Comfort is, summed up in a single moment, when your dog rests their head on you and sighs deeply.
I could end this post right here. We’ve all seen our dogs rest their heads on people and objects. Like humans, they seem to enjoy sleeping with some kind of neck support.
Then again, you’ll just as commonly see your dog sleeping with her head dangling off the edge of the bed, with her all four paws in the air, or in an impossibly twisted pretzel pose.
But if you’ve ever waken up with a sore neck because your pillow was too flat, too puffy or awkwardly positioned, you know how important it is to have the right amount of support while you sleep.
Do Humans Need Pillows?
A pillow can help you sleep more comfortably, particularly if you’re a side-sleeper, by keeping your neck aligned with your spine. As humans, we have relatively large brains housed in heavy heads that require a rigid, curved spine to help us walk upright.
Dogs are built differently than us. Proportionally, their shoulders are narrow, so they may find it easier to side-sleep with little head support without pushing their spine out of alignment.
You might not need a pillow if your sleep on your back. Sleeping on your back allows your spine to rest in a neutral position, and some doctors recommend pillow-less back-sleeping to people with pain and stiffness.
The funny thing is, sleeping on your back can cause snoring and sleep apnea, while sleeping on your left side can help relieve heartburn and indigestion. When it comes down to it, there’s no perfect sleep position for any human, and the same is probably true for our dogs.
Teach Your Dog To Use A Pillow… If She Wants To
Try slipping a toy or pillow under your dog’s head while she’s dozing off on her side. If she doesn’t like it, she can readjust, but you’ll probably notice that she stays there.
Some dogs will actively seek out pillows, but not all. A dog might feel uncomfortable, but might not be able to understand why. Guiding your dog to use pillows can help her discover the magic of nightly neck support.
There’s no need to direct your dog to a pillow every time you see her sleeping without one. Ultimately, she will choose the most comfortable sleeping position, given enough options.
If you can, provide your dog with multiple sleeping areas so she can change up her sleeping position. It’s possible that dogs are able to choose the right position to optimize her comfort and health.
When she’s twisted up like a pretzel she’s minimizing her exposed surface area to conserve body heat when she’s cold. When she’s sprawled out, she’s maximizing her surface area to stay cool when she’s hot.
So maybe, when she’s sprawled out on her back like a dead cockroach, she’s feeling a bit stiff in her lower back, and can adjust accordingly. Maybe she’ll sleep on her left side when she’s experiencing indigestion. Maybe she’ll seek out soft surfaces when she needs coziness, and hard surfaces when she needs more support.
The short answer to this question? Dogs should have pillows available to them, or a bed with sides that serve as neck support – but they don’t always need to use them.
Does your dog like to sleep with a pillow?