, July 18, 2024

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Dog Sleeping Positions


  •   4 min reads
Dog Sleeping Positions
A dog doing the belly-up sleeping position. (Photo from iStock royalty-free images.)
By Mariana Burgos

Canine sleeping positions, similar to humans, display different physical and emotional states that can offer valuable information to pet owners. A comprehensive understanding of these positions can assist individuals in better understanding their dogs’ requirements and health. In Shannan Humphrey’s article titled “What Your Dog’s Sleeping Position Really Means,” the author explores the top ten sleeping positions of dogs, each providing valuable insights into a dog’s comfort, security, and personality traits.

One of the most common positions is the side sleeper. Dogs that sleep on their side with their legs extended are usually in a state of deep relaxation and trust. This position often indicates that the dog feels safe and comfortable in its environment. Side sleeping is typical among puppies and older dogs who might have stiff joints. Humphrey notes that these dogs are likely to get the deepest sleep, as evidenced by the twitching and ‘sleep running’ often observed during their dreams.

In the lion’s pose, dogs rest with their head on top of their paws, sometimes with their front paws tucked in and their back legs to one side. This position signifies a state of light rest, where the dog is not in deep slumber and can easily be vigilant if needed. Dogs that sleep in this manner are often watchful and loyal, typically selecting locations where they can maintain awareness of their surroundings, such as near their owners’ feet or by the entrance of a space.

A dog doing the cuddler sleeping position. (Photo from iStock royalty-free images.)

The prone position, where dogs lie on their belly with their legs outstretched, is frequently observed in puppies and highly active dogs. This posture indicates that the dog is fatigued but alert and prepared to engage in activity. As per Humphrey, these dogs are playful and full of energy, often adopting this position after engaging in vigorous exercise.

Dogs that curl up into a ball with their limbs tucked close to their body and sometimes draping their tail over themselves are often seeking warmth and protection. This position is common in new dogs acclimating to their environment. Humphrey explains that curling up preserves body heat and may also be a defensive posture for anxious dogs.

The cuddler position, where dogs sleep on top of their owners or another dog, is a clear expression of love and bonding. Dogs that prefer this position seek closeness and affection, indicating a strong bond with their owners or other pets. These dogs are affectionate and will do anything to sleep next to their loved ones.

Perhaps the most endearing of all is the belly-up position, where dogs lie on their back with their paws in the air. Despite its seemingly uncomfortable appearance, this position signals true comfort and relaxation. Dogs that sleep in this manner are fully trusting of their environment, as exposing their belly is a vulnerable position. Humphrey points out that this posture also helps dogs cool down since they sweat through their paws and their belly is a major source of heat.

Two dogs sleeping with the prone position. (Photo from iStock royalty-free images.)

For dogs that like to burrow under blankets or pillows, this behavior indicates a need for comfort and security. Burrowers are often affectionate but can be needy, requiring plenty of attention and affection to feel secure. Humphrey suggests adding blankets to their bed to fulfill this need.

Dogs that sleep back-to-back with their owners or other dogs are displaying a form of intimate affection and trust. This position is a sign of love and comfort, indicating that the dog feels safest with the person or pet they are sleeping next to. This behavior highlights the dog’s desire for closeness and security.

Some dogs prefer to sleep with their head and neck raised, often propping themselves up on a pillow or the side of their bed. This position could indicate breathing issues, so it’s important to monitor for symptoms like faster breathing or noisy respiration. Humphrey advises consulting a vet if these signs are present.

Finally, dogs that seek out cold surfaces to sleep on are usually trying to cool down. Whether lying on the kitchen floor or the pavement, these dogs are likely to make sure their belly is in contact with the cool surface to regulate their body temperature. Humphrey recommends ensuring these dogs have access to cool water and a way to stay cool in warm environments.

In addition to sleeping positions, Humphrey discusses various sleeping behaviors that provide further insight into a dog’s sleep quality. Dreaming in dogs is similar to humans, with their brain processing daily events during sleep. Twitching, barking, or running movements in their sleep typically occur during dreams. Snoring is common in breeds with breathing issues or short noses, such as pugs and bulldogs. Dogs may also circle or dig before settling down to sleep, a behavior thought to be instinctual, making their sleeping area more comfortable.

Understanding these sleeping positions and behaviors can deepen the bond between dogs and their owners, providing a window into the dog’s comfort and emotional state. By paying attention to how and where dogs sleep, owners can better cater to their pets’ needs, ensuring they feel secure, loved, and well-rested. As Humphrey’s comprehensive exploration into dog sleeping positions reveals, even the subtlest behaviors can offer significant insights into our furry friends’ well-being.

This article also appears in the Manila Standard


About the Author: Mariana Burgos is a freelance artist, writer, and tutor. She has been a solo parent for 17 years now because she is the wife of Jonas Burgos, a Filipino desaparecido. She and her daughter are animal lovers and are active in advocating not only human rights but the rights of animals as well.



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