Just like humans, dogs sleep in a variety of positions. Whether it is sleeping on their side or sleeping on their back with their bellies exposed, there is a lot we can learn about them through their sleeping positions and habits. By observing their positions, we can spot clues that give insight into how they’re feeling. Let’s dive into the world of exploring our dogs’ sleeping habits!
1. The Side Sleeper
Lying on their side with their legs extended is one of the most common sleeping positions for dogs. This is also prominent in puppies as well as older dogs who could be suffering from stiff joints. If you find your dog in this sleeping position, allow it to get a prolonged period of restorative rest.
When your dog sleeps on their side, they are comfortable with their surroundings. They feel relaxed and safe in their environment. It is likely that they will fall into deep sleep without worrying about the need to wake up quickly. You might even notice occasional ‘sleep running’ and twitching when your dog is dreaming!
2. The Lion’s Pose
As its name suggests, this sleeping position is similar to statues of lions you might see outside of large buildings. Your dog sleeps with their head on top of their paws and their back legs at one side.
When your dog sleeps in this position, they are resting, but not in deep sleep. This position ensures that they can react quickly to any potential action, such as getting up easily if someone comes to the door or when they hear the sound of their owners preparing their dinner for them.
3. The Superman
Also commonly known as the ‘sploot’, this sleeping position is whereby your dog lays sprawled out on the ground with their belly pressed to the floor with their back legs behind them and their front legs stretched forward.
When your dog sleeps on their stomach, it indicates that they are tired but ever ready to engage in play if the opportunity arises. This sleeping position is mostly used by high energy dogs during the day, where they are ready to spring into action in the blink of an eye if a family member needs them!
4. The Donut
This position involves sleeping all curled up in a ball with your dogs’ limbs tucked close to their body. Their nose might be touching their hind legs and they may even drape their tail over their body. It offers a feeling of safety and comfort.
When your dog sleeps with all of their vital organs tucked and hidden, they might be seeking to protect themselves or simply getting used to their environment. This is common in stray or new dogs, and is also a favourite position for dogs feeling cold and are attempting to preserve their body heat.
5. The Cuddler
This is one of the most adorable sleeping positions, where your dog prefers to sleep on top of you or another dog cuddled up. A great position for those that love to let their dog sleep in their bed. It also shows a dog’s personality as some dogs want space and others are glued to people.
When your dog sleep-cuddles, it is a clear sign of bonding and indication that your dog wants to get close to you or other dogs. Sleep-cuddling is also a leftover behaviour from puppy days where they snuggle up their litter to keep warm, and becomes a habit of comfort when they grow older.
6. The Burrower
Does your dog seek out pillows, clothes or blankets to sleep under? If yes, your dog likes to sleep in the burrower position. This sleeping position may just be a matter of preference.
When sleeping in the burrower position, your dogs could be seeking comfort and security. Studies have shown that swaddling dogs in gentle pressure helps ease nervous behaviours for dogs with anxiety disorder. It could also be your dog’s way of trying to block out distractions before bed.
7. The Belly Up
A sleeping position that shows a sign of true comfort and relaxation in dogs when they lie on their back with their belly up and paws in the air.
Dogs sweat through their paws and their belly is a source of heat. Sleeping in this position helps keep them cool. As this is a vulnerable position to be in, it means that your dog fully trusts you and their environment. They also feel secure enough to expose their belly and vital organs to the world. You can find comfort in knowing that your dog is more worried about cooling down than what’s happening in their environment.
Similar to the cuddler sleeping position, the desire to cuddle up and get as close as possible by placing their back next to either you or another dog is a sign of love and comfort.
When a dog sleeps in this position, they are showing you affection and trust. They may choose to sleep this way with a family member they feel safest with and trusts the most. Sleeping back-to-back indicates a sense of intimacy.
9. On a Cold Surface
Is your dog pacing around the house looking for a cold surface to sleep on? Chances are they are feeling hot. Wherever they decide to sleep on, they are likely making sure that their tummy is touching a cold surface.
When your dog sleeps sprawled out on cool surfaces, they are maximizing the amount of unhaired skin touching the cold floor. You could help them battle the heat by turning on the fan or air-conditioner, offer them some cold water or frozen treat, and even get a cooling mat for them to sleep on.
10. Head and Neck Raised
Some dogs seek out a sleeping position where their head and neck are raised. They will usually leverage the side of their dog bed or a couch cushion.
If your dog likes to sleep in a position where their head and neck are raised, it could mean that they have issues breathing properly which is commonly seen in dogs with chronic heart disease and other health problems. Be alert and observe symptoms such as faster breathing rate, noisy breathing, or a reduced ability to exercise. When in doubt, contact your veterinarian for professional advice.
When your dog is fast asleep, you may notice them snoring, or even twitch. These are normal sleeping behaviours. Dogs do dream! Though it’s difficult to uncover exactly what dogs dream about, their brain processes the events of the day during sleep. If you notice your dog making sounds during sleep, they are reacting to something happening in their dream and you don’t need to be alarmed! Dreaming is a way for the brain to process memory and is perfectly normal.
Dogs need different amounts of sleep when they are at different stages of life. Puppies need on average 18-20 hours of sleep per day, adult dogs need on average 8-14 hours of sleep per day while senior dogs need on average 18-20 hours of sleep per day. These numbers could vary based on individual dogs, their age, activity level and personality.
It doesn’t matter where your dog sleeps as long as you and your dog are able to get a good night’s rest. Some people prefer to have their dog in their bed, and others get better rest when the dog is on the floor in their dog bed. Do what is best for you while gently enforcing boundaries to keep you and your dog as comfortable as possible. Ensure that you and your dog are well rested such that you can enjoy playing and bonding with your furry friend.
Any views or opinions communicated on this page belong to the author and do not represent the views or opinions of any other organizations. This article is meant for us to share our own views and opinions in general. Kindly consult a professional if you would like to seek professional advice.
Adopted from sources
– 10 Dog Sleeping Positions + Their Adorable Meanings. By Casper Editorial Team.
– 9 Dog Sleeping Positions And Their Meaning: All About Dog Sleep Behaviour. By Tractive.
– Images of dogs with different sleeping positions.