If your dog has been sleeping on your pillow a lot, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do about them.
So, why does my dog sleep on my pillow? Possible reasons why your dog has been sleeping on your pillow are that it is anxious, it smells your scent on the pillow, it finds your pillow comfortable or that it has learned that it gets rewarded for sleeping on your pillow.
Since there are a number of possible causes, it would help to consider what would make each of them more likely to be the main reason. Once you have a good idea of the main cause, it should become a lot easier to get your dog to stop doing it.
Why your dog sleeps on your pillow
Below are a number of possible causes and what would make each of them more likely to be the main cause.
It could be a sign that it has some separation anxiety. This is because it will be able to smell your scent on the pillow and it could make it feel less anxious. This would be more likely if it sleeps on your pillow when you are away and if it starts to become anxious when you are leaving.
It smells your scent
The cause might also be that it likes the smell of the pillow. This would be more likely if it tends to sleep on it at random times and if it also sleeps on things with your scent on such as your bed or the area you tend to sit in.
It finds it comfortable
The cause could also be that it simply finds the pillow comfortable. This would be more likely if it tends to sleep there at random times and it does not seem to be looking for attention when it does it.
It makes your dog feel safer
The cause could be that it makes it feel safer. Dogs were bred to work alongside their owners and the other members of their pack for hours on a daily basis and they would sleep together.
So, sleeping on your pillow could make it feel like it is around other pack members and cause it to feel more secure.
This would be more likely to be the reason if it does it more when you are in the bed and if it sleeps where you are during the day as well. However, it could still be the cause if it also does it when you are not around since your scent will be on the pillow.
Reinforcing the behavior
It could also be the case that you have been encouraging the behavior by giving it things it wants when it does it. If you tend to give it things such as extra attention, toys, or treats when it sleeps on your pillow, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
Instead, it would help to reward it when it sleeps where you want it to, to give it positive reinforcement training to get it to sleep where you want and to redirect its focus when it is about to sleep on your pillow.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.
What else happened when your dog first started sleeping on your pillow
If your dog started doing it suddenly, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it. It could be the case that there was an event that caused it to start. If it started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as learning that the behavior gets rewarded or that it started to get separation anxiety.
What is different when it does not do it
It would also help to consider the timing of when it sleeps on your pillow. If it does it when you are not home, it would be more likely that it does it due to separation anxiety. Whereas, if it does it at random times, it would be more likely that it finds your pillow comfortable or that it likes the smell.
What to do about your dog sleeping on your pillow
Below are some options you have when getting your dog to stop sleeping on your pillow.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
As mentioned above, it could be the case that your dog has learned that it gets rewards for sleeping on your pillow. Instead, it would help to reward it when it sleeps where you want it to but to avoid giving it rewards when it does not.
Train it to go somewhere else
One option would be to use positive reinforcement training to get your dog to lay somewhere else. Positive reinforcement training is where you encourage it to behave in a certain way by rewarding it when it shows signs of behaving that way.
Give it another place to sleep
It would also help to give it another place to sleep. The area should be cool, quiet and there should be space for it to lay down. Another option would be to give it a crate to sleep in so that it can go there to feel secure.
Limit reasons why it might be anxious
It would also help to try to reduce how anxious it becomes without you. Things you can do are to make sure to feed it, give it exercise and let it pee before leaving so that it does not have to wait too long. I have written more about why your dog might be anxious at night and what to do about it here.
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