Dog Behaviour Explained: The Meaning Behind Your Dog’s Sleeping Position 10 Apr 2024

Dog Behaviour Explained: The Meaning Behind Your Dog’s Sleeping Position

We’ve all witnessed our pups sleeping in the most adorable and curious positions, but one of the most common is when they curl up into a little ball. It definitely looks comfy – and their snoring would suggest that it is!

But have you ever wondered whether there’s more to it than just getting snug?

In this article:

What are Common Dog Sleeping Positions?

Does Your Dog's Sleeping Position Matter?

What Dog Bed is Best for Your Dog's Sleeping Habits?

When to Watch How Your Dog Sleeps

What Are Common Dog Sleeping Positions?

Dogs have a whole range of sleeping positions, some of them certainly funny-looking!

But they can sometimes indicate things about their mood and also about their health – here’s what they are and the possible meanings behind them…

dog sleeping infographic

#1 Curlers

Dogs who prefer to snooze while curled up in a ball or doughnut shape are often seeking additional warmth and comfort, or they just find it the most comfortable position.

This sleeping position is common for younger dogs or dogs who tend to be a bit anxious and require extra comfort when they're sleeping.

#2 Side Sleepers

If your dog's a side sleeper, it shows they're feeling safe and secure in their environment.

This position also helps them regulate body temperature, as it allows for maximum exposure to cool air or sunlight. It's a sign of comfort and relaxation, so you can rest easy knowing your dog is content.

#3 Leaners

If your dog likes to sleep with their head leaning against a cushion or the side of their dog bed, they're a leaner.

This position can be an indication of anxiety, as they may feel the need to have something supporting them while they rest. But it can also be a sign that your pup trusts you and feels comfortable in your home.

#4 Belly-Up Sleepers

If your dog sleeps on their back with all four legs in the air, they're most likely relaxed and comfortable.

Dogs who sleep in this position are showing their trust and submission to you as they're exposing their vulnerable belly.

If your furry friend adopts this position often, they feel extremely safe in their home environment.

#5 Sprawlers

Sprawlers stretch out completely, often on their belly or side, taking up a lot of space.

This position usually means they're feeling hot, seeking to cool down, or they enjoy spreading out, demonstrating a high level of comfort and confidence in their surroundings.

dog in dog bed

Does Your Dog’s Sleeping Position Matter?

In general, it doesn't matter what position your dog prefers to sleep in. As long as they're comfortable and able to get the rest they need to be healthy and happy, that’s all that really matters.

Some breeds tend to prefer certain positions due to their physical characteristics.

For example, large breeds with deep chests may find it more comfortable to sleep on their sides to avoid putting pressure on their chest. Conversely, smaller breeds and those with short legs may feel more comfortable sleeping curled up.

It's important to note that while your dog's sleeping position can provide insight into their mood and comfort level, it should not be the sole indicator of their well-being.

There are many other factors that contribute to a dog's overall health and happiness, such as diet, exercise, and regular vet check-ups.

So while it's fun to observe your furry friend's sleeping habits, make sure to also prioritise these other aspects of their care for a truly happy and healthy pup!

happy dog in dog bed

When to Watch How Your Dog Sleeps

Dogs have a range of curious behaviours that are often harmless, even if they’re a little odd. However, there are some things you should look out for when it comes to how your dog chooses to sleep.

Here are some things to consider if you’re concerned that something is wrong with your dog.

As always, seek professional veterinary care if you think your dog is seriously injured or unwell.

Have They Changed How They Sleep?

If your dog has been sleeping curled up in a ball since they were small, chances are, they just prefer this sleeping position over others and feel safe, warm, and comfortable when snoozing like this.

With that said, if your dog has always been a side sleeper and has suddenly changed their common sleeping position to a curled-up ball, it could be a sign that something has changed for them, and they're responding to that.

Simple things such as getting a new dog bed, moving the location of their bed, or changes in their home environment can be enough to make your dog feel more vulnerable and result in them sleeping in a ball.


Sleeping to Relieve Pain or Discomfort

If your dog doesn't normally sleep in a curled-up position but has started to, it might be a sign that they're experiencing discomfort of some kind.

Sleeping in a ball can make them feel less vulnerable to predators or other risks, which is necessary when they're feeling like they're unable to react like they normally would.

Other body language or signs your dog might be unwell or in pain include:

  • Shaking or shivering
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Low or no appetite
  • Increased reactivity
  • Increase in sleeping
  • Fidgeting or pacing
  • Swelling of joints or belly
  • Limping or yelping when moving


If you observe the signs in your dog, seek veterinary advice as soon as possible to detect and treat any injuries or illnesses as early as possible.

Choosing the Best Dog Bed Based on Sleeping Habits

It is still important to take note of how your pup usually sleeps so you can choose the best dog bed for them.

While dog bed size is undoubtedly important when it comes to selecting the most appropriate bed, their sleeping habits should also play a role in your decision-making process.

Dog Sleeping Position Best Bed Option
Curlers High-sided beds
Side Sleepers High-sided beds or mattress beds
Leaners High-sided beds
Belly-up Sleepers Mattress beds or vet bedding (in a crate)
Sprawlers Mattress beds (sized up)


Comfy Beds for Curlers

Dogs who sleep like this benefit from a bed that has high sides to make them feel more protected and safe while they sleep. For this type of bed, we'd recommend not sizing up from your dog's measurements to keep it extra cosy.

Our range of Cosy Dog Beds is ideal for curled-up sleepers. The high sides help them feel less vulnerable, and the comfortable balled polyester fibre filling helps them get the rest they deserve.

Shop Cosy Dog Beds

Best Dog Beds for Side Sleepers

If your dog is a side sleeper, make sure you opt for a bed that fits your dog's measurements. You don't need to size up or down.

We'd also recommend flatter beds, like our vet bedding or mattress dog beds, to give your dog more freedom to move around while they sleep.

Shop Flat Dog Beds

side sleeping dog on bed

Top Bed Choices for Leaners

Leaners need something comfortable to lean their head against, so opting for a bed with high sides is going to make your pup as comfortable as possible while they're sleeping.

Our range of high-sided dog beds is ideal for this, and they hold their shape even after many naps thanks to the finest quality ball fibre polyester filling that doesn't sag or clump.

Shop High-Sided Dog Beds

Best Belly-Up Dog Beds

For belly-up sleepers, you should opt for a bed that's one or two sizes bigger than your dog's measurements, so they can get comfortable and easily lay out flat.

For these carefree sleepers, we'd recommend opting for a mattress dog bed or vet bedding if they tend to sleep in their crate.

Shop Vet Bedding

Soft Beds for Sprawlers

We'd recommend mattress dog beds for these pups.

Opting for a bed that's a couple of sizes bigger than your dog's measurements ensures they have plenty of space to spread out and move around without the risk of falling off or having to have a paw on the cold floor all night.

Our Trojan Mattress beds are ideal for keeping your outdoor or working dog comfortable without having to worry about their bed getting wet or dirty.

For older dogs, our Senior Gold 7+ Mattresses are the perfect way to support their joints while letting them find the most comfortable position to sleep in.

Shop Trojan Dog Mattresses

dog in wool bed

Summary: The Reasons Behind Your Pup’s Sleeping Habits

Understanding your dog's sleeping habits can give you a deeper insight into their comfort and health.

Not only that, but taking note of their sleeping habits can help you make informed decisions when it comes to choosing the right dog bed for them. After all, they won’t sleep well unless they’ve got a comfy spot to rest on!

Whether your dog is a calm and relaxed belly-up sleeper or a nervous curler, we’ve got a fantastic range of premium dog beds in every shape and size. Take your pick from our full collection today!

Shop Dog Beds


Dogs often sleep close to their owners for warmth, comfort, and as a display of trust and affection. This behaviour also stems from their instincts as pack animals, where sleeping together offers protection and reinforces social bonds.

Many dogs do enjoy the extra warmth and security that a blanket provides. However, whether a dog likes being covered with a blanket can depend greatly on their individual temperament and past experiences. Some may love the snug feeling, while others might prefer not to be covered at all.

Yes, dogs can get cold at night, especially breeds with thin fur or little body fat. Providing a warm, comfortable bed or a blanket can help keep them cosy and prevent discomfort due to cold temperatures. It's important to observe your dog's preferences and provide options to ensure they are warm enough during sleep.

Many dogs do seem happier and more secure when they sleep with their owners, as it can deepen their bond and provide a sense of safety. There's also data to show that having your dog sleep in your bed with you can increase the love hormone Oxytocin for both of you.