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  • Writer's pictureVickie Foster

What Your Dog’s Sleep Behavior Means

After your pup has eaten their dog food, gotten sleepy, and laid down for a nap, have you ever wondered where they are going as they run in their sleep? What are they after? Who are they barking at as they yip in their sleep? What does a dog’s sleeping position tell you about your pup? The nocturnal mysteries of a dog’s sleep behaviors are curious and even a little strange.

Luckily, we’ve gathered some information so you can learn about your dog’s shut-eye behavior.

Sleeping Movements

Twitches, barks, yips, and paddling legs are all a clue that your dog is in a dream state. Like us, dogs' brains go into REM or rapid eye movement sleep. They begin to dream during this time. In fact, dogs try to act out what they did that day in their dreams. So a dash after the annoying squirrel may result in those twitching legs at night!

Sleep Positions

Curled up

Ever wonder why your dog curls into a ball as it sleeps. This could be because they are cold and this position saves the most body warmth. Sometimes they take this circular position when it is not cold though. This is a revolutionary remnant from when dogs lived in the wild. The curled position protects their vital organs as they sleep!

Belly up

A pup sleeping on their backs with their legs in the air is a sign that a dog trusts you. It is showing its vulnerable belly to you and alerting you that they feel safe. But it can also be trying to cool off. On many dogs, their belly is where fur is the thinnest and they have sweat glands on their paws as well. So with their belly and paws up they are radiating unwanted heat.

Splayed on the ground

A dog splayed on the ground while on its belly wants to be able to jump up right away. Often puppies with high energy and ready for action sleep this way. Puppies also tend to drop where they are into this position when too sleepy to play. Has your dog ever splayed like this?

Circling Before Sleep

If you have a dog you’ll be familiar with circling! Dogs turn in circles or scratch their bed before they lay down. This is because in ancient days their ancestors made nests and tamped down the ground in a similar way. Doing this, helped to regulate their body temperature and helped give them added protection during their sleep.

Whatever position or routine your dog has before they sleep can be a window into their behavior. Watch for it next time your pup takes a nap!


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All proceeds from Thousand Hills Pet Resort support New Life K9s. New Life K9s provides service dogs to veterans and first responders with PTSD at no cost to them.




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