Ever noticed that your dog loves to sleep in the strangest, most uncomfortable, and funny-looking positions? Your pup is not alone! There are many attributes in a dog’s sleeping behavior that can indicate their overall mood, health, and state of mind. Some of these include the duration of their sleep, movement, frequency, and location. One such attribute is the position they are sleeping in.

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Since dogs cannot communicate with us verbally, in order to get an indication of whether your dog is happy, at ease, stressed, or ready to play, it would be helpful to observe their sleeping positions and be aware of what signs to look out for. Here are some attributes you can pay attention to when noticing your best buddy sleeping that will bring you insights regarding their well-being.

#1 “Superman, to the Rescue!”

 Puppy sleeping on a desk

One of the funnier-looking sleeping positions you may catch your doggo in is the “Superman” sleeping position when they are sprawled out on their tummy and have their front legs sticking far out. Oftentimes popular with the younger puppy crowd, this particular position is adopted by those who must nap frequently but are also ready to play at a moment’s notice. Just because they need to get some shut-eye, doesn’t mean they want to miss out on any bonding time with their favorite humans! They simply crashed because they were so tired from the last round of play. It is also frequently a sign that your little friend is hot and exhausted from running around and trying to cool down on the chilled floor tiles. This position is ideal for quick naps as opposed to long deep sleep and allows them to jump up on their feet immediately when they sense an opportunity to play, also indicating a high energy level.

#2 “OMG It’s a Dead Bug!”

 Puppy sleeping on a couch

Another amusing sleeping position that allows dogs to cool off is the “Dead Bug” position, also known as the “Dead Cockroach” and the “Overturned Table”. This position can be described as your dog lying on their back with their paws up in the air, exposing their belly and vital organs. Sleeping this way helps your furry friends cool off in the summer or after vast exercise since they are exposing their belly where the fur is thinner as well as the sweat glands on their paws. The fact that a dog is sleeping on their back also has additional meaning. This position leaves your dog vulnerable, as it leaves the sensitive parts and vital organs exposed and also takes a longer amount of time and effort to jump back up onto their feet should there be any danger close by. From this, it is easy to understand that your dog feels comfortable and safe with you, and wholeheartedly trusts you and your intentions. In the wild, this sleeping position does not typically occur and dogs do not often reach the REM state of sleep because they have to be alert and ready to face any potential threats.

#3 “On One Side” 

Dog Sleeping on his side

If you want an additional indication that your dog feels safe and loved, keep an eye out for when they sleep on their side. If your dog is sleeping on the side, flattened and resembling a “Pancake”, it is also a reassurance that your dog is feeling comfortable. Similar to the “Dead Bug”, they are leaving their vital systems exposed and are unable to get up quickly like they can when sleeping in other positions. Your dog may also find an object to smoosh themselves upon such as a wall or a chair in order to have extra support for this vulnerable position and find a protective environment that makes them feel “safe”. This position could also mean that your dog is in a deep slumber and should not be disturbed, as they are likely to reach the REM stage of sleep which is restorative. They might also be dreaming! If you notice your dog howling or kicking, you can see that your dog is in a deep sleep while physically acting out whatever is occurring in their dream or nightmare. If they wake up from this, be sure to give them a big, reassuring hug and tell them everything is ok!

#4 “Curled Up In a Bowl – I mean Ball!” 

Puppy curled up in a bowl

One of the cutest and most commonplace doggie sleeping positions is one where they are “Curled Up in a Ball” from their nose to their tail. This can also be referred to as “The Fox”, “The Bagel” or “The Snowball”. It is a position that comes naturally to all dogs, including those in the wild, as it allows them to sleep while “on watch” and remain alert. This is because rather than being exposed, remaining in such a position helps them conserve warmth, protect their sensitive areas, and allow for them to jump up from sleep quickly should there be a potential threat in the area. It also resembles a human “fetal” position and one that puppies sleep in to feel protected, so it makes perfect sense for dogs to go back to this when fearing potential predators. Being curled up in a ball does not necessarily mean that your dog does not trust you or feel safe in the environment they are in. Sometimes, in the colder time periods, this position is comfortable because it allows your dog to conserve body heat and feel snuggly. However, even if comfortable, dogs are less likely to enter the restorative REM sleep stage while curled up as their muscles are tense and they are not quite relaxed enough.  

#5 “The Spooning Position”

 Puppy's spooning

A truly precious sleeping position that I like to call “Spooning” is when your pup is either sleeping back-to-back or snuggled up against you or another pet. This resembles the human “spooning” positions where there is a “big spoon” and a “little spoon”. This position is touching as it means that your dog is ready for some love and affection, and wants to feel close to you. When a fuzzy friend initiates such a sleeping position, you can rest assured that they feel the ultimate level of comfort and this is their way of bonding with you and showing their love for whomever they are napping with and protecting them. ??  

#6 “The Sphinx”

 Dog Sphinx position

A “Sphinx” is a mythical creature with the head of a human and the body of a lion. When a dog sleeps in this position, it resembles that of the “Great Sphinx of Giza” limestone statue in Egypt, which is where the name originated. It consists of their front legs extended out in front while their rear legs are tucked underneath them. This is another position that allows for agility so that your pup can get up at a moment’s notice for a good sprint. It is not as common as some of the other sleeping positions and is unlikely to allow for deep, restorative sleep. This position may indicate that your dog does not feel quite as secure or comfortable in their surroundings, and prefers to be on call in order to lunge into action with ease. He might also have “FOMO” and wants to keep up with your whereabouts in case you have time to devote to him, so he cannot afford to miss a beat.

#7 “The Half-Moon”

 Dog sleeps in half moon position

I like to call this position “The Half Moon” as not only does the position resemble one, but it reminds me of their wolf ancestry! It has also been called “The Croissant”. Typically when sleeping on their tummy, dogs are not very relaxed due to tense muscles. Their contracted muscles will make it difficult to achieve a state of deep sleep and may be an indication that they are experiencing some anxiety. Stress makes it difficult to sleep and dogs might not be able to enter the REM stage of sleep while laying on their tummy in discomfort.   Although dogs that sleep on their tummy can be uncomfortable in their surroundings or find it difficult to adapt to new settings, they could be relaxed and happy around their family and loved ones. Also for puppies or energetic doggies, they could simply feel cozy sleeping curled up on their tummy so that they can bounce back onto their feet at any playtime opportunity. How convenient!  

“Now Let Me Sleep, Human!”

 Dog covering his eyes

Dogs like to change their positions based on their current mood, environment, and physical well-being. Stay alert and tuned into the clues your furry soulmate is trying to convey to you, to ensure your relationship is as healthy and joyous as it could be and to ensure your dog’s happiness and longevity.  

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