Decoding Your Dog’s Sleeping Habits
If your dog isn’t begging for food, scarfing down a meal or accompanying you on a walk, chances are he’s asleep.
It’s true: after all, man’s best friend sleeps an average of 12 to 14 hours a day. Since we are often around our dogs when they’re slumbering away, we can’t help but be curious about their various sleeping habits and mannerisms. If you feel this way, you’re not alone. Just scour the Internet or social media sites for “sleeping dogs” and you’ll find all sorts of humorous photos of dogs snoring, moving their paws in the night and stretching out in hilarious bedtime positions.
But is there a method to their nighttime madness?
Curling Up In a Ball
Do you ever find it funny that even though your dog has a giant plush bed, he curls himself into a little ball and takes up only one fourth of his allotted sleeping space? Have no fear; he knows what he’s doing. Experts say that this behavior dates back to when dogs lived in packs in the wild. Back in those days sleeping space was tight, and dogs had to squeeze in to fit. This was also done as a means of snuggling up and keeping themselves safe and warm, as this form of sleeping conserves body heat and protects their internal organs from predators. So while your dog knows that he’s perfectly safe sleeping at the foot of your bed or in his crate, he’s just following what his DNA is telling him to do.
An Active Sleeper
Dogs can often be very active in their sleep, moving their half-closed eyes around under their eyelids, twitching, growing and pedaling their feet. But does this mean that they are dreaming? Dogs kick their feet, vocalize and whimper during the REM (rapid eye movement) phase of sleep. REM sleep is when humans dream, and though it hasn’t yet been 100 percent confirmed (although research has led experts to believe it to be true), it’s hypothesized that dogs are active during this stage because they, too, are in the middle of a dream. It’s fun to speculate what their dreams might be by the movements they are making.
Sleeping Belly Up
If a dog opts to sleep on his back with his belly exposed, this means that he is very comfortable with his surroundings. These dogs are going against their natural instinct to protect themselves while sleeping, which means they are very bonded to their environments and feel very safe around their owners. This is often typically seen in more easygoing breeds and dogs that demand more affection from their owners.
If you’ve ever seen your dog stretched and sprawled out on the ground during rest, he’s not just going for comfort — this sleeping position often means that your pup is hot and is trying to cool off. It’s the opposite of the curled ball sleeping position, and a good barometer for the fact that your furry friend may secretly be hoping that you’ll crank up the AC!
Sleeping In Your Bed
If your pup loves to cuddle up and fall asleep with his head on your lap, you can take that to mean that he feels very bonded to you. Since dogs are pack animals that historically cozied up to fellow canines in their dens at night, they still instinctually follow the same mentality today. If your dog keeps hopping into your bed at night, it’s because he sees you as part of his pack and wants to sleep as close to you as possible. So next time your dog steals your sleeping real estate, drools on your pillow or greets you with his morning breath, remember that it’s all out of love!