Most dog owners have noticed their dog sleeping on back at least once in their life. Does it mean anything? Dogs sleep in a variety of positions. They can sleep on their side, on their back, on their stomach, rolled like a doughnut, and more.
But did you know that dog sleeping positions reveal a lot about your dog? They give you an insight into their emotional state.
Is it safe for a dog to sleep on its back?
Before we get to the meaning, let’s talk about an important issue. Some dog owners might feel scared when their dog sleeps on its back. But do not worry. It is not a problem. Yes, wolves and dogs in the wild do not sleep in this position. Why? Because sleeping on the back reveals the highly vulnerable stomach area. In the wild, dogs cannot afford to look vulnerable.
But in the home environment, dogs can often sleep on their back to show their level of comfort.
How much do dogs sleep?
Exactly how much do dogs sleep? Well, for starters, they sleep more than people. An average dog sleeps between 12 and 14 hours per day. Some breeds, like French bulldogs, for example, sleep between 20 and 22 hours per day.
Dogs tend to take longer naps than people. And bigger dogs take longer naps than smaller dogs. Puppies need between 18 and 19 hours of sleep per day.
Watch your dog while sleeping. Observe his sleeping habits and positions. If you notice a change in the amount of time he sleeps, you might want to check him out. Change in sleeping time might refer to a dietary change or a thyroid problem.
What Does it Mean?
So, what does it mean when dogs sleep on the back? Well, let’s define the position first. They lie on their back with the belly up and paws in the air. You have seen it before.
It is arguably one of the cutest dog sleeping positions. For us, this position might look uncomfortable. But for your dog, it is one of the most comfortable positions. It is a sign of true comfort and relaxation.
Dogs who sleep on their back with the tummy up and paws in the air feel as comfortable as ever. There is another reason why dogs sleep on the back. And that is to regulate their temperature. They keep their cool. Remember, dogs sweat through their paws. Their belly is a source of heat. So, when they sleep on the back, they try to keep their temperature low.
Generally speaking, when dogs sleep on their back, they trust you. They show you they have complete trust in you and the environment. When dogs sleep in this position, they expose their belly and vital organs to the world. That means they feel secure to fall asleep in the position.
One thing to remember, as your dog ages, he will sleep less and less on his back. Do not worry. That doesn’t mean he has stopped trusting you and the environment. But dogs start developing arthritis and similar problems as they age. They cannot physically sleep on their back.
Regulating his temperature
Let’s talk more about how dogs regulate their temperature. They have sweat glands in their paw pads. Unlike humans, dogs cannot regulate their body temperature through sweating. During hot, humid months of summer, dogs can easily overheat.
And they have to get creative with their temperature regulating tactics. Your dog tries to cool down by sleeping on the back.
Dogs have a thinner hair coat on the belly. And when they sleep on their back, it allows their blood to flow towards his skin where it is cooler.
Sleeping on the back allows the dog maximum paw pad exposure. Because they sweat through their pads, it allows for thermoregulation via sweating.
Most dogs overheat in hot and muggy weather. But some breeds have an even higher risk. For example, puppies and older dogs cannot regulate their temperature as well as healthy adult dogs. They have a higher risk.
As for breeds, let’s talk about brachycephalic breeds. They fall into the flat-nosed or short-nosed breeds. The list includes pugs, bulldogs, boxers, Shih-Tzu, Boston terrier, Pekingese, and similar breeds. They have a higher risk of overheating.
Some Other Dog Sleeping Positions
Besides sleeping on their back, dogs can sleep in other positions as well. Let’s take a look at some common dog sleeping positions and their meaning.
For example, a dog sleeping on the side feels safe and comfortable. He also leaves the vital organs exposed. Dogs sleeping in this position are easy-going and relaxed.
Curled up is a common dog position. They curl up in a ball, nose-to-tail. This is a common position for dogs in the wild, as it protects their vital organs and helps them to conserve warmth. It also makes it easy to get up quickly. The position restricts movement during sleep. Dogs sleeping like this do not feel uncomfortable in your surroundings. They just simply want to preserve warmth in the winter months.
Sprawled out on the tummy, or the Superman position allows your dog to pop up and stand on his paws right away. Puppies use this position to nap frequently. They want to get ready to jump and play at any moment. Dogs that sleep like this do not want to miss a chance to get in the action.
If your Dog Sleeps on His Back, You Are Lucky
Let’s finish off with a statement. Feel lucky and happy if your dog sleeps on his back. It means your dog trusts you completely. He feels totally safe and secure in your environment. This submissive position is a way of communicating as well. Dogs use it to show they do not pose a threat.
But remember, as we said before, some dogs won’t sleep like this even if they trust you. Older dogs and puppies rarely sleep on their back. Puppies sleep sprawled out on their tummy to feel ready for any action. And older dogs cannot physically sleep on their back.