10 Dog Sleeping Positions And What They Mean

Dogs sleep between 8 and 14 hours per day, and puppies at least 11 hours, mostly 18-20 hours.

You may have noticed that your dog sleeps in various positions and has different behaviors, but did you know that each snooze position and behavior has a meaning?

Let’s say it short: your dog’s sleeping position can show you more about how he feels.

A dog’s sleeping habits can reveal general information about his health, happiness, and mood.

Before we continue with more details of your dog’s sleeping position and its meaning, let’s remember that if you notice unusual behavior in your dog’s sleeping habits, we recommend you visit a vet.

Dogs sleeping position can change depending on where he is sleeping or how he is feeling. 

This article breaks down 10 dog sleeping positions and explains why dogs sleep in certain positions.

After that, we’ll look deeper into dogs sleeping behaviors and their meaning.

Dogs Sleeping Positions

Curled Like A Donut

brown dog sleeping curled

Position explained: curled up in a ball, the nose near the tail, and no place within it.

That is one of the most common poses for a dog in nature because that way, he prevents all his essential organs, conserves heat, and he can get up fast if necessary.

If you see your dog lying curled up, it doesn’t mean he feels unsafe.

It can be not to freeze or feels comfortable in this position.

But dogs in new or uncertain situations also frequently choose to sleep in a donut shape.

By doing this, dogs have some control over the unknown space.

On The Side

beagle dog sleeping on side

Position explained: dog lying on the side, all four legs stretched out.

The most common sleeping position in dogs is the side sleeper.

If your dog sleeps on his side, it means he feels pretty safe in his environment and is very relaxed.

That is because he displays the vital organs, so to speak, unprotected. 

Dogs who prefer this position are generally laid-back and relaxed, though they may change positions if they are sleeping somewhere new or with someone unfamiliar.

This position allows their limbs to move freely during sleep, so a dog lying on their side may exhibit more twitching and leg kicks.

Like A Superman

brown dog sleeping on the floor

Position explained: The dog lies on its stomach, front and back legs stretched out, its back legs behind them, and its front legs stretched forward. 

Researchers aren’t sure why dogs sleep like this, but they believe it has something to do with temperature.

Dogs usually do this when they are overheated.

They are usually stretched out on a cooler surface than other surfaces.

A dog, for example, might lie in this position on a cool tile floor rather than a warm carpet or bed.

Dogs lie in this position if they want to sleep but at the same time want to be ready to play or do something.

You can see this position often in puppies and high-energy dogs. Also, this position allows your dog to get up very fast.

Lions Pose

dog laying on floor head on paws

Position explained: Head resting on top of the dog’s front paws.

From this sleeping position, dogs can get awake and get up in no time.

Your dog may nod off in lion’s pose while sitting at your feet or near the front door, where it can be close to any potential action while sneaking in a quick nap.

It is also a response to a warm environment, but it usually occurs when the surface on which the dog is lying is cooler than the air around him.”

Cuddling With You / Another Animal

woman and dog sleeping in bed

Position explained: sleeping next to you or another animal

In this position, your dog bonds with you or the other animal and wants to be close to you / the animal.

Many dogs also tend to cuddle while sleeping, a holdover from when they were puppies.

Again, this relates to temperature, as puppies have trouble regulating their body heat.

As the dogs mature, sleeping against another living thing becomes merely a learned feeling of comfort carried over from puppyhood.

It can be the case, that your dog lays on you.

This also has various reasons, including seeking comfort and security, anxiety relief, physical warmth, attention, protection, and affection.

Buried Under A Blanket Or Clothes

dog nose under a grey blanket

Position explained: your dog enjoys napping under blankets, pillows, or even fresh laundry.

Dogs who sleep in the burrower position do so in search of safety and comfort.

They also may try to calm themselves.

But it can also be a relaxing break from keeping an eye on the house and the family members.

Also, dogs can use clothes or blankets to cover their eyes, as we humans use sleep masks.

Back To Back

two dogs sleeping back to back

Position explained: lying back to back with another dog or you. That is similar to the cuddling pose.

When a dog sleeps back to back, it is similar to the cuddler sleeping position in that it wants to cuddle up and get as close to you or another dog as possible.

In its most basic form, this position represents love and comfort.

Sleeping next to each other suggests intimacy.

Dogs sleep in this position and express affection and trust in you.

On The Back, Belly Up

black dog sleeping on back

Position explained: as the name says, your dog lies on his back, belly up to the sky, and paws to the sky.

Dogs often sleep on their backs with their paws and tummies in the air for various reasons.

Keeping your composure is one of them.

Dogs may also try to stay cool by sleeping on their backs with their paws raised and their belly in the air.

Because this is such a vulnerable position, dogs sleeping that way also indicate that they completely trust you and their surroundings.

On The Tummy

beagle dog sleeping on floor

Position explained: in this pose, dogs sleep on their tummy. This position is very similar to the superman or lion pose.

When it’s hot, dogs prefer to sleep on a cold surface, whether lying face down on the kitchen floor or sprawled out on the sidewalk.

This type of position can be similar to the superman or the Lion pose.

Whatever it is, your dog’s tummy is most likely touching the cold surface.

This position indicates that the dog is overheating and is attempting to cool down by sleeping on a cold surface, such as a kitchen counter or the pavement.

Head And Neck Raised

white dog sleeping on floor head up on a pillow

Position explained: Lying with the head and neck raised on a surface

If your dog sleeps with his head and neck raised, this could indicate that they are having trouble breathing correctly, which is familiar with chronic heart disease and other health issues.

If your dog sleeps in this position, be aware of any concerning signs like a faster breathing rate, noisy breathing, or a decreased capacity for exercise.

Call your veterinarian if you notice such signs.

Dog Sleeping Behaviors

You now know more about dog sleeping positions.

When your dog is sleeping, their behavior may reveal information about the quality of their sleep.

You may notice your dog engaging in certain behaviors while they are sleeping.

These sleeping habits are regular and can provide information about the quality of sleep they are getting.

Keep an eye out for these signs and behaviors to ensure your dog gets enough rest.


Yes, dogs can dream! While it’s difficult to precisely pinpoint what dogs dream about, we know that the brain processes their day’s events during sleep.

So we can assume they’re dreaming about what they did during the day, such as going for a walk around the block or chasing a squirrel.


Don’t be alarmed if your dog barks or yelps while sleeping.

That is completely normal and could indicate that they are reacting to something in their dream.


Some dogs snore as much as humans, but not all dogs snore.

Pugs, bulldogs, and boxers are examples of breeds that snore often.


Dogs often run while sleeping when they sleep on their side.

You can see your dog’s paws or full legs moving in that situation.

Running in sleep is usually in response to your dog’s dream.


During sleep, dogs twitch.

Experts believe that dogs twitch while sleeping because they are dreaming.

If your dog is twisting and running in its sleep, there is nothing to worry about.

There is no need to be alarmed if you see one of the abovementioned behaviors in your dog.

Every dog’s sleeping habits are unique and perfectly normal.

Circling Around

It’s normal for dogs to circle the sleeping area before falling asleep.

That is a behavior inherited from dogs’ wolf ancestors.

Dogs typically circle a few times before lying down, but doing so excessively or having difficulty settling in could indicate pain.

Contact your vet if your dog starts circling more or a longer time.

dog sleeping on side on couch

There are a lot of different sleeping positions and behaviors in dogs.

As a dog lover, you must assist your beloved pet in getting a good night’s sleep.

If you notice an unusual sleeping position and unusual behavior in your dog, please get in touch with a veterinarian.

However, as you know, many different sleeping positions and behaviors are mostly harmless and normal.

Before You Go…

Now you know the different dog sleeping positions and what they mean.

If you want to learn more, read the following articles too!

Dimitra Kokologianni, DVM
Dimitra holds a Masters’s degree in public health and a Bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine. She is a versatile professional with over 7 years of experience. Her passion for animal welfare and preventive medicine makes her an excellent resource for our readers.