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Dog sleeping positions and what they mean

Beagle dog sleeping advice

Your dog's sleeping position could mean a lot

© Shutterstock

Dogs need a lot more sleep than humans do. In fact, an average sized adult dog should sleep between 12 and 14 hours a day, while larger breeds, puppies, or seniors may need up to 20 hours of sleep a day!

By Justine Seraphin

The reason for this is that it’s harder for dogs to reach a state of deep sleep, otherwise known as the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep. As a consequence, our pooches need more sleep overall to get adequate rest.

So it goes without saying that you’ll often see your pup dozing away. But do you ever pay attention to how he sleeps? Indeed, you can learn a lot about how your dog is feeling based on the sleeping position that he adopts. And that can help you look out for him best!

Dog sleeping position #1: The Lion’s Pose

Puppy dog sleeping on his paws
The lion's pose ©Shutterstock

This position refers to when a dog is lying on his stomach and resting his head on his paws. This position means your dog is simply resting, and by no means implies a deep sleep. Dogs who lie in this position typically want to keep an eye on what’s going on around them, so don’t try to sneak anything past them...they’re definitely not sleeping!

Dog sleeping position #2: The Side Sleeper

French bulldog sleeping with teddy bear
The side sleeper ©Shutterstock

This is the most common sleeping position for dogs. Dogs may have slipped into this position after resting in the Lion’s Pose. However, unlike the previous pose, this position allows a dog to enter a deeper sleep. You’ll be able to tell if they start twitching their eye or face muscles uncontrollably. This position completely exposes your dog’s body, and therefore his vital organs. As a result, a dog that sleeps on his side like this probably trusts you and is very comfortable in his environment. Dogs that sleep in this position tend to be relaxed and easy-going in personality.

Dog sleeping position #3: The Superman

Pug dog falling asleep
The superman sleeping position ©Shutterstock

The Superman position might be the funniest dog sleeping position out there. Your dog lies stomach down and legs sprawled out on the floor, giving the impression that he’s about to take flight (hence the name)! This position can mean several things. Typically, this is an easy pose to get into and out of. So individuals that are most likely to use it are ones that are very energetic, playful, and want to be ready to jump right back up and into the action in the blink of an eye. That’s why you’ll see so many puppies plopping down into this position! However, the Superman is also often used by dogs during the warmer months of the year as it helps them to cool down. Indeed, the fur on dogs’ stomachs is much thinner than the fur on the rest of their bodies, so it’s an ideal place to expose to the coolness of the ground when it’s hot out.

Dog sleeping position #4: The Crazy Legs

Dog sleeping with legs up
The crazy legs sleeping position ©Shutterstock

Dogs in this position are usually lying on their sides or on their backs with their front and back legs sticking up in the air in various directions. Much like the Superman, this position allows the belly to cool down and is therefore a popular position for dogs who are feeling warm. On top of leaving a dog completely exposed, this may also be the hardest position to get out of. As a result, we can assume that dogs who sleep like this are exceedingly comfortable with their surroundings and trustful of those around them. Dogs who sleep like this typically don’t have a care in the world!

Dog sleeping position #5: The Doughnut

Portuguese dog sleeping a ball
The doughnut sleeping position ©Shutterstock

This refers to the curled up position some dogs sleep in. Tucking their paws under themselves, and wrapping their tails around their bodies, this position protects a dog’s throat, limbs, face, and all vital organs. As a consequence, you’ll often see this position being used by dogs who don’t feel particularly comfortable in their environment (shelter dogs, for example, tend to favour this position). However, some dogs simply adopt this position because it helps them stay warm! Indeed, wolves sleep like this in the wild to conserve body heat, so it may just be that your pup is doing the same.

Dog sleeping position #6: The Velcro Dog

Dog sleeping next to its owner
The velcro dog ©Shutterstock

You may notice that your dog likes to cuddle up close to you and/or to other members of his pack. This is a very common sleeping habit in puppies who use it to regulate their body temperatures. As a dog matures, sleeping next to another animal or a human can give them a sense of comfort all the while keeping them warm too. Cuddling releases a feel-good hormone known as oxytocin, both in us and in our pooches, so this is an optimal moment for you both to bond!
While dogs don’t usually stick to a single sleeping position, it’s important to know your pooch’s habits and preferences so that you notice any bizarre changes in their sleeping patterns if they do come up. These may indicate stress, anxiety or even pain, so make sure to keep an eye on that dreaming pup!

Does your dog sleep with you in your bed? Find out if it's good or bad