Watching pets sleep is one of the great joys in life, and the positions they take tells you a lot about their state of mind.  

1. Curled Ball

This sleeping position harks all the way back to the dog’s first ancestors who slept in sandy deserts. It is a dog’s natural, hard-wired instinct to dig a hole in the sand and curl up in it. This keeps it warm, out of the drafts, and protects vital organs from attack.

So when you see your dog digging and scratching on a hard surface, then turning round and round before finally curling up for a nap, look closely: that’s Doggy Eve and Adam speaking through the passage of time.

2. Side Sleeper

The curled ball sleeping position eventually moves onto the side sleeper, the default dog sleeping position if its not too cold or windy.

It takes muscles (and energy) to stay in the curled ball position, so the more relaxed the dog, the more likely it will uncurl into the side sleeper. Watch as your doggy stretches out on its side – there’s no greater sign of comfort.

3.  Legs Up In The Air

This is a dog that feels secure. So much so, you’ll see her stretching out and wriggling in an attempt to massage her own back and find an even more comfortable position.

And when she dreams, she’ll even cycle her legs as though she is running! How adorable!

4.  Superman

This is the sleeping position of a dog that’s active, playful, and ready to get up and just go. Unfortunately, doggy fell asleep while waiting to go. Awww…

5. Burrowed Under Blankets 

This last is for dogs who are allowed to sleep with their hoomans. Some dogs, like dachshunds, are natural burrowers, and will instinctively dig deep into blankets and comforters. All you will see is a snoot poking out, much like a snorkel. That’s the sign of a happy, content doggy!

The truth is, dogs adopt any and all of the positions above as they nap, just like humans change position throughout the night. Most dogs sleep 12 to 14 hours a day, and 18-20 hours for puppies, so you’ll get a chance to see a variety of sleeping positions!

* This article was updated on 8 July 2020. It first appeared in Pets Magazine, 19 May 2019.