• Shelley Beyer

What Your Dog's Sleeping Position Means


One of the greatest pleasures of having pets is watching them do crazy and cute things, like sleeping in a weird position. What do those different sleeping positions mean? Like most animal behavior, there are subtle biological reasons for these instinctual poses. Read on to decode the secrets to those adorable puppy flops and curls!


On Their Side or “the Flop”


What This Means: Your dog is relaxed and comfortable, and pretty easy going.

For your dog to feel comfortable enough to sleep in this position, they have to feel safe. From a biological perspective, this position leaves vital organs exposed. Your dog may switch to a different form around strangers or in a new environment.


One thing to look out for in this position is that they leave their legs loose and free. They may be more likely to twitch and kick in this position. So make sure that there isn’t anything breakable near where your dog is sleeping.



Curled up or “the Donut”


What This Means: Your dog is either conserving body heat or feeling anxious.

There is just nothing sweeter than seeing your dog curled up like this. Dogs with thinner coats are more likely to sleep in this position because it helps them keep warm. Some dogs like to cuddle up in this position because it makes them feel less vulnerable. (This one protects all those vital organs!) Most wild canines sleep in this position.



On the Back, Paws in the Air or “Crazy Legs”


What This Means: Your dog is trying to cool off and is very comfortable and safe.

Another super adorable position! As you might expect, it is one of those positions that indicate that your dog is quite happy and comfortable. Your dog will also take this position if they are trying to cool off. Your dog's stomach tends to have less fur on the belly, and their paws have sweat glands, so they can cool off a lot easier with both of those exposed.



Sprawled Out on Tummy or “Superman”


What This Means: Your dog is just dozing, not sleeping deeply, and they’re an energetic, excitable dog!


Just like the superhero flying through the air, ready to save the day at a moment’s notice, your dog is prepared to get up in a flash. Puppies tend to sleep this way because they have a fear of missing out on everything. This pose lets them get back into the action, quick as a wink. It can also help with temperature control if the surface is cold.



Snuggled up or “Cuddle Bug”


What This Means: Your dog loves and trusts you so much that they want to cuddle up with you!


This one is pretty self-explanatory. Puppies learn to cuddle with others because they have a hard time regulating their body heat alone. The habit carries over into adulthood. Dogs cuddle with people and other animals as a show of love and trust. If the dog is cuddling with you, you’re one of the pack. Enjoy it. It’s the most trust a dog can show.



That should answer your questions about your dog's sleeping positions, especially those sprawled out ones that don't look comfortable to you. Pay attention next time you catch your dog sleeping; it may clue you in on how much your dog trusts and adores you.