Dog Sleep Habits And Positions: Everything Pet Owners Should Know

dog sleeping near crib

Did you know that your pup’s sleep position can say a lot about their personality? Once you discover the basics of dog sleep habits and positions, you can better serve your own four-legged friend.

We share what you need to know about dog sleep, including how long dogs sleep, what your dog’s sleep position says about them, and what dog bed is best suited for your fur baby!

Dog Sleep Basics

 dog laying under a crib where he gets his dog sleep

On average, dogs sleep about 12 to 14 hours per day. Puppies sleep about 18 to 19 hours per day with short bursts of energy in-between snooze sessions. Also, bigger dogs tend to take longer naps than smaller dogs.

Keep in mind, however, that these are average numbers. Every dog is unique!

That being said, it’s always a good idea to take your furry friend to the vet if you notice any changes in their sleep patterns, like if they’re sleeping longer during the day or if they’re not sleeping in their normal position.

Dog Sleep Positions

 dog laying on a furniture box near the stairs

The position your pup sleeps in and their sleep habits can give you clues as to how they’re feeling emotionally and physically that day. It’s important to pay attention to their most common sleep position to see what it says about your four-legged friend.

Let’s take a look!

The Lion

In the lion position, your dog’s head rests on top of their paws, kind of like they’re a lion on the lookout. However, your pup is dozing off rather than actually sleeping in this position, making it more of a transitional position.

Dogs won’t reach the deep-sleep realm lying down like a lion. Instead, lying this way prepares them to settle into their normal sleep position.


Just like humans, dogs like to lie on their sides. The only difference is that they have four paws completely stretched out!

Once your canine friend is fully relaxed, they will roll out of the lion pose and onto their side to doze off to sleep. This is a common position for naps and one that’s popular among medium to larger-sized dogs.

Leg twitching and kicking are totally normal and healthy while sleeping in this position! That just means your pup is having a dream, which indicates that they’re in a deep sleep.

Pillow beds and orthopedic beds are great options and give your side-sleeper the best support.

What It Means

When your dog sleeps on their side, it means they’re completely relaxed and comfortable. It’s a sign that your four-legged friend trusts their surroundings and most likely has a strong bond with their family.

Most dogs who sleep on their side have a laid-back and relaxed personality.


The Superman dog sleep position looks just like it sounds: your dog lies on their belly with their arms and legs stretched out. They look like Superman trying to save the day while they doze off to sleep!

Smaller breeds tend to enjoy sleeping in this position because it’s easier to jump from sleeping to playing.

What It Means

Your dog’s belly has less hair, so if they’re sleeping in the Superman position, it could mean they’re hot and trying to cool down their body.

Most pups who sleep this way are playful and full of energy. After all, they have to save the world!


Sleeping on their tummy is different from the Superman position. Instead of having their legs completely stretched out while laying on their belly, your dog will have their legs tucked under their body.

What It Means

This is not the most comfortable sleep position for dogs. If your dog is sleeping on their belly with their paws tucked under, they may not be fully relaxed and likely won’t reach the deep-sleep realm.

Pups who sleep in this position might be gentle, shy, or sweet.

dog in crib where he gets his dog sleep 

Curled Up

Curling up into a ball is a common sleep position for dogs and is also known as the donut position.

You might notice your furry friend walking around in circles before settling into this position for the night. They’re trying to make themselves as little as possible, and this position is popular with smaller dogs.

A donut dog bed is the best option for pups who like to sleep curled up. They provide the perfect shape and a cushioned sidewall to meet your dog’s sleep needs.

What It Means

Sleeping curled up could mean a few things for your pet: they’re totally relaxed and undisturbed, they’re uncomfortable, or they’re cold. This position helps keep your dog warm and comforts them.

Cuddled Up

Maybe your four-legged friend likes to snuggle up next to you (or another pet!) during the day. If so, they probably like to sleep this way at night, too.

This can be a problem if you don’t want pets in bed with you. Try giving them their own bed if you need your space, but understand that your dog might require a bit of sleep training.

What It Means

Sleeping in the cuddled-up position exposes your dog’s need for comfort. They like being next to you, so take it as a compliment!

Paws Up

It’s all hands (or paws!) on deck.

In the paws-up sleep position, your dog lies on their back with all their paws in the air. This isn’t a typical sleep position for dogs because it adds a lot of pressure to their spine and leaves them vulnerable.

Use an orthopedic dog bed to give your pup the best support while they’re sleeping and ease some of the pressure on their spine.

What It Means

Usually, dogs don’t like to be left exposed and vulnerable the way they are when sleeping in the paws-up position.

If you find your dog in this position, it means that they’re comfortable with their surroundings. They feel safe, secure, and protected.

It could also mean they’re hot. Like the Superman position, the paws-up position helps your pup cool off. As we mentioned, dog bellies have less hair than the rest of their bodies. In the paws-up position, they’re keeping their belly in the air to bring down their body temperature.

This dog sleep position is a good indicator that your pet is independent.


You’ll find this to be a common dog sleep position if you have more than one animal in your home. However, this could also mean that they like sleeping back-to-back with their human friends.

Dogs like to huddle for protection and warmth, and sleeping this way can give them exactly what they’re looking for.

What It Means

The back-to-back position has to do a lot with your dog’s ancestors, who may have been part of a pack. If it’s in their nature — and in their blood — to stick together, this is the position they lean toward when they’re sleeping.

They’re showing signs of trust and comfort when they sleep back-to-back. It may also mean that they’re loving and affectionate.

Dog Sleep Behaviors

 Dog standing up on rail of crib


We briefly touched on this earlier, but just like humans, dogs can have dreams while sleeping!

They’re most likely dreaming about what took place during the day, like when they chased a squirrel on your walk or when they ran to get the ball during your game of fetch.

The following sleep habits are signs that your dog is dreaming:

  • Twitching
  • Whimpering
  • Barking
  • Walking around in circles
  • Digging

That being said, these signs could also mean other things.


If your dog is twitching in their sleep, it could be a sign that they’re cold. Also, some dogs twitch in their sleep when transitioning into different sleep cycles.

Whimpering And Barking

While this is generally a type of reaction to what’s happening in their dream, your dog might be whimpering and barking in their sleep because they’re uncomfortable.


Not all dogs snore, but if your dog’s snoring disrupts the family at night, they might be dealing with breathing problems. It’s also important to note that some dogs with short noses are more prone to snoring.


Dozing in and out of sleep means your dog isn’t in the deep-sleep realm yet. It’s nothing to worry about!

This could also simply be a sign that your dog isn’t necessarily tired, but they’re bored. If you notice their ears perk up when they hear a sound, they might want to play or go for a walk.

Helping Your Dog Sleep Well

 dog laying on rug near crib

Armed with the knowledge we’ve shared here, you now know what’s normal and what’s not when it comes to dog sleep habits. When you take note of your furry friend’s sleep positions, it can help you learn what kind of dog they are and how to give them quality sleep.

Choose the right kind of dog bed based on your pet’s unique personality and sleep positions, and pay attention to any changes in their behavior and sleep patterns. Don’t shy away from taking them to the vet if you feel something is off.

One last tip: Try a Newton Baby Crib Mattress as a bed for your canine companion! It’s just the right size, comfy, and completely washable.

Sweet dreams, sweet pup!