Dogs are highly expressive animals. They convey their feelings to us through their actions and body language. Dogs may communicate by shifting postures while sleeping, which can tell us a lot about them. Dog sleeping postures can reveal a dog’s personality (e.g., cuddle bug or wild legs), relationship with their owner (e.g., attached or independent), and the reasons behind a dog’s actions (e.g. digging before sleeping). Continue reading if you’re one of those pet parents who has always wondered why your dog sleeps a specific manner.
10 DOG SELLEPIN POSITIONS
Your dog may be sleeping in a posture that is unfamiliar to you. Does it have any meaning?
Dogs sleep in a variety of postures, much like people do. We may learn a lot about our furry companions by observing their sleeping patterns and postures, which range from resting on their side to sleeping on their back with their paws in the air.
Dog sleeping postures are like little cues that can reveal emotional state. We consulted doctors and expert dog trainers to uncover the meanings behind 10 typical dog sleeping postures in order to better understand canine sleeping patterns.
Check out our list of dog sleeping positions, discover the sweet significance of each one, and discover the typical sleeping positions for dogs and puppies by reading on.
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1. The Side Sleeper
Dogs prefer to sleep on their sides, much as people do. One of the most popular sleeping positions for dogs is on their side with their legs outstretched. Puppies and elderly dogs that may have tight joints seem to favor this resting position more than other dog breeds.
Meaning: When your dog sleeps on its side, it indicates that they are at ease and secure. Dogs will sleep in this posture “when they are feeling content with their environment and are at a comfortable temperature,” claims Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM, a member of the advisory board for Pup Life Today.
Additionally, it is when they are most likely to experience profound slumber. As their paws are free to roam, according to Jen Jones, a certified dog trainer, behaviorist, and creator of Your Dog Advisor, “this posture is also where you’ll commonly notice’sleep running’ and twitching throughout your dog’s dreams.”
2. The Lion’s Pose
The “lion’s posture” or “sphinx” resting position, which is similar to lion sculptures you might see outside of big buildings, has your dog sleeping with their head on top of their paws. With their rear legs at one side and their front paws tucked in, your dog can also doze off in this posture.
Meaning: When dogs sleep in this position it means they are resting, but not sleeping deeply. According to Dr. Sarah Wooten, DVM, CVJ, and the vet expert at Pumpkin Pet Insurance, “dogs will often start out in this position if they feel like they will need to jump up quickly.”
3. The Superman
The superman position is when your dog is spread out on the ground with their back legs extended behind them and their front legs stretched out in front of them. This pose, also referred to as a “sploot,” is typical of pups and energetic dogs.
Meaning: Your dog is sleepy but ready to play if the opportunity arises when they are sleeping on their stomach in the superman posture. According to Jen Jones, “this stance enables for dogs to swiftly doze off while yet being ready to jump up at a moment’s notice to play.” High energetic canines frequently snooze in this posture during the day.
4. The Donut
When your dog is sleeping in the “donut position,” all of their limbs are nestled up close to their torso. Their tail may even be draped over their body, and occasionally, their nose may touch their back legs in a “shrimp” curl.
Meaning: This posture keeps all of the dog’s important organs tucked and hidden, claims Dr. Margaret Gruen, DVM. When a dog sleeps in this posture, it either indicates that they’re still adjusting to their environment or that they’re trying to defend themselves as they sleep. This is particularly typical of puppies or stray dogs.
When dogs feel chilly, they often curl up in this manner. They try to maintain their body heat by balling themselves up. This is a common position “when the weather is cold and/or windy, since it would have sheltered dogs from the elements when they slept outside,” explains Dr. Linda Simon, a veterinarian and Veterinary Consultant for ThePets.
5. The Cuddler
The “cuddler” position is among the cutest dog napping positions. This is the time of day when your dog loves to snuggle up next to another dog or on top of you. For those who enjoy allowing their dog to lie in their bed with them, this is a terrific posture.
Meaning: Peter Laskay, a pet expert and pet care blogger at Petworshiper, says that this position is a clear sign of bonding and “that the dog wants to get close to you or other dogs.”
According to the vets at PetMD, sleep-cuddling is a leftover behavior from when your dog was a puppy and snuggled up with their litter to keep warm. When they’re older, cuddling turns into a habit of comfort.
6. The Burrower
Have you noticed that your dog seeks out pillows, clothes, or blankets to sleep under? If so, your pooch likes to sleep in the burrower position.
Meaning: Dogs who sleep in the burrower position are looking for security and comfort. Burrowers could also be trying to relax; studies have shown that dog shirts designed to gently wrap them can reduce anxious behaviors in dogs with anxiety disorders.
Burrowing beneath blankets might also be your dog’s way of taking a nice vacation from keeping a close eye on the home and the other pack members, Jo Myers, DVM, told The Wildest. Your dog may be attempting to reduce noise and light before sleeping, much as how people use sleep masks to do so.
7. The Belly Up
The belly up posture is exactly what it sounds like it is—possibly one of the loveliest canine resting positions. Your dog should be lying on its back with its tummy up and paws in the air in this position. Although it may appear unpleasant, the dog is really showing genuine contentment and relaxation in this position.
Meaning: There are several reasons why dogs like to lie on their backs with their paws and stomachs in the air. Keeping cool is one of them. According to Jen Jones, “dogs produce heat from their bellies and sweat via their paws. They are attempting to stay cool by sleeping on their backs with their paws raised and their tummy in the air.
When dogs lie on their backs with their paws in the air, it also indicates that they have complete faith in you and your surroundings because this is such a vulnerable posture to be in. According to Dr. Sarah Wooten, “since they are showing the world their bellies and their essential organs, you have to know that they feel really secure to fall asleep in this position.”
As dogs age, you’ll notice that they may no longer sleep on their back as much. According to Steffi Trott, a professional dog trainer and the owner of SpiritDog Training, this is due to arthritis and you should not assume that your dog is no longer trusting you.
8. Back to Back
Similar to the cuddler sleeping position, when a dog likes to sleep back to back, it means they like to cuddle up and get as close as possible by placing their back next to either you or another dog. In the simplest form, this position is a sign of love and comfort.
Meaning: Sleeping back to back indicates a sense of intimacy. When a dog sleeps in this position, they are showing you affection and trust. According to Jen Jones, “dogs may choose to sleep this way with one person in the home they feel safest with.” This can include additional family members or other dogs and cats. Do You Need A Pet Waste Bags? 5 New Pet Waste Bag Reviews
9. On a Cold Surface
Whether it’s lying face down on the kitchen floor or sprawled out on your pavement, dogs tend to sleep on a cold surface when they are hot. This type of position can take the form of the superman pose or could be similar to the lion’s pose. Whatever it is, your dog is likely making sure their tummy is touching the cold surface.
Meaning: Temperature plays a direct role in this position. In particular, while they’re on their stomachs with their legs extended, increasing the amount of unhaired skin that comes into contact with the chilly floor or ground, Dr. Jennifer Coates warns that dogs may be overheated if they sleep splayed out on cool surfaces. Try your best to cool your dog off with the advice below if you find them sleeping on chilly surfaces:
- Turn on a fan or the AC
- Offer the dog some cold water
- Get a cooling mat for them to sleep on
- Give them a frozen treat
- Get them groomed (if they have a long coat)
- Let them sleep downstairs, where it’s likely to be cooler
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. 5 New Pet Stroller For Outdoors & Hiking – Best For Cat & Dog
Meaning: If your dog likes to sleep in a position where their head and neck are raised, it could mean that they may have issues breathing properly — something that is commonly seen with chronic heart disease and other health problems.
According to Dr. Linda Simon, if your dog sleeps in this position “keep an eye out for worrying symptoms such as faster breathing rate, noisy breathing, or a reduced ability to exercise.” If you notice any of these symptoms, make sure to contact your veterinarian.
Sleeping habits and patterns in dogs
You may hear your dog snore, bark, or even twitch when they are sound asleep. These sleeping habits are common and might even help you determine how well they’re sleeping.
- Dreaming — Yes, dogs can dream! MIT research showed that rats experience complex dreams during REM, just like humans, so it’s likely that dogs and other animals do too. While it’s difficult to uncover exactly what dogs dream about, we know the brain processes their events of the day during sleep. So we can assume they’re dreaming of what happened during the day — like a walk around the block or chasing a squirrel.
- Twitching — Just like humans, dogs may twitch in their sleep while they are dreaming or moving between sleep stages. This is a completely normal part of the sleep cycle.
- Barking or squeaking — If your dog barks (or squeaks) during sleep, don’t panic. This is completely normal and may indicate that they’re reacting to something that’s happening in their dream.
- Running — You may notice this when your dog is sleeping on their side and their paws start to move in unison. This is typically in response to a dream your dog may be having.
- Snoring — Some dogs snore just as much as humans, but not every dog will snore. Snoring is most common in brachycephalic breeds or those with short noses and broad skulls — such as pugs, bulldogs, and boxers.
- Circling and digging — Sometimes dogs will circle or dig in their bed before lying down to sleep. According to Peter Laskay, this behavior comes from the dog’s ancestors — wolves. Peter says that wolves did this to get “rid of excess leaves, earth, and snow by digging to make their sleep area more comfortable.”
If you notice your dog exhibiting any of the above sleep patterns, there is no need to worry! Every dog’s sleeping habits will be different and are perfectly normal.
Puppy Sleep Habits
There are specific daytime and nighttime sleep habits unique to puppies.
- Daytime sleeping habits — Puppies tend to sleep a lot more than adult dogs during the day. This excessive sleeping helps them mature, grow, and process the variety of information they have learned. You may also notice your pup napping several times during the day. Some puppies may even sleep every hour. These power naps are normal and may even come out of the blue! Puppies can fall asleep in the oddest places and may even fall asleep in the middle of a training or play session.
- Nighttime sleeping habits — When you first bring your pup home, you may notice that they’re very restless at night. They may get up to go to the bathroom, get water, or eat several times. After a few months, this should stop and you will notice your pup getting around 10 full hours of sleep. Could Pets that utilization Pet Prams/Strollers Suddenly Get Lazy and Pudgy?
Just like human babies, puppies need an adequate amount of sleep so they can develop and grow properly. To make sure your pup is getting enough sleep, it’s important for them to stick to a consistent sleep schedule.
How Long Do Dogs Sleep?
On average, here’s how many hours dogs sleep by age:
- Puppies: 18-20 hours per day
- Adult dogs: 8-14 hours per day
- Senior dogs: 18-20 hours per day
Typically, adult dogs will sleep 12–14 hours a day. However, just like humans, these numbers can vary based on your dog, their age, activity level, and personality. Dr. Linda Simon says that you “will likely find that your pooch sleeps more on days they have been most active.”
According to Veterinarian Dr. Joanna Woodnutt from DoggieDesigner, “dogs sleep the most between 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., although they usually have afternoon naps.” These naps can happen several times a day depending on your dog.
Puppies, on the other hand, need significantly more sleep for their development and can even sleep up to 20 hours a day. Senior dogs also often have less energy and sleep more during the day.
If you notice that your dog starts to sleep a lot more or is staying awake longer than usual, consider scheduling a vet exam to check for any underlying issues.
How to Help Your Pup Get the Best Sleep
It’s important to always keep an eye on your dog’s sleeping habits. The position they sleep in or the amount of sleep they get each day can be little clues into how they are feeling — both mentally and physically.
Dr. Jennifer Coates says that “dogs who are sleeping more or less than normal or in new positions or locations may be suffering from an illness or injury.” It’s always a good idea to talk to your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your dog’s sleep habits.
To help your dog get the best sleep possible, make sure their sleeping environment is comfortable. You can do this by buying a dog bed they love, filling their sleep area with their favorite toys, and keeping water nearby.
If your dog is a cuddler and likes to snooze in bed beside you, make sure to get a mattress protector to safe-guard against any accidents or spills.
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