Dog Sleeping Positions – And What They Mean

By helloBARK!
Updated on 28 March 2021
Expert Content

Dogs can sleep in a variety of different positions.

For instance, my Alaskan Klee Kai love to curl up in a ball or burrow in the duvet.

You won’t be surprised to learn that the different dog sleeping positions can give us an insight into our dogs.

Some positions indicate that your canine companion is feeling comfortable and relaxed, while other poses might suggest your pup is feeling anxious and seeking additional security.

In a bid to learn more about the subtly of the different dog sleeping positions, we spoke to two experts to learn more.

Amber LaRock, Licensed Vet Tech And Veterinary Consultant At CatPet.Club

• Curled up in a ball

Beagle puppy sleeps in donut position (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Beagle puppy sleeps in donut position (Photo: Adobe Stock)

This sleeping position is common in anxious pups, or those looking to preserve body heat. Protecting their belly in a curled up position is not only a way to protect their belly from the unexpected, but can also aid in keeping them warm.

This is common in dogs that are a bit unsure of their environment, or are working on building their confidence.

Some dogs may also be a curled up sleeper in the winter months, then transition to other positions when it gets warmer.

• Side sleepers

This sleeping position indicates a dog that is comfortable and content in their home. Showing their belly is a big deal for a pup, so this position indicates that they trust their humans and the animals in their home. You may also see your dog sleeping on their side in the warmer months, as this allows them to cool off easier.

• The lion’s pose

Labrador pup naps in lion's pose (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Labrador pup naps in lion’s pose (Photo: Adobe Stock)

This sleeping position is common in dogs that are very protective of their family and their home.

This position allows a dog to jump into action if they need to, while also catching some rest at the same time.

You may find your dog sleeping in this position at your feet, or even sleeping near the front door.

• Burrowing

This sleeping position is common in pups that need a bit of extra comfort and security. You may see this potion in dogs that are extremely attached to their owner, or even pups that have a hard time generating body heat. Some dogs are even burrowers during the winter months, then transition to other sleeping positions throughout the year.

• Legs splayed

If your dog sleeps with their legs splayed out, they are likely an energetic pup that is ready to play at all times. Most dogs plop into this position after engaging in fun, and will immediately spring back up if there is any interesting activity occurring around them.

• Belly up

Jack Russell sleeps on their back (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Jack Russell sleeps on their back (Photo: Adobe Stock)

This sleeping position is the ultimate sign of trust in their environment. A dog that sleeps with their belly up is often confident, loving, and secure in their home. You may also notice your dog turn to this position occasionally throughout the night, as it is a wonderful way to cool off if they are getting warm.

Sherry Morgan, Founder Of Petsolino

• Superman position

Labrador puppy sleeps in sploot position (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Labrador puppy sleeps in sploot position (Photo: Adobe Stock)

This is another funny sleeping position that will leave you puzzled and bring a warm smile to your face. In this position, you’ll see your dog sleeping on its stomach with its limb stretched out forward. What comes to your mind when you spot your dog in this position is the image of a superman. Pretty cool, right?

However, this position does not come without meaning as it is quite easy for the dog to get up on its feet. Therefore, you can only spot your dog in this position when it is taking a nap. You won’t see them sleeping like this at night.

This position is also an indication that your dog is in the mood to play and would give you a good time if you are willing to have a bit of fun.

You wouldn’t want to deprive your dog of the fun in moments like this, right?

• Laying on your clothes

Funny Shih Tzu dog resting on the bed in bedroom (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Funny Shih Tzu dog resting on the bed in bedroom (Photo: Adobe Stock)

If you are a dog parent, then you definitely know why our dogs sleep in our
clothes. This only means that they do love us so dearly that when we’re
not around, it’s our clothes that become their comfort zone. Our clothes
have our scents and dogs always want to feel closer to us.

• Circling and Digging before they get to their position to sleep

It is a usual thing for dogs to circle in the area where they sleep and even do a little digging before they eventually doze off.

From the start, dogs are known to trample down the grass in order to acquire optimal comfort as possible. They might also dig even though they are in bed in order to keep themselves warm.

Suzy Gray, BVetMed, Dip ACVIM And Guest Contributor At Honest Paws

Dogs who sleep on their sides or back are generally comfortable in their surroundings. Exposing their tummies by lying in this way means that they feel comfortable with the people and place they are in.

If you have more than one dog in your house you may notice that one dog will sleep in this way and another will not. This likely reflects their hierarchy in the family pack. Dogs may also sleep on their back or side in warmer weather to dissipate heat more easily.

As dogs age, their sleeping position may change and this may be due to discomfort from arthritis or other joint problems.

You might notice that your dog no longer curls in a ball, or prefers sleeping on one side, this may be due to underlying orthopedic problems, and if this change is accompanied by other changes in activity it might be worth making an appointment with your veterinarian.

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