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11 Dog Sleeping Positions: What Do They Mean? | Purina

4 min read

You’ve probably seen your pooch peacefully sleeping in lots of different positions, but did you know that dog sleeping positions have meaning behind them? From being stretched out to curled up in a ball, it’s easy to wonder why they’re sleeping like that! 

Whether they’re sleeping in a dog bed or on the sofa, we’ve listed all the dog sleeping positions for you here so you know all about your pup’s sleeping habits. 


Dog sleeping positions and what they mean 

1. The Lion's Pose

This position is where your pup’s head is lying on top of their paws, which is why it’s also known as the sphynx. Dogs also sleep like this by tucking in their paws and resting their back legs on the side. 

Meaning: Experts suggest that when dogs sleep in the lion pose, it allows them to spring into action immediately if they need to. However, this doesn’t mean they aren’t having a good sleep! 

2. Side Sleeper

For this position, dogs lie on their side with their legs extended. You’ve probably noticed that this is one of the most popular sleeping positions for dogs. However, in the wild, leaving their belly exposed would make them quite vulnerable.  

Meaning: This position means that your dog feels safe and relaxed. It also means that your dog is in comfortable and familiar surroundings. 

3. Superman

Similar to the way Superman flies through the sky, your pooch will have their front legs stretched forward and back legs stretched behind. You might see this one a lot with energetic puppies.  

Meaning: Dogs who sleep in this position are tired but ready to play at any moment. A lot of puppies take a quick nap during their play session in this position. 

4. Cuddler Bug

We all love a cuddle! This dog sleeping position is what it says on the tin. They’ll either be cuddled up on top of a person or another dog. 

Meaning: This sleeping position is a sign of affection and bonding. It suggests that your dog wants to get closer to a person or another dog and is comfortable around them. 

5. The Donut

Here, dogs sleep curled up in a ball with their legs held close to their body. At times, their nose can even touch their back legs. The tail also curls over the body, making a tight little circle. 

Meaning: This dog sleeping position is seen in dogs who are protecting themselves from their surroundings, and is common in stray dogs and dogs who are new to their surroundings. Or it may just be a sign that your dog wants to snuggle up and keep warm! 

6. Head and Neck Raised

The head and neck raised sleeping position refers to a dog lying with its head and neck lifted and resting on the side of their dog bed or cushion. 

Meaning: This dog sleeping position usually means that your dog is just comfortable like that. However, in dogs with breathing issues this position can help them to get more air. You might want to be aware of this if your pooch seems to be unwell and particularly in brachycephalic breeds. Always seek veterinary advice if you are unsure. 

7. On Their Stomach

Dogs may sleep on their stomach when they feel hot. This position is similar to The Superman.  

Meaning: This position may mean that your dog is feeling hot and using a cool floor to help reduce their temperature. 

8. On a Cold Surface

Similar to the previous point, a dog will sleep on a cold surface to regulate their temperature. Though this will usually be on their stomach, they can sleep on a cold surface in any position to cool down.  

Meaning: Your dog might be hot, so keep an eye out for this.

Here are some ways to cool your pooch down

  • Turn on a fan 

  • Offer some cold water 

  • Get a cooling mat for them to sleep on 

  • Give them a frozen treat 

  • Get them groomed if they have a longer and thicker coat 

  • Let them sleep downstairs (as it’s likely to be cooler) 

9. The Burrower

You’ve probably seen your pooch snuggled in a blanket, pillows, or even that jacket you left on the side. Dogs with fabric draped over them are sleeping in a burrower position. 

Meaning: The Burrower position means dogs are searching for comfort and security or could be trying to calm themselves down. 

10. Belly Up

The belly-up position is where your dog is lying on their back with their legs in the air. This might look funny to us but for dogs, this is very comfortable.  

Meaning: Dogs sleeping in this position suggest that they trust you and are in a familiar environment. This position also allows maximum air passage to all the body parts. 

11. Back to Back

Similar to the Cuddler position, your pooch will place their back against the back of another dog or you. 

Meaning: Like the cuddler, this dog sleeping position shows intimacy and means that they’re displaying love and affection. 

Dog sleeping habits 

Now that you know about what different dog sleeping positions mean, check out some other sleeping habits that dogs have: 


Like humans, dogs can twitch in their sleep. This can happen between sleep stages and this is completely normal. 


Again, like us, dogs can dream! You can read all about this in our article on dog dreaming


Now we don’t mean physical running, but when your dog lying on its side (i.e. the side sleeper position), you might see that their paws are moving in unison. This could be a response to a dream. 

Barking or squeaking 

If your dog is barking or squeaking, your pooch could be reacting to something that is happening in their dream. You don’t need to worry about this – it’s essentially sleep talking! 

Digging or circling 

Some dogs will circle their bed before they lie down and might even paw at the place they want to sleep. This is normal dog behaviour.  


Snoring is most common in brachycephalic dog breeds, as unfortunately they’re known for breathing issues. If you’re concerned, always contact a vet. 

We hope you’ve learnt all about dog sleeping positions, so you can be an expert on your dog’s body language – even when they’re sleeping! Check out our article on how much space your dog needs, next.