Animal Information

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie (EXPERT)

The old idiom of “Let Sleeping Dogs Lie” is said to be used as a warning. The idea is to warn someone they should not talk about a bad situation that most people have already forgotten about.

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Do dogs dream when they sleep? What is their favorite position for a nap? Do they sleep in your bed?

Last week we asked the question “Do Dogs Dream?”  The answer was yes.  Now, let’s discuss more about sleeping dogs and how they lie.

What are the Favored Positions of a Sleeping Dog?

The sleeping position of your dog tells you a lot about them. Some like to sleep on their stomachs, almost like in a “down” position. This allows them to jump up at the slightest perceived threat or fact they may be missing out on what you are doing.

Others prefer sleeping on their side. This is a restful position. Your dog is comfortable with their surroundings.

Then we have the “superdog” sleeper. They choose sleeping stretched out, on their stomachs. They look like they are flying. They are in a restful sleep, but ready to go if soon as they hear you move!

Curled up, But Alert

The most inherent position for sleeping is curling up. You will see that is a favorite sleeping position of dogs kept outdoors. You will find them curled up into a ball, with their paws under their body and their tail wrapped around their face. It is the least vulnerable and least restful position for sleep. They are conserving body hear, protection their limbs, face, throat and vital organs. This position gives them the advantage to be on their feet immediately. The dog’s muscles are tense and ready to spring into action, if need be. Dogs that sleep in this position rarely relax enough to drift into the REM stage.

Curling is the normal sleeping position for wild dogs and wolves packing together. It offers a sleeping position for awareness upon awakening of their senses are heightened to movements, sounds and scents. They conserve space in the den; protect their offspring and share body heat. You will notice even most domesticated puppies inherently curl up together or around their mother.

Back Sleepers

Finally, we have what looks like the “dead roach” position. There are dogs that favor sleeping on their backs; with their legs in the air, looking just like a dead cockroach! This is the position found only in a very secure and confident indoor pet. Sleeping on their back is the most vulnerable position for a dog to sleep. It is thought to be the most comfortable and most restful position. Plus, it’s your dog’s way of cooling down quickly. Indoor dogs that have expended lots of energy and/or are over-heated will sleep on their backs.

The sleeping on their back position has not been observed as behavior exhibited by dogs or wolves in the wild. Dogs kept outdoors will not sleep in this position either. This position sends a message of vulnerability and submission.

It should be noted, dogs sleeping on their backs with their paws “protecting” their chest are indicating they prefer not to be bothered. Use caution when suddenly awakening any dog sleeping in this position!

Now that you know more about what goes on when your dog sleeps, you will have some insight about their confidence and sense of well-being. In addition, it will give you a clue of why your dog behaves the way it does, when they are awake.

In Bed With You

Bottom line: comfort equals healthier, more and deeper sleep. Whatever sleeping position your dog prefers, make sure their sleeping accommodations are safe and comfortable. A dog and the pet parent that is well rested is generally healthier and happier.

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