Dogs are funny and adorable and endlessly entertaining, but have you ever wondered why they do what they do?
Take sleeping positions, for example. It’s funny when they lie sprawling on their backs with limbs everywhere and sweet when they curl up in a ball, but is there a meaning to these sleeping positions? The answer is yes, a dog’s sleeping position can give you a lot of information about them and how they are feeling!
Curled up in a ball
This is a very typical position for dogs, and for many other species of animals, and is most often used to conserve heat. This nose-to-tail pose is a cool weather pose and not necessarily a sign of insecurity.
Paws up, tummy up!
This flat on the back with legs splayed out is a pet parent favorite, especially when accompanied by gentle snoring! This is a very secure and relaxed dog, one who feels safe being exposed. Cooling is also a reason for toes to the sky as exposing the belly and paw pads allow a dog to cool off.
Just the opposite pose is the flat on the stomach pancake pose. Puppies favor this pose, sometimes because they just flop down and sometimes because they want to be ready to spring into action and play. Typically this pose is an “action” position so a dog can instantly jump to its feet and be ready for play or for defense.
Probably the most common way to sleep is the side sleeping pose. Again, this is a position where the dog is vulnerable and exposed so it is indicative of security and feeling safe. You are most likely to see your pup dreaming and running in their sleep in this position.
If your pup likes to lean his back against you or another dog while sleeping he is bonding and feeling the love. As puppies, they sleep in a pile and your dog is showing he wants some affection and feels safe and comfortable. Take it as a compliment!
Some dogs take forever to settle down and circle and dig for ages. Generally, this is a leftover from wolf ancestors who circled to make a comfy bed in grass or leaves. Circling for a short while is normal but excessive circling can indicate some discomfort from joints or possibly a neurological issue. If it seems excessive or different from his normal bedtime routine, consult your vet.
Dogs have a lot to tell us and paying attention to their sleep positions is just one of the many subtle ways they communicate how they are feeling.