Alaska Sleep Education Center

Your Dog's Sleeping Positions Explained

Posted by John Woods on Aug 19, 2020 8:43:00 AM


There is nothing cuter than a sleeping puppy or a dreaming dog! Owners will often spend their time watching their pet sleep, wondering what they are dreaming of.

However, the way your dog sleeps can provide you will a lot of information on their health status and mood. By paying a little more attention to your dog’s bedtime behavior, you can begin to understand them a little bit better.

This article covers the six most common sleeping positions your dog may find comfortable – and what they suggest about their emotions.

Very tired dog sleeping and looking sad

A note on sleeping dogs

If your dog is resting, it is important never to suddenly wake them. Even the most placid dog can respond aggressively if startled awake.

This is especially important for young children can remember, as their loud, erratic movements can be scary to some dogs.

If you must wake your sleeping dog, you can try making kissy noises or opening a treat bag – both of these things are sure to get their attention!

Curled up on Belly

This is the position most dogs will adopt when they first lie down. It is comfortable for most dogs and is how they might sleep if they are feeling unsettled or uncertain in a new environment.

In the wintertime, you may notice your dog is sleeping like this more or curled up with their nose tucked under their tail. This will be to keep your dog warm, some breeds, such as the husky, are naturally prone to sleep like this on colder days.

Side Sleeping

Side sleeping is one of the most common ways for your dog to rest. Lying to their side with their four paws stretched out is an indication that your dog feels safe and comfortable in their environment.

When dogs sleep like this it leaves their limbs free to move, so you may see their legs and/or paws twitch in their sleep.


Dogs are social animals, and so like to be close to the people they care about. If you have a multidog household, you may often find your dogs resting together like this, especially older dogs who have been together a long time, or new puppies.

If your dog likes to rest near you, this is a social behaviour that suggests they care about you. Some dogs will even spoon with their owners to show affection! Not all dogs will choose to sleep this way, some will struggle to feel comfortable with being hugged.

Back sleeping

Though it may seem impractical or uncomfortable for a dog to sleep on their back, they have a very good reason! Sleeping on their backs allows dogs to better thermoregulate. As dog’s hair is shorter on their stomachs, meaning they can cool down as they sleep.

As with side sleeping, a dog will only rest this way if they feel safe and comfortable in an environment. Consequently, you are unlikely to see your pup sleeping like this in a stranger’s home.


Sometimes called the “sploot” or “superman pose”, this pose is where a dog lies on their belly and stretches out their limbs around them.

This pose will often be seen on dogs who are looking to stretch out after a long day! The pose naturally stretches out all their joints and leaves them feeling fresh and revitalized. It is also often seen in puppies so they can be ready to jump up and join in the action at a moments notice!

However, this pose can also indicate joint issues, especially in the hips. If your older dog is sleeping like this suddenly, it may be worth chatting with your veterinarian and asking for a full health check.

Legs up, back down

This, somewhat complicated and twisty position, is where a dog will lie twisted, so that they are half on their belly, half on their back.

Depending on how they are lying, this position can indicate different things. Like just lying on their back, your pup may be trying to cool down by exposing their belly and paws to the air. Alternatively, they may be stretching as they lie down, similar to the superman pose.

However, if your dog is lying on their back with their paws over their chest, be sure to give them space. This is a subtle indicator that your dog is not feeling particularly comfortable and would like some space.


Thought it can be subtle, your dog’s sleeping position is a really nice way for them to tell you how they are feeling!

Sleeping positions where your dog is on their belly tend to indicate your dog is more unsure than those relaxed positions on your dog’s side or back.

How does your dog like to sleep? Do they have any funny sleeping positions? Let us know in the comments below.

If you aren't sleeping as well as your canine companion is, maybe you have a sleep disorder.  Call Alaska Sleep Clinic today @ 907-770-9104 for a free sleep assessment.  Improve your sleep.  Improve your life.

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Topics: pets, sleeping positions

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