Have you ever wondered why your dog sleeps in such an awkward position? Or have you noticed a change in the way your pup sleeps?
Just like with us, dogs can prefer sleeping in different positions, including sleeping on one side, sleeping with their paws in the air, sleeping in a cute donut shape, like a furry superman, and many more.
According to experts, we can learn a lot about the personality, the overall health, mental state, wellbeing, and the perks of your pup by the sleeping positions it prefers.
Read on to find out more about the most common dog sleeping positions and what they could tell you about your pup.
Just like with humans, side sleeping is among the most common dog sleeping positions, preferred by many pups. Side sleepers sleep lying on one side with the legs stretched forward.
It is a common sleeping position preferred by older pups that have stiff or painful joints, as well as by young puppies.
This side sleeping position usually means that the dog is feeling completely relaxed and safe and is in a comfortable environment with the right temperature.
It is the position that allows the dog to get the most restful and deepest sleep.
It is common that pups display the so-called “sleep running” and paw twitching when they are sleeping on their sides. This is usually a reaction to a dream that the dog is having, and the side sleeping position allows for freedom of the paws, so it is most obvious during this sleeping position.
The inner meaning of this dog sleeping position is that the pup is loyal and trusting and that it will happily sleep anywhere in your home but usually prefers its own bed.
Lion position sleepers
Does your pup like to sleep like a majestic Sphinx? This is also known as the “lion’s sleeping pose,” preferred by some dogs, in which they fall asleep with their front legs tucked in under their chests or protruded to the front and with the bag legs spread to one side.
This dog’s sleeping position usually means that the pup is resting but is ready to jump up any moment to protect you, play or be by your side. So, while your pup may be snoozing, chances are that it is not sleeping as deeply when it is resting like a lion.
Dogs that prefer the lion pose are believed to be highly devoted and protective of their humans.
It is common for dogs to assume this position near the door or right beside you.
Superman position sleepers
This adorable sleeping pose in which the pup is lying flat on its belly, with its back feet protruding behind the body and the front legs stretched forward, is typical for young puppies and for playful and goofy dogs.
It is not uncommon that a young and energetic puppy will simply plop down and assume the “Superman” pose during or after vigorous play.
The position means that your furry friend is tired and needs to rest but won’t mind jumping up to resume the play if an opportunity is presented.
Stomach sleeping dogs are also usually highly energetic and active ones.
Donut shape sleepers
Nothing is cuter than a pup sleeping curled up like a sweet donut. The donut sleeping position includes the pup curled in a compact ball, with all of its limbs nicely tucked under the body and with the wet nose touching the hind legs or tail.
The donut sleeping position in dogs is assumed by pups looking for added warmth and protection while resting.
It is a sleeping position that oftentimes shows that the dog is anxious but also caring. It is the sleeping position that new dogs prefer when they are still getting used to their new settings and homes. It is the sleeping pose that stray dogs often choose, again because it provides the best protection for the body, organs, and limbs while resting.
The donut position may mean that the pup is cold and is attempting to preserve the heat of its body too.
The cuddling sleeping position
If you are the lucky dog parent of a cuddler, you know this sleeping position very well. It is when your pup likes to snuggle right beside you or on top of you or with another dog, cat, or pet at home.
This adorable sleeping position means that your pup is loving and caring and that it wants to stay close to and create an even stronger bond with you or with another pet.
Most dogs love being beside their humans at all times, and what better way to do so than to snuggle right beside them when sleeping in the cuddling sleeping pose?
Plus, when sleeping in the cuddling position, your pup can stay as close to you or its friend’s body, which allows for sharing your heartbeats and falling into a deeper and more relaxing sleep.
The burrowing sleeping position
Does your dog prefer to burry itself under its or your blankets, pillows, or other bedding when snoozing? This type of sleeping position in dogs is common for pups that are looking for added safety and comfort.
It is usually a sleeping pose preferred by affectionate and needy pups.
If your furry friend likes to cover itself or its head with a blanket, then you should add a suitable blanket to its dog bed. It may also mean that it craves even more attention from you, especially when sleep time comes.
The belly up sleepers
Belly sleeping is among the cutest sleeping positions assumed by dogs of all sizes and ages. It involves the dog lying and sleeping on its back, with its belly up, and the paws up in the air as well.
While the pose can look quite uncomfortable and comic to you as a dog parent, this sleeping position means that your dog feels completely safe and comfortable at the moment.
The dogs which like to sleep with their belly up and with their paws in the air are trusting and loving pups, which are feeling absolutely safe sleeping in any position. Since sleeping in this position leaves the entire body and all vital organs of the dog exposed, it is a sign that your pup is feeling super safe in your home or wherever you happen to be.
Another reason why dogs may sleep in the belly-up sleeping position is to keep themselves cool by keeping their warm paws away from their bodies and their belly exposed to the cooler air.
Unfortunately, even the dogs that love sleeping with their legs up in the air will probably stop sleeping in this position as they age. This is not due to a lack of trust towards you but is more likely due to the common problems with arthritis and joint pain in senior dogs.
Back to back sleepers
If your pup loves sleeping back to back with you or with another family member or pet, this shows that it feels the utmost love for you or the other person or animal and wants to stay as close and cuddle as much as possible.
It is a sign of comfort, love, and affection and also brings an added feeling of security to the dog when it is resting.
Cold surface sleepers
If your dog is sleeping on a cold hard floor or another surface with its belly down, this is a clear sign that it is feeling hot. Dogs looking for the cooling effect of floor tiles or other cooler surfaces may prefer assuming the superman or the lion pose so that as much of their belly and legs are touching the colder surface.
If your dog is sleeping on the cold floor in a pose like this, you should think about cooling the air at home or check it for a fever. You should make sure there is fresh cool water nearby for your pup to help cool down if needed.
Head and neck raised sleeping position
If your pup prefers to snooze with its head and neck propped up on a cushion, armrest, the side of its bed, or another surface, this can mean that it has some sort of breathing problems.
While this is not 100% the reason for this sleeping position preference, dog parents should keep an eye on their pup if it prefers to sleep and relax with its neck and head raised from the surface. Other signs to look for are noisy or faster breathing and lowered activity levels. This can mean that the pup has some respiratory issues, heart disease, or other health problems.
General sleeping behaviors and patterns in dogs
Have you noticed that your dog twitches a lot, snores, barks, or yelps in its sleep?
Here is everything you need to know about these common dog sleeping behaviors and what they might mean for your pup’s well-being and its quality of sleep:
- Having dreams – pups dream just like us, and while it is hard to determine exactly what types of dreams they are having, studies have shown that dogs dream about recent activities and events, such as playing, going on a walk, chasing squirrels, or other dogs, and others. Other studies reveal that dogs dream very similar dreams to ours. Also, smaller dogs tend to dream more often, but larger dogs have longer dreams.
- Twitching during sleep – just like us, pups can twitch while sleeping, usually when they are dreaming or when passing from one sleep stage to another. According to scientists, it is usually the younger puppies and older dogs that twitch more, which is due to underdeveloped or less efficient pons in young or senior dogs. The pons of the brain is the body’s protective mechanism that prevents the body from physically acting out a dream, which can be dangerous and scary, both in animals and in humans.
- Barking or yelping or other sounds during sleep – is a normal sleeping behavior for dogs and usually means that your pup is reacting to a dream it is having.
- Sleep running – if your pup looks like it is running in its sleep, moving its legs, then this is probably another reaction to a particular dream it is having, and once again is perfectly normal for canines.
- Snoring – some dogs snore, and some don’t, which is just like humans. You can expect to have a loud snorer if you have a short-nosed dog like a Boxer, Pug, and Shi Tzu, Bulldog, or a similar breed. In case your dog is snoring more than usual, you may want to speak with your veterinarian just in case. Plus, using a humidifier or changing the pup’s sleeping position may help reduce the snoring.
- Digging and circling before sleeping – is another natural instinct that many dogs display. It is a behavior believed to be inherited by the wolf ancestors of dogs and is something which the wild animals do in order to make the ground or leaves more comfortable, or for making a hole in order to make themselves more comfortable when sleeping.
So, if your pup is showing one or more of these sleeping behaviors, you shouldn’t worry, because as you can see, they are pretty normal among dogs of all ages, breeds, and sizes. And each dog is different, so your pup’s sleeping habits are most likely unique as well.
Sleeping habits and behavior in puppies
Young puppies have some typical sleeping behaviors and habits when they are still young. Here are some of the typical sleeping patterns and behaviors you can expect from a puppy:
- Longer daytime sleeping – being young, active, and easily excitable, puppies tend to spend more hours sleeping during the day than adult dogs. Getting more sleep allows the young pups to grow, mature, and process the sometimes overwhelming information and emotions that they experience. Puppies can take power naps several times a day, and in some cases, your young puppy may spend time napping every hour of the day. It should not surprise you that when they are young, puppies can fall asleep in any position and place, including their dog food bowls or anywhere they happen to be when they abruptly decide to drop down to rest after play or training.
- Less sleep during the night – puppies may be quite restless during the night, especially in the first days of bringing them home. This is normal given that they have been separated from their mothers and siblings and are getting familiarized with completely new people and settings. But don’t worry if your puppy gets up to eat, pee, drink water, or moves around during the night because this type of sleeping pattern passes as the puppy matures and gets used to its new home.
In any case, you should try to maintain a regular and consistent sleeping schedule. Like human babies, puppies need to get sufficient rest and sleep to grow and develop properly.
How long should dogs sleep?
In general, you can expect a healthy adult dog to sleep for about 12 to 14 hours per day. But the time that the dog spends sleeping depends on the individual dog and its energy and activity levels, personality, age, and others. It is normal that a dog will sleep longer hours after an extra-long walk, a more vigorous play session, or on days in which it has been more active.
The normal circadian cycle of dogs is between 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., with several naps and snoozes during the day, especially in the afternoon.
Young puppies sleep much longer, and you can expect a new puppy to spend up to 20 hours sleeping every day.
You should keep an eye for any sudden or drastic changes in your dog’s sleeping regimen and speak to a vet if you see something worrying in order to rule out any health or other issues.
Ways to help improve your dog’s sleeping
Sufficient deep sleep is essential for the well-being of dogs, just as it is in humans and other animals. This is why you should make sure that your pup is getting enough sleep time if you want it to stay healthy and well.
If your dog is sleeping much more than usual or is sleeping in an awkward position, this may be a sign of an underlying health problem such as an injury or an illness. You should consult with your veterinarian if you notice something out of the ordinary in your dog’s sleeping behavior.
In order to help your dog get the sleep it needs, you should ensure that it is comfortable. This includes keeping the home or room temperature at a comfortable level and getting your pup a dog bed or other sleeping area with comfy blankets, cushions, toys, and others.
Also, always make sure that there is a bowl of fresh clean water near the dog.
In case you have a dog who loves cuddling, then make sure that it has enough space beside you for sleeping and to protect your bed with a mattress protector against accidents.