Here Are 10 Cute Ways Your Dog Sleeps—and What Each One Means

Updated on April 16, 2023

Sometimes canines will sleep in a way that is unfamiliar to their owners. Does it have any significance?

Dogs, like people, have a wide range of acceptable sleeping postures. You can tell a lot about a furry buddy by the way they sleep, whether they prefer to sleep on their side, back, or with their paws in the air.

Dogs’ sleeping positions are like small clues that might reveal a lot about how they’re really feeling. In order to get a better grasp on how dogs sleep, we consulted with vets and dog trainers to decode the meanings behind 10 popular resting positions.

Explore our dog sleeping positions chart, discover the cute significance of each sleeping position, and get an insider’s view into the routines of adult dogs and puppies.

Your dog will be able to rest soundly and peacefully all night on the Casper Dog Bed thanks to the memory foam and foam bolsters that keep them in place.

1. The Side Sleeper

Dogs, like people, like to sleep on their side. One of the most popular ways for dogs to sleep is on their side with their legs stretched out. Puppies and older dogs who may be experiencing joint pain are more likely to sleep in this position.

Sleeping on one’s side
When your dog sleeps on their side, it’s a sign that they’re comfortable and at ease. The Pup Life Today advisory board includes Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM, who says that “dogs will sleep in this position when they are feeling content with their environment and at a comfortable temperature.”

This is also the time of night when they are most likely to have restful sleep. “This position is also where you’ll often notice’sleep running’ and twitching during your dog’s dreams, as their paws are flexible and free to move,” says Jen Jones, a professional dog trainer, behavior specialist, and founder of Your Dog Advisor.

2. The Lion’s Pose

Your dog is resting in the lion’s attitude (also referred to as “the sphinx”) if it rests its head on top of its paws, much like the lion statues you see atop city landmarks. Dogs often doze off with their front paws curled in and their back legs to one side.

The stance of a lion
When dogs slumber in this way, it indicates that they are not in a profound sleep state. Expert veterinarian and Pumpkin Pet Insurance consultant Dr. Sarah Wooten says, “Dogs will often start out in this position if they feel that they may need to get up quickly.”

3. The Superman

Your dog is in the superman position if he or she is spread out on the ground, tummy down, back legs behind, and front legs stretched out in front of him or her. This stance, sometimes known as a sploot, is typical of playful puppies and adult dogs.

The Man of Steel
When your dog sleeps on their stomach in the “superman” position, it signifies they are sleepy but up for some playtime if the opportunity arises. According to Jen Jones, “dogs may sleep swiftly in this position but still be ready to bounce up and play in an instant.” Dogs with a lot of energy tend to nap like this during the day.

4. The Donut

When your dog adopts the donut position, they will sleep in a ball with their limbs tucked in close to their body. Sometimes they’ll curl up like a “shrimp,” with their tail draping over their body and their nose touching their hind legs.

Dr. Margaret Gruen, DVM claims that this position protects the dog’s essential organs by keeping them tucked and hidden inside the donut. For dogs, resting in this manner can indicate that they are feeling threatened by their surroundings or that they are still adjusting to their new home. This typically happens with new pets or strays.

Dogs often prefer to take this stance when they feel chilly. They’re trying to keep warm by curling up into a ball like this. Veterinarian and ThePets Veterinary Consultant Dr. Linda Simon believes this is a common sleeping posture for dogs “when the weather is cold and/or windy, as it would have sheltered canines from the elements when they slept outside.”

5. The Cuddler

The cuddler posture is a popular sleep style for dogs and one of the cutest ways to see them doze off. The dog prefers to sleep curled up on top of you or another dog. It’s the perfect setup for dog owners who like to share their beds with their furry companions.

Meaning: “that the dog wants to come close to you or other dogs,” as described by Peter Laskay, pet expert and care writer at Petworshiper.

The veterinarians at PetMD explain that this sleep-cuddling tendency is a holdover from when your dog was a puppy and curled up with its litter to keep warm. Cuddles become a soothing routine for them as they get older.

6. The Burrower

Is your dog always looking for something soft to cuddle up with? It sounds like your dog prefers the burrower posture when they get some shut-eye.

Burrower, n.
If your dog sleeps in the “burrower position,” it’s because they’re trying to find a safe and cozy spot to doze off. Dog shirts designed to swaddle them in moderate pressure have been demonstrated to help relieve tense behaviors in dogs with anxiety condition, so burrowers may be trying to relax themselves.

Burrowing under the covers may be your dog’s way of taking a vacation from keeping watch over the house and the pack, according to veterinarian Jo Myers, DVM, who spoke with The Wildest. Your dog may be trying to achieve the same effect as a human wearing a sleep mask before bedtime by shutting out as much light and noise as possible.

7. The Belly Up

The belly-up position is exactly what it sounds like: a dog lying on its stomach. Your pet is in this position when they are lying on their back with their tummy up and their paws in the air. Despite how unnatural it may appear, when a dog is in this position, they are at their most relaxed.

The flabbergast
Some dogs prefer to sleep on their backs, with their bellies up and their paws in the air. Keeping cool is one of them. According to Jen Jones, a dog’s “belly is a source of heat and perspiration.” They are attempting to cool off by sleeping on their backs with their bellies up and paws up.

A dog’s complete faith in you and their surroundings is evidenced by the fact that they will lie on their backs with their paws in the air. According to Dr. Sarah Wooten, “you have to know that they feel extremely secure to fall asleep in this position, because they are exposing their belly and the world’s essential organs to the world.”

When a dog gets older, they could stop sleeping on their back. Professional dog trainer and owner of SpiritDog Training, Steffi Trott, says this is related to arthritis and you shouldn’t worry that your dog no longer trusts you.

8. Back to Back

When a dog prefers to sleep with their back against you or another dog, it’s because they want to cuddle and be as near to you as possible, much like the cuddler sleeping position. This is a universal symbol of comfort and affection in its most basic form.

Two in a row
Back-to-back sleeping is a physical and symbolic expression of love and closeness between partners. When a dog rests with its head on its owner’s chest, it’s a sign of trust and affection. “Dogs may prefer to sleep this manner with one person in the home they feel safest with,” says Jen Jones. Pets and other members of the family are fair game here.

9. On a Cold Surface

Dogs, when overheated, would often lie on a cold surface, such as the kitchen floor or the street. This posture might resemble either the lion’s roar or the superman pose. Whatever it is, your dog is probably positioning themselves so that their bellies are touching the ground.

At a low temperature
This orientation has a direct bearing on the temperature. Dr. Jennifer Coates warns that dogs can overheat if they lie on their bellies with their legs outstretched, increasing the amount of bare skin in contact with the cold floor or ground. If you’ve noticed your dog preferring cold floors or furniture for naps, here are some ways to help them feel more comfortable:

Activate the air conditioning or fan.
The dog would appreciate some ice water.
You should get them a cooling pad to sleep on and a frozen treat to eat.
Pamper them (if they have a long coat)
Keep them in the basement, where it will be cooler, and let them sleep there.
10. Nose and Brainstem

10. Head and Neck Raised

Some canines prefer to sleep with their necks and heads propped up. As a rule, they’ll use the edge of something soft, like the dog bed or a couch cushion, as a footstool.

Prominent craning of the neck and head
Having difficulty breathing is a common symptom of chronic heart disease and other health problems in dogs, so if you notice that your dog prefers to sleep with its head and neck elevated, this could be a sign that it needs medical attention.

Dr. Linda Simon warns dog owners to “keep a look out for troubling indications including quicker breathing rate, noisy breathing, or a reduced capacity to exercise” if their pet sleeps in this position. Be sure to consult your vet if you observe any of these conditions.

Here is a complete guide to the several ways in which your dog can sleep.

Dog Sleeping Patterns and Behaviors

Snoring, barking, or even twitching can occur in your sleeping dog. These habits when sleeping are quite natural and may even shed light on how well they are resting.

Habits of canine slumber
Do dogs dream? You bet they do! Rats, according to a study conducted at MIT, have complicated dreams during REM sleep, exactly like humans, suggesting that canines and other animals probably do as well. Even while it’s hard to find out what exactly dogs dream about, we do know that their brains digest the events of the day as they sleep. So, it’s safe to infer that their dreams are reflective of their waking activities, such as taking a stroll around the neighborhood or chasing a squirrel.
Similar to human beings, dogs may twitch while they dream or transition between stages of sleep. This occurs naturally during the course of a typical night’s sleep.
Don’t freak out if your sleeping dog barks (or squeaks). This is totally natural, and it may suggest that they are reacting to anything in their dream.
When your dog is lying on its side and its paws begin to move in unison, it may be running. As a normal reaction to a dream your dog may be having.
Like humans, not all canines are immune to snoring. Short-nosed, wide-headed breeds like pugs, bulldogs, and boxers are more likely to snore than other dogs.
Before finally drifting off to sleep, some canines will do some circling or digging in their bed. This trait, as explained by Peter Laskay, can be traced back to the canine progenitors, the wolves. According to Peter, wolves did this to “rid themselves of superfluous leaves, soil, and snow by digging to make their slumber place more pleasant.”
There’s no cause for alarm if you discover that your dog is exhibiting any of the aforementioned habits when it comes to sleep. It is common for a dog to have their own unique sleeping routine.

Puppy Sleep Habits

Puppies have their own routines for napping during the day and at night.

Puppies nap significantly more during the day than adult dogs do. They benefit from the extra rest since it gives them time to develop physically and mentally and to sort through all the new knowledge they’ve taken in. Also, your dog may take multiple naps every day. Indeed, some puppies may nap once each hour. Power naps are common and might appear out of nowhere. Puppies have a habit of dozing off whenever and whenever, sometimes even in the middle of an important training or play session.
Sleep patterns at night — When you first bring your puppy home, you may find that they have trouble sleeping. Someone who needs to get up multiple times to use the restroom, grab some water, or eat is likely to do so. Eventually, after a few months, your puppy should settle into a routine where he sleeps for a complete 10 hours every night.
Puppies, like human infants, need plenty of sleep to thrive. The best way to ensure that your dog is getting enough shut-eye is to maintain a regular bedtime routine.

How Long Do Dogs Sleep?

Here is a typical breakdown of a dog’s sleep schedule based on age:

18-20 hours a day for puppies.
Daily for dogs over the age of eight
18-20 hours a day for senior dogs.
An average adult dog will sleep for 12 to 14 hours a day. This information, however, may vary from dog to dog depending on factors such as age, exercise level, and temperament. You “will likely notice that your pup sleeps more on days they have been most active,” as Dr. Linda Simon puts it.

Veterinarian Dr. Joanna Woodnutt of DoggieDesigner says, “Dogs sleep the most between 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., although they usually enjoy daytime naps.” Depending on your dog, these snoozes could happen multiple times daily.

On the other hand, puppies have a much higher sleep requirement for growth and can sleep up to 20 hours a day. Also, senior dogs typically have less activity and require more daytime napping.

The sudden onset of excessive sleepiness or prolonged alertness in your dog should prompt you to make an appointment with the vet.

FAQs

How much time do dogs spend sleeping?

When compared to humans, dogs definitely get more shut-eye. Adult dogs sleep anywhere from eight to fourteen hours daily, but puppies and geriatric dogs sleep for as much as twenty.

Why do canines prefer to rest with their legs straight in the air?

To avoid overheating, a dog may choose to lie on its back with its legs propped up. That way, the chill can go to their midsection. Additionally, this position may indicate that they are completely at ease with you when sleeping in their bed.

In what position does a dog find the most restful sleep?

Although it depends on the dog, one of the most typical sleeping positions for canines is on their side. Dogs who assume this position typically feel at ease and secure.

Dogs seem to take great comfort in sharing your bed, but why is that?

Your dog’s preference to sleep in bed with you is a sign that he or she considers you a safe and trusted companion. When your dog was young, he or she sought solace by snuggling up to its littermates; now he or she wants to do the same with his or her human family.

Why does my dog always have to sleep with his head on my chest?

It’s a show of love when your animal pet wants to sleep in bed with you. Sometimes they need to be near to their pack mates to feel safe or warm.

What causes my dog to constantly change locations?

Dogs frequently go on walks in the middle of the night. In an effort to find a more agreeable sleeping position, they systematically burrow and circle around the bed. It’s possible that your pet is likewise looking for a more comfortable temperature zone. However, you should talk to your vet to rule out anxiety or pain if your dog is restless, pacing, and having trouble sleeping through the night.

How to Help Your Pup Get the Best Sleep

Keeping a close eye on your dog’s sleeping patterns is essential. There may be a correlation between the way someone sleeps and their overall mental and physical health.

As veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Coates puts it, “dogs who are sleeping more or less than typical, in new positions, or in new settings may be suffering from an illness or injury.” If you are worried about your dog’s sleeping patterns, it is best to consult a veterinarian.

Make sure your dog’s bed is soft and warm so he can enjoy the finest night’s rest. You can do this by providing them with a comfortable bed, their favorite toys, and a bowl of water close by.

Get a mattress protector to prevent any mishaps or spills if your dog is a cuddler and wants to sleep in bed with you.

 

 

 

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