Dog Sleeping Positions: What Do They Mean?

Dogs can’t communicate in the same way we do. That’s why all of their actions tend to have a deeper meaning. The way they move their tails, how they play, where they pee and even the way they sleep can tell you critical information.

In this guide, I will look at the different dog sleeping positions and what they mean. This article can help you to understand your precious pup better and accommodate his sleeping preferences. 

What Do Different Dog Sleeping Positions Mean?

Bulldog takes a nap on the floor

There’s a lot we can learn about our dogs by the way they sleep. Each pet’s sleeping position they choose has meaning and can tell you about your dog’s health and well-being. 

Here are some of the most common dog sleeping positions. 

Sleeping On The Side

This is by far the most common sleeping position in dogs. However, it is most common in puppies and older dogs with joint problems. If your pooch sleeps in this position, it can mean that he feels safe in the house and that the temperature is just right for him.

Sleeping on the side can also tell you something about your dog’s personality. Dogs that sleep in this position tend to be loyal and trusting.

This sleeping position not only means your pet feels comfortable, but it also means he is getting the necessary rest. Some vets argue that senior dogs sleeping in this position tend to get the deepest sleep. It is in this position that you will notice behaviors like twitching and side running. 

The Sphinx

Have you noticed that your dog sleeps almost in the same position as a sphinx? Well, that’s normal. This is also known as the lion pose. If your adult dog sleeps with his head over his paws, it means he is resting but ready to defend the house if needed. 

Dogs that sleep in this position tend to be protective and devoted to their owners. It can also mean that your sleeping dog does not feel completely safe in the house yet. Maybe, if he is a newly adopted furry friend, it will take some time for him to get used to living with you.

The Superman Pose

If you find your dog sleeping with his belly over the floor and his legs stretched, then he is sleeping in the superman pose. The superman pose is similar to the sphinx, but it usually means that your puppy is ready to play whenever you are. He is resting but not deeply sleeping. 

This sleeping position tends to mean that your dog is energetic and playful. It is most common in breeds like Golden Retrievers and Labradors because they tend to be more active. 

Donut Pose

The donut pose is the most common one around dogs living in the streets. Without a house, they need to keep themselves warm, but they also need to keep their bellies safe from any attack. This position protects the dog’s vital organs, something required for stray dogs.

If your dog sleeps in this position, it can mean that he is not fully used to the idea of having a home. It can also mean that he feels cold during the night, so providing a warm space to sleep can help. 

A dog that sleeps in this position tends to be anxious but caring. So, if you just adopted a dog, you can expect him to use this sleep position at night until he feels safer and more comfortable. 

Interestingly, a study found that shelter dogs are more likely to sleep in a counterclockwise donut position

Cuddling Dog

This dog sleeping position may be one of the cutest ones. If you have more than one dog, you may have noticed this. Your dog might sleep on top of another dog or be curled up against him or you. It is also possible for your dog to cuddle his favorite stuffed toy, especially if the toy is soft and comfortable. 

The cuddler position usually means that your dog has a strong bond with you or another dog and wants to be closer. Dogs that sleep in this position tend to be caring, affectionate, and loving. 

Additionally, this position can also mean that your dog feels comfortable and safe around you or another dog. 

Sleeping Under A Pillow

The burrower position is when your dog loves to sleep under pillows or blankets. This sleeping position is more common in smaller dogs that are looking to feel secure and comfortable. Some breeds like Dachshunds like to burrow because of their hunting instincts

Dogs that sleep in this position tend to be affectionate and needy. They want attention all the time if possible. They might also suffer from separation anxiety and won’t sleep unless they can feel you close. 

Belly Up

The exposed belly-up position is a funny one with a deeper meaning. If your dog sleeps with his belly up, it means that he trusts you with his life. He feels safe and secure in the house, so he is not afraid of being vulnerable. Dogs also tend to sleep belly up when they feel hot and want to cool down during the night. 

If your dog sleeps in this position, it can mean something about his personality. For instance, it can mean that he is trusting and caring and that he feels secure enough in his environment to sleep anywhere inside the house.

So, if your dog sleeps belly up, congratulations, you’ve given him security and comfort in his new home. 

Note: If your dog used to sleep belly up, but he doesn’t anymore, it doesn’t mean he feels insecure or unsafe. He may be getting older, and his joints are starting to hurt because of arthritis or other joint disorders. Take him to the vet if you suspect this possibility, and you may like to invest in a dog bed for arthritis

Back To Back

This position is quite similar to the cuddler. Your dog wants to be as close as possible to you or another dog. So he will keep his back against yours during the night or when napping. 

This position is a sign of love and trust, and you should feel happy if your dog sleeps this way. During this pose, your dog is showing you how much he loves you. 

Note: Dogs tend to choose one person or animal to sleep in this position. It usually is the person they feel the safest with, but it can also happen with other dogs and even cats. 

On Cold Surfaces

You may have noticed that your dog is sleeping with his belly against the kitchen floor. He is not trying to sleep where food is stored. He is trying to cool himself down because it is getting too hot in other parts of the house and kitchen floors tend to be tiled. These remain cool during the day and night. 

If your dog is sleeping against a cool surface, it means he is hot. So, you should try to provide a cool environment for him to sleep during the hottest months of the year. A cooling pad can also help you reduce your dog’s temperature during the night. 

With The Head And Neck Raised

If your dog is sleeping with his head raised using a cushion or the side of his bed, it usually means that he is having trouble breathing when sleeping. Dogs with breathing problems seek this position to help them through the night. 

Dogs with breathing problems tend to make noises when sleeping, like squeaking and snoring. It can also mean that he has heart-related problems, so the best thing you can do is take him to the vet. 

Contact your vet if you notice the following: 

  • A faster breathing rate
  • Noisy breathing
  • Less energy
  • A reduced ability to exercise

These symptoms are worrying because they can be telling you that your dog is suffering from a heart condition

Dog Sleeping Facts

Small puppy takes a nap on his dog bed with a toy lion by his side

How Long Do Dogs Sleep?

Adult dogs tend to sleep between 12 to 14 hours a day. Your dog will probably get his best sleeping time between 9 pm and 6 am. 

However, they can take many naps during the day, depending on their energy levels, breed, and age. The more active your dog is through the day, the more he will sleep at night. 

On the other hand, puppies need a lot more sleep than adult dogs. It is common for puppies to sleep 20 hours a day between night-time sleep and daily naps. 

What’s Normal Sleeping Behavior? 

If you pay attention to your dog’s sleeping habits, you will notice that he behaves pretty much like a human. Dogs can snore, dream, move around, squeak, and some might even run in their sleep. All of that is normal behavior for them, so you shouldn’t worry about it. 

Snoring is relatively common in brachycephalic breeds, such as Bulldogs or Pugs, due to their narrowed airways. But if your brachycephalic dog is snoring excessively, I recommend consulting with your veterinarian. Some dogs need surgical correction of their airways to allow them to breathe more comfortably.

Dr. Megan Teiber DVM

Here is what’s common for dogs to do when sleeping: 


Dogs can dream. They even tend to do it in a more vivid way than most humans. For instance, you may notice that your dog uses his nose to sniff when he is sleeping. That’s because he remembers sniffing something during the day, and he is dreaming about it. 


The truth is that dogs snore just like humans do, and they do it because of the same reasons. If your dog snores, it may be because he is having trouble with his breathing. If you are concerned, I recommend checking with your vet. 

This video can teach you more about dog snoring.

Barking or Squeaking

If some humans speak in their sleep, some dogs will bark or squeak when sleeping. Their brains do not process information the way we do, so during the night, they remember everything they did during the day. If they saw a cat or a squirrel, they might start barking in their sleep. 


No, your dog is not broken. Twitching is part of their sleeping cycle, just like it is for humans. During the night, your pup might move to make himself more comfortable. He is trying to find the proper sleeping position to get the best sleep. 

Circling or Digging 

You may have noticed that your dog digs or makes circles before lying down for a nap or to sleep. This is typical behavior, and it dates back to the dog’s ancestors: the wolves. They do this to make their sleeping place a lot more comfortable for them. 

Running Sideways

Dogs tend to remember what they did during the day when they sleep. So, if your dog had an exciting run that day, he may remember it during the night. That means his body will reenact the run while he sleeps. 

Your dog is not possessed. He is just dreaming about some happy memories. 

How To Help Your Dog Get Better Sleep?

Dogs that do not get enough sleep can get cranky and destructive. So, if you have a dog, chances are you want to give him the best possible sleep time. 

The best way to help a dog sleep better at night is to provide them with enough exercise during the day. I would not recommend heavy play immediately before bed, because they may be too stimulated to settle down for sleep.

Dr. Megan Teiber DVM

There is a lot of things that you can do, but here’s what you should consider: 

  • Temperature: One of the main things you should consider is the room’s temperature. If it’s too hot and your dog has a heavy fur coat, he will have difficulty sleeping. The same will happen if it is too cold. So, provide a suitable temperature for your dog and consider an elevated dog bed in hot climates. 
  • A dog bed: Not all dogs like to sleep on a dog bed. For instance, mine loves sleeping on the couch and will only try to chew on a dog bed. But still, providing your dog with a place to sleep is essential. You might like to check out these dog beds for different breeds. 
  • No light: Not all dogs like the dark when they sleep, but most do. Avoid leaving the lights on for your dog at night and give him a room that won’t get too bright early in the morning. 

If your older dog is restless at night, I recommend consulting with your vet to search for potential medical causes. Arthritis pain, urinary dysfunction, or canine cognitive disease are all problems that can keep an older dog up at night.

Dr. Megan Teiber DVM


Dog sleeping positions can tell you a lot about your pup’s personality and the bond between you two. If your dog has been adopted recently, he might not feel secure yet, but give him time to adjust to you and his new home. 

You should also pay attention to what he does at night. Snoring and sleeping with his head raised means he is having problems breathing. In that case, take him to the vet to see if there are any severe health issues.  

Overall, ensure he has everything he needs to have a good night’s sleep.  

All content has been reviewed for accuracy by Dr. Megan Teiber, DVM.

Kate Beveridge

Kate is an Australian writer and dog enthusiast. She can be found patting street dogs and caring for her mischievous Golden Retriever called Nala.

1 thought on “Dog Sleeping Positions: What Do They Mean?”

  1. Kaiyah Shackelford

    This is a very interesting article. I have learned so much, and it will help me for when I get a dog in the future! I would recommend everyone read more of these articles! Thank you for this helpful information.

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