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Your Dog’s Sleeping Habits Can Reveal Secrets About Their Health & Personality

| Published on January 5, 2018

Canines sleep an average of 12-14 hours a day, according to The National Sleep Foundation. And although they may be off in dreamland, you can still learn a lot about your dog by the way she dozes!

From snoozing positions, to paw twitches, to sudden changes in sleep patterns, here’s what your pup’s sleeping habits say about him or her.

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Sleeping Positions

The position that your pup is most comfortable sleeping in tells a lot about his sense of confidence, security, and his connection to instinct. Chances are, your dog sleeps in a variety of these positions, so next time he’s is taking a snooze, it might be fun to note how he’s lying and where he chose to take a nap. You may find that he feels most comfortable resuming a vulnerable position when he’s close to you.

1. Curled up


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According to Dogs Best Life this is the most common sleeping position and it’s most often observed in packs of wild dogs and wolves. When your dog is “curled up,” his paws are tucked and his tail is curved in toward his face.

This position serves multiple purposes. For dogs in the wild, it’s a way to protect their vital organs, and they can easily spring onto their feet at a moment’s notice. Additionally, they’re able to hold in body heat and keep each other warm when they’re snuggled close.

“It is the least vulnerable and least restful position for sleep,” explains Dogs Best Life. If your dog chooses to sleep like this, he may be feeling particularly protective of you. 

2. On their side


This is a much more vulnerable position, as the vital organs are exposed. This means that a side-sleeping pooch feels very safe and comfortable in her surroundings. Perhaps your dog curls up when she’s sleeping on the porch outside but rolls onto her side when she’s on the couch with you.

Dogs who sleep in this position tend to be happy-go-lucky and fiercely loyal,” explains Little Things.

3. Sprawled out on their stomach


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Dogs Best Life says that this indicates a restful snooze, but also enables them to hop up onto their feet in one second, flat! High-energy dogs and puppies who are ready to go from sleep to play in the blink of an eye may prefer this position. If your dog naps like this, he never wants to miss a beat!

4. Paws to the sky


Does your pooch simply roll on her back with her paws dangling or stretched up to the sky? This is the ultimate sign of a carefree sleeper. It’s a very vulnerable position, so your pup feels safe and confident enough to doze off this way. Also, it’s a wonderful way for a warm dog to cool off!

Dogs who assume this sleeping position usually tend to be very laid-back and have an independent streak,” says Little Things.

5. Snuggling you


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Your dog just wants to be close to you–literally! In order to bond and be reassured by your presence, your pooch may find his bliss sleeping in your lap, with his head resting on your leg, or lying with his back against yours. He wants to know where you are any time of the day or night and is also affectionately showing you how much he loves you.

If you have multiple pets, they may love to snuggle together for these same reasons!

Doggy Dreams


You may have seen a recent story in which Dr. Deirdre Barrett, Clinical and Evolutionary Psychologist, weighed in on what dogs may dream about.

In an article by People, she explains that, while we can’t know for sure, it’s very possible that dogs dream because their sleep cycles are similar to ours. Since dogs experience REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, the same stage in which humans dream, she thinks it’s likely that our pooches do, too.

So, what does she think they dream about? She said:

Humans dream about the same things they’re interested in by day, though more visually and less logically. There’s no reason to think animals are any different. Since dogs are generally extremely attached to their human owners, it’s likely your dog is dreaming of your face, your smell and of pleasing or annoying you.

AWWWW! (And as if they’d ever annoy us!)

What About Twitching During Sleep?


In short? It’s totally normal, says PetMD.

Dogs just have a lot more movement in their sleep than other species, so they’ll routinely paddle their paws and flop around a little bit with their limbs,” says veterinarian Joan Hendricks in the article.“They’re just more vigorous.”

This movement occurs during REM, which is theoretically when your pooch would be dreaming, so the two may be connected. It’s suggested not to wake your dog, because she may get startled. But if you really want to calm your canine’s twitches, gently stroke her or say her name–she may stop without even waking up.

If you’ve wondered whether your pup was having a seizure or suffering from a sleep disorder, chances are, the symptoms would be intense enough for you to know that something’s not right. PetMD explains that during seizures, “body movements tend to be faster and more pronounced” compared to a little whimpering or wagging. If you’re concerned, consult your vet.

How Much Sleep Is Too Much?


As mentioned earlier, dogs sleep an average of 12-14 hours per day, although puppies and seniors usually need more. The National Sleep Foundation mentions that big dogs (like Great Pyrenees and Saint Bernards) also tend to be lengthy snoozers. So when should your pup’s nap frequency cause concern? When there’s a sudden change. You know your dog’s “normal” habits better than anyone, so if your dog starts sleeping a ton–or barely at all–make an appointment with the vet.

“The answer could be something as simple as tweaking his diet, or as complex as treating a heart condition or thyroid problem,” the site explains.

Now do those silly sleep quirks make a little more sense? Tell us what you think in the comments below! 

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