As dog parents, we pay careful attention to the important details of our best friends’ lives – the food they eat, the treats that best motivate them, their favourite toys, and which activities light them up. But you may be surprised to find out that you can learn a lot from your dog’s sleep style!
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This post is a collaboration with Tall Tails. All opinions shared here are my own.
The way that your dog sleeps as well as where they choose to take their naps can tell you a lot about your dog’s personality. It can also help you to find and purchase the best dog bed for their preferences.
Today we’re going to look at the different ways your dog may prefer to sleep and what valuable information that reveals for you as a dog parent. Plus, I am going to share an awesome sleep-inspired contest that you should check out!
What is a Dog Sleep Style?
Our dogs sleep a good portion of the day away, but not all dogs sleep the same way. While some dogs will sprawl out in the middle of the room, taking up as much space as possible, others will curl up into a little ball or burrow into a blanket in the corner. Your dog’s sleeping position and the location that they prefer to sleep in is called their sleep style.
Next time that your dog goes to sleep, pay attention to the little details. Does your dog need to burrow in with a blanket before they can fall asleep? Do they prefer to sleep leaning against the arm of a couch or a pillow?
Keep in mind that, like humans, your dog may enjoy more than one sleeping position. While my girl Daviana usually stretches out sleeping, occupying a large space, she has been known to occasionally curl up in a small ball and snuggle in for a sleep. Especially during the cooler months when she could use a little extra warmth for a comfortable night.
When I refer to your dog’s sleep style in this article, I am referring to the different puppy sleeping positions that your best friend gravitates toward most often.
8 Most Common Dog Sleep Styles and What They Reveal
One of the most common dog sleep styles, this is seen in dogs that are completely comfortable in their home and surroundings. How do we know that?
When they are sleeping on their side, they are exposing their stomach, which is the most vulnerable area of their bodies. Anytime a dog is anxious or nervous, they will keep this delicate area safely tucked away from potential risks.
It’s not uncommon for side sleepers to start twitching or running in their sleep. Don’t worry, they are just lost in their puppy dream land!
Also referred to as the ‘sploot’ or the Superman, this dog sleep style is characterized by a dog’s ability to stretch out and take over as much space as possible with their belly still against the ground.
Sprawling is seen most often in puppies and highly playful dogs. After a heavy play session, they collapse down onto their bed for a quick recharge. But laying this way still allows them to pop back up and start playing again the moment they feel ready to.
While this is usually Daviana’s dog sleep style, she will occasionally flop onto her side. Either way, she needs ALL the room to get comfortable and she’s always up for more playtime.
Like the Sprawler, the Puppy Sphinx involves your dog sleeping with their belly against the ground. But rather than spreading out, they adopt a pose that is similar to that of the Sphinx in Ancient Egypt with their head resting on top of their paws.
Dogs that prefer the Puppy Sphinx also want to be ready to jump up in a hurry, but they tend to do this for a different reason.
These dogs are devoted, loyal, and protective – enjoying a good night’s rest while ensuring that they can still jump up and protect their ‘pack’ on a moment’s notice should the need arise.
As I previously mentioned, dogs generally want to protect their belly anytime that they are feeling nervous or unsure. So, if you notice your dog sleeping belly up with their legs in the air, they trust you completely.
Your dog feels safe and secure in their surroundings. They may also be looking to cool down and regulate their body temperature by exposing their belly to the cooler air.
Some dogs are happiest when they are sleeping snuggled up with others. This could include cuddling you, other family members, or pets.
This dog sleep style a sign of love and devotion to the one that they are cuddling as well as a great bonding opportunity. They may also be curling up with you because you make them feel safe and secure.
If they are forced to take a nap on their own, they make seek comfort in cuddling up with a plush dog toy, a soft pillow, or a cozy dog blanket.
Without question, this is the top dog sleep style for little man Lucifer. If he’s not cuddled up with me (his favourite place to sleep) he can be found snuggling one of the other pets or his favourite toys.
Whether your dog is looking for warmth, comfort, or the security offered by a den setting, the burrower dog sleep style is an easy one to spot. These dogs will nestle themselves into anything they can find including blankets, pillows, or even your laundry.
You may notice your dog seeking a spot snuggled in their favourite blankets if the temperatures have dropped for the same reason that we enjoy curling up under a cozy blanket.
This is also the ideal sleeping opportunity for dogs that are highly sensitive to outside stimuli like noise and light. If you have a highly anxious dog, burrowing under a blanket may help to calm their nerves and allow them to calm down.
Curling up into a small ball with their nose tucked in under their tail, dogs that prefer this sleep style are interested in feeling safe and warm while they are sleeping.
The pose is often seen in wild dogs during the winter months. By taking up as little space as possible, they can conserve warmth. Dogs with bushier tails may use their tail to keep their nose or front paws protected.
Dogs may also choose this sleep style if they are feeling anxious as it allows them to protect their belly (and their organs) from any predators in the area.
Unlike the other options on this list, this is a dog sleep style can also be described as another sleep style. The difference is that they incorporate some sort of prop into their sleep routine.
Your dog may like to sprawl out on their side while using a pillow to prop up their head. Another example would be if your dog sleeps curled up in a ball while leaning against the arm of the couch or another piece of furniture.
In many cases, your dog is just getting comfortable but pay close attention if they suddenly start to prop up their head or neck. This could be a sign of a breathing problem that needs to be addressed.
This dog sleep style is the reason why Indiana often prefers sleeping on our couch. Propping himself up against the arms of the couch gives him the support he craves. He’s also been known to use pillows, boots, larger dog toys, the baseboard heaters in our living room, or any other surface he can find.
What is the Best Dog Bed Style for My Dog?
Now that you understand your dog’s sleep style, you can use this information to purchase the best bed to suit their needs. This means selecting a bed that will allow them to sleep the way that they love best while also offering the perks that they search for.
For some dogs, this means an open area to sprawl while others would love nothing more than snuggling into a den-like experience.
Other things to consider include your dog’s size and their age. Senior dogs need a little more support and often do better with a bed that sits a little higher so that they don’t have to get down onto the ground.
Using our new Tall Tails beds as an example, here are some recommendations for choosing the best bed based on your dog’s sleep style.
Side sleepers and belly sleepers that like stretching out while they sleep need a bed that will provide them with more space. It’s not uncommon for these dogs to pass over a smaller, more restrictive bed and sleep instead on the floor to get the stretching room that they desire.
These dogs are more comfortable with a flatter sleeping mat or bed like the Dream Chaser Cushion Bed or for an indoor/outdoor solution, the K9 Cot Elevated Dog Bed.
As I mentioned previously, a bed that sits higher off the ground is the ideal solution for a senior dog. Add a cozy blanket or padded sleeping mat to the K9 Cot Elevated Dog Bed to create a comfortable and senior-friendly sleeping option.
On the other end of the spectrum are the dogs that prefer to snuggle in, burrow and cuddle up. These dogs enjoy the security and comfort of feeling like they are in a traditional den. This category of dogs also includes those that prefer to snuggle up against a pillow or arm of the couch for support and a head rest.
For these dogs, the Dream Chaser Bolster Bed or the Dream Chaser Donut Bed are the ideal option.
Consider adding a blanket to provide additional burrowing opportunities or place your dog’s favourite stuffed animals in the bed if they are a cuddler. Our boy Lucifer never falls asleep with cuddling one of us, one of the other pets, or a stuffed animal.
Bedtime Habits and Routines
Many dogs have rituals our routines that they will go through before falling asleep. This could include circling, burrowing, digging, or other movements to prepare their chosen space for sleeping before settling in.
These behaviors date back to their ancestors sleeping in the wild. Wolves and wild dogs would often need to clear a space to sleep by moving leaves, snow, dirt, and other debris. They may also need to flatten tall grass or vegetation.
When your dog is going to sleep indoors in their bed, they clearly don’t need to clear a sleeping spot.
Some dogs will settle in and doze off quickly without the need for any additional preparation. I can’t think of a time that our boy Indy put any effort into setting up his space. He will sleep on top of anything without a second thought and falls asleep in mere seconds.
However, both Lucifer and Daviana have bedtime routines that make us smile and laugh a little.
Daviana circles before laying down every time. Lucifer’s bedtime routine is much more in depth. He needs to have the ‘perfect’ sleeping spot, focusing on moving blankets by digging or grabbing them in his mouth to arrange things the way he wants before snuggling in.
How to Get a Dog to Sleep in His Bed
When you first introduce your dog to their new dog bed, they may not show too much interest. This can be frustrating if you have invested in something extra special for your pup. But it doesn’t mean that they won’t learn how comfortable their new bed can be.
The first thing that you should do is take a step back and consider why your dog may not want to lay down on their bed.
If you have placed the bed in a busy area where there is a lot of noise or traffic, the activity may prevent your dog from being able to settle in. This is often remedied easily by moving your dog’s ‘sleep spot’ somewhere quieter.
Dogs that have just moved to a new home, either because you have moved or because you just adopted the dog, may be feeling anxious. Try giving your dog time to adjust and decompress.
In the rescue world, we refer to this as the 3-3-3 rule. A rescue dog’s first night, week, or month in a new home involves a process of slowly learning to relax and be comfortable with their new surroundings and their new family. Be patient!
But, if none of this applies and your dog still refuses to sleep in their dog bed, here are a few tips that may help to convince them to give it a try:
- Set up the bed in an area that your dog already likes to sleep
- Keep the bed close to you to allow your dog to feel safe and comfortable
- Place a favourite toy or blanket in their new bed
- Make the bed more comfortable and enticing with a cozy dog blanket
- Praise and reward any interest in the bed, working up to rewarding only for laying down
- Try using obedience commands like ‘Place’ to teach your dog to go to their bed
While using commands or rewards to convince your dog to go to their bed may seem counterproductive, setting yourself up to have to enforce it, don’t worry. This is a training process to help your dog get started but their willingness to lay down on their own will come with time.
Tall Tails How Does Your Dog Sleep Photo Contest
Have you been looking at the pictures of my dogs, all comfy cozy in their beds, and feel like it’s a sign that your dog needs a new place to sleep?
If so, I have some exciting news.
All the bedding seen in the pictures, including beds and blankets, are from the company Tall Tails. They have a wide variety of great beds to choose from.
Right now, the company is running a great contest where you can win the right Tall Tails Bed for your dog’s sleep style along with an adorable Tall Tails Blanket, 2 sensory toys of your choosing and 1 of the company’s new Rewarding Chews. The contest is free to enter – just share an adorable picture of YOUR dog fast asleep.
The contest is open until October 31st for dog lovers living in Canada or the United States. The winners will be announced on November 1st.
Good luck to everyone on the contest. I hope to hear the news that a member of the awesome Shed Happens community walks away with the prize!
What is your dog’s sleep style? Share it in the comments and let’s find out which one is the most popular.