks similar to a traditional plastic cone. However, instead of being stiff plastic, it’s made from soft material. Some even come with plastic inserts that allow you to adjust the firmness of the cone. 

Donut collars are another option. These look similar to a donut or an inflatable swim ring. Like the other types, it goes around your dog’s neck. However, it doesn’t affect their vision the way that cones do. This can make it preferable, particularly if your pooch seems disoriented with a traditional cone. 

The last option isn’t a cone or collar at all. Instead, it’s a surgical recovery suit. This looks similar to a human diving suit. It’s typically made of neoprene. 

The suit goes onto your dog’s body, preventing them from accessing the incision site by providing a barrier over your dog’s skin. It is open at the end, so your pooch can use the bathroom normally. 

Relieving Itching and Pain During Recovery 

If your pooch’s incision site is very itchy, this can make it impossible for them to rest. There are a few ways you can help them get relief. 

The simplest method is simply water or an ice pack. A spray bottle with water can provide temporary relief. A reusable ice pack can provide greater relief, and lasts longer. 

Moisturizers can also help. Vitamin E or aloe Vera can be helpful to the healing process and provide itch relief. An oatmeal bath can also provide relief. However, you’ll want to follow your vet’s recommendations when it comes to bathing. You may not be allowed to bathe your pooch for 1 to 2 weeks after the surgery. 

Lastly, creams can help. Caladry and Cortaid are anti-itch creams that are safe for your dog’s incision. If all else fails, speak with your vet about a prescription anti-itch cream. 

Your vet may send your pooch home with pain medication. If your dog seems to be in pain, give them the medication as directed by your vet.