How Dogs Sleep: The Different Positions and Why They Prefer Certain Beds

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel sleeping

There's nothing quite as adorable as a dog sleeping. It's even more endearing when you catch Fido sleeping in a ridiculous position! But have you ever wondered why dogs sleep the way they do? And what's their favourite bed type? In this article, we will look at dogs and their sleep habits. We'll discuss the different dog sleeping positions and why they might prefer one type of bed over another.

How much sleep does a dog need?

Several factors affect how long your dog sleeps, such as their age, activity level, and health. Adult dogs will sleep an average of 12-14 hours per day. That seems like a lot of time sleeping. But most dogs tend to be reasonably active creatures and use a lot of energy during the day. It's tiring following humans around every day, you know.

Puppies will sleep even more, up to 18 hours a day! They are young, developing rapidly, and have periods of vigorous play when awake. But you'll notice that these delightful, playful pups can fall asleep at the drop of a hat.

Older dogs will sleep less, about 11 hours on average, because their energy requirements decrease as they age. They are more prone to napping during the day as their nighttime sleep may not as restful as it once was. Senior dogs or dogs with health problems will sleep even more.

Dogs' sleep patterns usually involve sleeping in short bursts (naps) throughout the day and night, with a few hours of consolidated sleep at night.

Dogs sleeping patterns

Cocker Spaniel puppy sleeping

Have you sometimes noticed your dogs' eyes may be moving underneath their eyelids in their sleep? Or they may be twitching, growing, and pedalling their feet. Are they dreaming, perhaps?

When they are in a deep sleep, dogs can be pretty energetic. It's thought dogs kick their legs, vocalise, and whimper during the REM (rapid eye movement) sleep phase. After 20 minutes into a snooze session, dogs enter REM sleep and may stay there for two or three minutes. During this period of sleep, scientists think that dogs are active because they are in the midst of a dream. What do dogs dream about, I wonder.

It's best not to wake a dog during REM sleep as it takes them a long time to get back into this phase of sleep.

While dogs sleep approximately 12 hours each day, it is seldom uninterrupted, as their makeup allows them to respond to noise or danger. It's very different from our human sleep habits. I expect we would be irritated and unhappy if we woke up every time there was a noise.

Why do dogs sleep so much?

Unlike us, who often need to push through tiredness during a busy day, dogs listen to their bodies. When they need to, they sleep.

Just like us, sleep is crucial for dogs. One of the functions of sleep is to organise random data in our human brain, which also happens for dogs. Sleep helps your dog's brain development, memory, learning ability, and immune system (the ability to fight illness and infection). When deprived of sleep, dogs and humans can experience more sickness.

How Dogs Sleep

Now that we know how long dogs sleep let's look at the different positions dogs can get into while catching some shut-eye.

Like people, dogs need a good night's sleep to be at their best during the day and maintain long-term good health. But did you know that dogs don't just sleep anywhere? They have preferences regarding where they sleep and their favourite type of bed.

When it comes to sleeping, dogs will usually choose a comfortable and safe spot. Dogs often prefer to sleep in a quiet, dark place where they feel secure. Dogs also like to sleep in a position that allows them to watch their surroundings.

Dog Sleeping Positions and what they mean

Your dog's preferred sleeping position mainly relates to temperature regulation, security, and comfort. The most common poses you'll find your dog in are:

The Lion Pose

If your dog is in a lion position, with his paws stretched out in front of him and his head resting on them, he's not in a deep sleep and is probably just dozing.

The Side Sleeper

This pose is when dogs sleep on their sides with all four legs outstretched. It's a very relaxed position and happens with comfortable and secure dogs in their environment. Dogs often start in Lion Pose and then fall into this side position as it falls into a deeper sleep.

The Superman

This position is typical for Spaniels and other small to medium-sized dogs. The Superman is when dogs sleep on their stomachs with their legs outstretched. While not completely understood, it's thought that dogs sleeping in this position are hot and need to cool down.

The Donut

When dogs curl up into a tiny ball, it's one of their most common postures. When they're not disturbed, they nearly all sleep in that manner. The Donut helps canines be as small as possible while also helping them maintain their body temperature.


The type of beds dogs like and why

dog sleeping on a bed

Now that we know the different sleep positions of dogs let's look at the type of beds they prefer. Let's start with one of the more popular types of bed for dogs: the orthopedic dog bed. Orthopedic dog beds provide dogs with extra support for their ageing and sometimes painful joints.  

Another popular type of bed for dogs is the cooling dog bed, like a bed raised off the ground to allow airflow. Cooling dog beds keep dogs comfortable during the summer months and are brilliant for dogs that get hot easily, like a Bulldog or Chow Chow.

Just like people, many dogs prefer certain types of beds over others. Some dogs like to sleep on soft beds, while others prefer to sleep on hard surfaces. Some dogs want to have their head and neck elevated, while others like to be surrounded by soft materials.

There are many reasons dogs might prefer one type of bed over another. Dogs that like to curl up in a ball may choose a soft bed that conforms to their body. Dogs that like to stretch out may prefer a hard bed to get a good night's sleep. If Fido likes their head and neck elevated may pick a bed with raised sides or a bolster. A dog that loves to be surrounded by soft materials, like a Spaniel, may choose a plush, cosy bed.

No matter what type of bed your dog prefers, it's essential to ensure that the bed is comfortable and provides adequate support. A bed that is too soft or too hard can lead to back problems or other health issues. A good rule of thumb is to find a bed that is as supportive as your dog's favourite sleeping surface (e.g., a couch or the floor).

Does a calming dog bed work

There is no scientific evidence to support calming beds for dogs. Some pet parents swear by these beds, while others feel they are a waste of money. The bottom line is that there is no right or wrong answer - it's up to you and your dog to decide whether or not a calming bed works for them.

If you're thinking of buying a calming bed for your dog, do your research first. Talk to other pet parents, read reviews, and ask your veterinarian for their opinion. And most importantly, keep an open mind and be patient - it may take a while for your dog to get used to the new bed.

The benefits of having your dog sleep with you

Did you know that more than 40% of dogs sleep with their owners? Many dogs enjoy sleeping in their owner's bed. And many owners want this too. But having your dog share your bed has its benefits and downsides.

puppy sleeping in the owners bed

In the past, people have slept with their dogs at night to get the significant health benefit of heat. Although in today's society, sleeping with pets offers several advantages too. Sleeping with dogs may help to relieve loneliness. People who co-sleep with dogs report feeling safer, less lonely, and more connected. The dog's warmth, steady heartbeat, and protective nature of dogs may make some people feel safe and secure.

The downside of having your dog sleep with you

Of course, there are a few potential drawbacks to allowing your dog into bed with you. The risk of allergy or disease transmission for both you and your pets, development of aggressive territorial behaviour, and disrupted sleep quality are just a few examples.

A recent study revealed that dog owners were four times more likely to be awoken by their pet while the animal was active (around 20% of the night) than if their pet was sleeping. If you're a light sleeper or your dog is particularly restless, this can impact your sleep quality.

If your dog is small enough to fit comfortably on the bed, there's no harm in letting them sleep with you. Just set some ground rules (e.g., no jumping on the bed, no taking up too much space). And if your dog starts to become a nuisance or become territorial with space, it's time for them to move back to their bed.

So, there you have it.

Everything you ever wanted to know about how dogs sleep (and some things you didn't): we hope this article has helped shed some light on the subject and armed you with enough information to decide what's best for your furry friend. Whether that means buying them their bed or letting them snuggle up with you in yours, we've got you covered. Check out our fantastic range of dog beds, nappers, and sleep accessories here.

1 comment

  • Really good article ❤️

    Rebecca Mcdougall

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