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Your Dog’s Sleeping Positions and Habits tell a lot about him

Have you ever noticed your dog while he is sleeping? If not, it is time to observe the position that he sleeps in and the way he twitches and moves, as this can tell a lot about how your dog is feeling. The sleeping positions of your dog can reveal a lot about his health and happiness level. But only if you know what to look for! So, the next time you find your dog sleeping, consider noticing the following things to understand what they mean.

Two dogs, a collie and golden retriever, sleeping next to each other

Sleeping positions

You need to pay attention to the position your dog usually sleeps in. His favorite sleeping position may change based on how he is feeling, where he is sleeping, and who he is snoozing near. Moreover, injuries and soreness can also change the sleeping position of your dog, so if you notice anything unusual, look for any possible signs of pain.

Here are some common sleeping positions of dogs and what they tell you.

On the side

Sleeping on the side leaves the vital organs exposed; a dog has to feel very comfortable and safe if he does so. If your dog likes to sleep on his side, he is likely to be easy-going and relaxed. However, he may change his sleeping position when sleeping in a new place or with someone he is not familiar with. This sleeping position also allows free movement of the limbs during sleep, so you may expect more twitching and leg kicks when your dog is sleeping on his side. 

Collie relaxing on the side of his couch with his vital lungs exposed

Curled up in a ball

Many dogs like to touch their tail with their nose to curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is a common sleeping position for wild animals too, as it keeps the vital organs safe, helps conserve heat, and makes getting up easy and quick.

However, if your dog tends to curl up while sleeping, he may not necessarily be uncomfortable or insecure in his surroundings – some dogs just like to sleep like that, especially if it is winter! This sleeping position does not leave the limbs free to move, and so, you will see less twitching from a curled up dog.

The Superman position: sprawled out on the tummy

This position allows a dog to be on his feet instantly, making him able to jump up and start playing in a moment's notice – hence, called the 'Superman position.' Dogs who usually sleep in this position are very active and do not want to miss a chance to be in action. It is the favorite position of pups who are full of energy all the time or those who tend to get sleepy during the play and just want to snooze at the spot.

Paws up in the air

While curling up in a ball helps conserve warmth, sleeping on the back, and exposing the belly helps a dog cool off. Since the belly fur is thinner and the paws have sweat glands, dogs tend to expose these areas while sleeping to beat the heat in summers. However, this position makes it difficult to get up quickly and reveals the most sensitive areas, and so it indicates that the dog is super comfortable and perhaps do not have a care in the world.

Schnoodle sleeping on his back with paws up in the air to hold sweat glands and cooling off

Pitbull Sleeping on his back with all the four legs up in the air to beat the heat

Back-to-back or snuggled up

If you notice your dog sleeping back-to-back with other pets or snuggling up to you, he may be feeling very loving and affectionate. Snuggling is a way to show that he wants to bond with and get close to you. It also shows that he is very comfortable with you. If you notice your dog snuggling up, try reciprocating the love and taking a nap with your furry friend.

Golden retriever and Collie sleeping back to back with each other and snuggling up to their owner out of affection and love

Border Collie and Chocolate Lab sleeping back to back and curling up with each other for warmth and safety

Buried in toys

If you notice your dog sleeping while buried in a toy, he may be trying to tell you something. He loves his toys! Be sure to give him lots of soft plushies to take to bed.

Schnoodle cuddling with toys in bed - dog sleeping positions

dog sleeping in the middle of toys

Sleeping habits

The sleeping behaviors of dogs tend to give clues about their quality of sleep. Just like in humans, sleep is crucial for healing and repairing the body. When your pet doesn't get good sleep, you won't get good sleep!

The following signs and habits will help you make sure that your dog is getting the best sleep possible.

Digging and circling

Dogs usually like to circle their sleeping area or dig a little hole before they lay down to sleep. Digging a hole keeps them warm in winter and cool in summer. While circling a few times before laying down is normal for dogs, doing it excessively or having trouble settling in may be a red flag for arthritis or a neurological issue. Look out for these signs and consult a vet if you notice excessive circling.

Light dozing

Dogs tend to doze off during the day if they have nothing exciting to do or just for getting some rest. Light dozing does not, however, provide proper rest. Consider noticing your dog's ears if they perk up at any kind of movement or noise. If they do, it indicates that your dog is alert and is just waiting for something interesting to get up. You might want to take him for a walk in the park or play fetch to tire him out.

Tail wagging, twitching or barking softly

Twitching, wagging, leg kicks, and soft barks or grunts are common during REM sleep – these behaviors indicate your dog is getting good, deep sleep. Puppies and elder dogs, in particular, tend to move more frequently during their sleep. However, twitching may also mean that your dog is feeling cold. So, consider getting him a blanket or move him to a warmer area.

Agitation and whimpering

If your dog is moving, whimpering, or barking more than usual with signs of anxiety, he might be having a nightmare. You would want to calm him down, stroke his back, and call his name softly. He may either wake up or simply relax and continue sleeping after receiving comfort.

Border Collie twitching abnormally and showing signs of seizure disorders


Excessive twitching might be a sign of seizure – and it requires immediate medical attention.

If you notice abnormal movements, try calling your dog's name. If he responds and wakes up, it must have been a bad dream, but if he continues to shake or feel stiff, it as an emergency!

You should pay attention to your dog's usual sleeping positions and habits so that you can identify when something is unusual. These signs will help you make sure your dog sleeps properly and wakes up as fresh as ever!

Grace Fuh

Written by

Digital Marketing Specialist

Pets: I have a bunny named Henry and he spends a lot of time munching— like me!
Fun stuff: I like to make art in my free time.

Digital Marketing Specialist

Pets: I have a bunny named Henry and he spends a lot of time munching— like me!
Fun stuff: I like to make art in my free time.

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