Dog Sleeping Positions – What Do They Mean?

by | Jan 4, 2023 | Animal Wisdom

Dogs are interesting creatures. They may not be able to “speak” to us, but the things they do speak volumes. And that includes how they sleep.

Pull out your phone – I can bet you have at least a dozen photos of your dog sleeping. If you’re anything like me, that number is much, much higher. And if you peruse those photos, how many different ways does your pup sleep? Dog sleeping positions can tell you a lot about your dog and their preferences.

So what does it mean when they curl up, or stretch out, or snuggle right into you? Let’s dive in!

Dog Sleeping Positions

Dogs are polyphasic sleepers, which means they sleep on-and-off throughout the day, rather than in one long segment. 

These are the most common dog sleeping positions taken up by our canine companions. Of course there are numerous others (one of our dogs favours the “pretzel”), but these tend to be the most popular.

1. The Superman

This is when your dog falls asleep with their front legs extended and their back legs stretched out behind them. Picturing it, you can easily understand how it got its nickname. This position usually means relaxed, light snoozing. Despite the oddity of the position, dogs lay like this so they can spring up on their paws at a moment’s notice. You’ll often see high-energy puppies and dogs lay like this.

2. The Lion

This dog sleeping position is when your dog sleeps on their stomach with their head on their front paws. It’s similar to the Superman, except the back legs are tucked in. This position signals that your dog is in the first stage of sleep and can wake easily. They’re relaxed, but still at the ready. Once sleep gets deeper, this one usually turns into sleeping on their side.

3. The Side Sleeper

When your dog sleeps on their side they’re exposing their most vulnerable regions, so this sleeping positions means they feel safe and comfortable in their environment. This position is usually achieved during deep sleep since the muscles are relaxed and the body slumps over. 

4. The Arms Out Sleeper

Again, you’re probably picturing this one correctly – laying on their back, arms and legs up in the air (or some combination of up and down). This dog sleeping position has two meanings; either your pup feels safe in their environment or is attempting to regulate their body temperature. Since the fur on their stomachs is much thinner than their backs, if your dog is sleeping on their back they may be trying to cool down.

5. The Donut

With this one we’re talking about when your pup is curled up in a ball, often with their nose tucked into their tail. Dogs in the wild will often curl up to protect their vital organs while they sleep. Your dog may do so as well if they’re not super comfortable, or feeling a tad vulnerable. That said, some just feel comfortable in this round ball. This position also helps regulate their body temperature, conserving warmth in colder seasons. If your dog is a little chilly, they may sleep like this.

6. The Snuggler

This one is our favourite – and probably yours too! As the name suggests, it’s when your pup snuggles into you! This could be on your lap, on your feet, or just snuggled in right beside you. This position means that they love you – but more than that it means they feel safe around you, and are seeking the security your lap/feet/side offers. 

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What’s the Best Way for Your Dog to Sleep?

Our dogs are all unique, and it’s no different when it comes to how they sleep. The best sleeping position for your dog is the one that makes them feel the safest and most comfortable. And of course, depending on the situation, that position will probably change from day to day, even hour to hour.

While it may seem strange or uncomfortable to you, your pet sleeps the way they do for a reason. It could be to cool down or warm up, to feel safe, or to stay alert. Or it could just be because they want to be close to the person they love. Whatever the case may be, your dog’s sleeping position says a lot. And as the saying goes, let sleeping dogs lie (the way they like). Ok, we added that last bit, but it still holds true. If they’re comfortable, all is well.

The Adored Beast Team

Bringing you decades of animal health experience. They are product gurus, nutrition specialists, industry experts and researchers, but most importantly, pet owners, pet parents and animal lovers. The Adored Beast team is made up of people who care about the health and wellbeing of your animal family. Their fundamental goal is to provide information, advice, and experienced support you can use, each and every day, to help your pet live the longest, healthiest, happiest life possible.

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