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5 Dog Sleeping Positions, What They Mean, and The Best Bed for Each One

5 Dog Sleeping Positions, What They Mean, and The Best Bed for Each One

By Robert Thomas and Lindsay Millican

We all know everyone has their preferred way of sleeping. Some people prefer on their side and others on their back, and if you’ve shopped for a mattress recently, you’ve probably noticed that some beds are better suited for certain positions. Well, just like humans, each dog has its preferred way of sleeping, and we can help you find the best dog bed for their sleep style.

The way your dog prefers to sleep can say a lot about your dog. Think your dog sleeps in a funny way? Or is its sleep nothing remarkable? Either way, each position has a meaning. How your dog sleeps can give hints on its personality, mentality, and physicality.

Here we’ll cover 5 different sleeping positions so you can learn a little bit more about how your dog thinks, feels, and expresses itself. We’ll also give suggestions on what are the best dog beds to keep your pup comfortable in its preferred position.

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Five Common Types of Dog Sleeping Positions 

dog sleeping on its side

The Side Sleeper

    • Description: Your dog lies on either its left or right side with its legs extended.
    • Meaning: This is the most common sleeping position. The dog is comfortable with its surroundings because it is exposing its belly. It trusts you and its environment. Normally, dogs will start dosing off in the lion position. When their muscles relax, they slip to their side. Sometimes you can see dogs twitching to ‘sleep running’ in this position as they dream.
    • Personality: Calm, care-free, trusting, loyal, strong-bond with family
    • Dog Bed: A sofa-style bed will give your dog plenty of room to stretch out, while the bolsters provide a comfy spot for him to rest his head. If you’re in the market, bark & slumber has a large selection, so you’re sure to find one you and your pet both love.

dog sleeping in sphinx style position

The Sphinx

    • Description: Resembling the sphinx, dogs sleep with their head on their outstretched front paws and their back legs tucked close to their body.
    • Meaning: It’s common to see working dogs like Border Collies or Australian Shepherds in this pose when they are just dozing or snoozing in between play sessions. They are not in deep sleep when they are in this position. Doggies who like to sleep in this pose are inherently protective and vigilant about their family’s safety. By sleeping like this they can be ready for the action at any moment.
    • Personality: Protective, devoted, active
    • Dog Bed: A lounger-style bed like these from bark & slumber will ensure that your dog has a soft place to land when they are ready for a cat nap.

dog sleeping curled up

The Donut Curl

    • Description: The dog is curled up in a ball with all of its legs tucked close to its body.
    • Meaning: This position serves to preserve body heat and keep all vital organs protected. Dogs that are still unsure of their environment use this position to make themselves smaller and feel less vulnerable. It is especially common in dogs newly brought home or strays. In the winter months, this position can also help keep the dogs warm.
    • Personality: Caring but anxious, insecure (though happy puppies still curl up just to feel warm).
    • Dog Bed: A donut cuddler or nesting bed will be great for these dogs since it gives them that extra sense of security. We like the Round Cloud bed from bark & slumber to keep our donut doggies cozy through the night.

dog on foam lounge bed


    • Description: Your dog sleeps with its belly on the ground and its legs stretched out in front and behind it.
    • Meaning: A common position for very playful dogs, especially puppies. These dogs are always anticipating the next playtime. With this position, they can stand quickly from their slumber to get right back into the action. It also helps keep pups cool because their underbelly has less hair. If you see a dog sleeping like this on tile flooring, it could be just trying to cool off. 
    • Personality: Playful, high energy, friendly
    • Dog Bed: The bark & slumber foam lounger bed is perfect for pups that like to sprawl out, with its foam base that evenly distributes body weight.

dog sleeping on its back

Belly Up:

    • Description: The dog lies with its back to the floor and its belly to the sky. Its paws are up in the air.
    • Meaning: Dogs who sleep in this position are incredibly trusting because they are in no way hiding their belly. They feel completely at ease with their family and surroundings. This preference can also mean that they easily get hot while sleeping so they’re trying to cool off. While it might seem weird to you the way your dog’s paws hang in the air, it is completely comfortable in this position. Older dogs tend to not sleep in this position because they generally have orthopedic problems like arthritis and they might have trouble getting into this position or it might cause them pain.
    • Personality: Laid back, independent, trusting, loving
    • Dog Bed: This sleeping position is another great candidate for the bark & slumber donut bed, to keep their head comfortably elevated while they snooze.

Conclusion: Reading Your Dog’s Sleep 

How a dog sleeps can say a lot about its personality, feelings, and physical well-being.

A doggie’s preference for how it sleeps can say a lot about its personality, state of mind, and physical fitness. Each position has a meaning behind it, so by observing how your dog sleeps you can make some inferences on how it acts and how it feels about you and its environment. If you watch your pup closely, you can also determine which kind of bed type is best suited for it. Not only will it help them feel well-rested and comfortable, but the right bed can also help your dog feel safe and warm.

No matter how your dog chooses to rest and sleep, be sure to turn on DOGTV for them to view. The soothing music of DOGTV can help to lull them to sleep, too.