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Summary: In this blog, we explore and explain what your dog’s sleeping position means. We’ll discuss the different positions dogs like to sleep in, the meaning behind each resting pose, and other sleeping habits. Read on to discover some of the reasons behind your dog’s sleeping position and more!
If you’re a pet parent, you may well have noticed that dogs sleep a lot more than people do! Bigger breeds of dogs tend to need longer naps than smaller ones, and if you have a puppy, they can snooze for up to 19 hours a day whilst they develop and grow!
Did you know that dog sleeping position can reveal a lot about their health and happiness? But, you can only interpret this if you know what to look for! And, their sleeping position may change depending on which area of the house they’re in, who or what they’re sleeping near, or simply their mood.
Our four-legged friends have such curious personalities, so it’s only sensical that these come out when they’re snoozing too… Why do our dogs sleep in such weird positions?
Learn about the meaning behind the positions your dog sleeps in below…
This is the most common posture that doggies adopt when they sleep: on their side, legs extended. This is a comfortable, relaxed and happy doggo! They’re clearly very trusting of their surroundings.
This position also indicates a deeper stage of sleep and it’s often, when laid like this, that dreaming occurs. If your dog likes to sleep in this position, make sure they have ample room to do so and that their bed isn’t too small.
If your dog is asleep on their front, chin resting on their paws, this is usually just your pet having a rest, rather than a full-blown snooze. They’ll either change position to move into a deeper state of sleep or they’ll get up again when they’re ready.
This is when your dog’s chin is on the floor, and their arms and legs are out: a little like a superhero! This is a position more commonly adopted by puppies, or those with high amounts of energy, who need to nap more frequently, but also want to be ready to jump back into play as soon as they’re ready!
When your dog curls up nose to tail, this makes them as small as possible which helps them keep warm. It also is quite a protective pose as their rear and head are covering their most vital organs.
This sleeping position doesn’t allow for much movement, and can mean a variety of things: they’re not as comfortable in their surroundings, they’re keeping warm (so, you may see this position more often during the colder months of the year), or they just prefer it!
The very opposite to being curled up, an exposed belly means your dog needs to cool off, so you’ll likely see this position in warmer months or if the heating’s been on.
The fur is thinner on their belly, and your dog’s paws are where their sweat glands are located, so when they expose these areas, they can cool down with more ease. But, this also means they are extremely trusting of where they’ve chosen to rest: they’re exposing the most vulnerable areas of their body in this position.
So, your dog likes to snuggle -aww! Well, as well as a sign of affection and trust, this position also provides them with a sense of comfort, security and warmth. Puppies do this with their mothers as they have more difficulty regulating their body heat when they’re very small. This behaviour tends to stick as they mature because they like it, and it’s a way of bonding.
This behaviour is very ancestral - wolves would flatten grass and leaves to make the area more comfortable. Wolves are thought to have also dug holes in colder months to sleep in for warmth and protection.
If their circling seems excessive to you, this could be a cause for concern and it’s worth getting them checked over by a vet.
Movement in your dog’s sleep is usually a sign of them dreaming - they’re in a deep sleep state when this happens and it’s good to not disturb them. Tail wagging, twitching, the odd kick of a leg and a grunt are all common behaviours.
However, a twitch can be a sign of being too cold. So if you’re cold or your house feels a bit chilly, it might be worth giving them a blanket if you see this.
Note: If the twitching is excessive or seems abnormal, this could indicate a fit or a seizure. Try to wake them by calling their name, and if they are unresponsive and continue to shake, stiffen up or excessively twitch, call an emergency vet.
When their sleep movement is more aggressive, they seem agitated or are barking whilst they’re asleep this can indicate a nightmare. That’s right - dogs can have bad dreams, just like us! If they don’t wake up themselves and seem distressed, like you would a child, offer them a soothing pet and soft call of their name to let them know you’re there. They will either wake up or stay asleep and calm down.
So, now you know what your dog’s unique sleeping positions mean! When dog’s spend such a large amount of their time sleeping, it’s good to know as a pet parent, the different positions they adopt so you can interpret their mood, temperature, health and comfortability.