Finding your dog sleeping on its back could be a very funny, adorable, cute, and strange sight. It is a unique position, as most dogs often sleep on their side or stomach. However, you should not find this position strange, it is normal, and there are reasons why a dog will sleep on its back.
Dogs sleep on their back for various reasons, including to cool off, feel safe and secure, be comfortable, display affection, and seek attention. There are about ten different dog sleeping positions; as a dog owner, you need to know the positions and what they signify.
One of the things you should avoid doing as a dog owner is rousing your dog from its sleep if it is not necessary. Dogs do not sleep because they enjoy sleeping; they need to relax.
Why Does My Dog Sleep on Their Back?
Just as dogs often display some behaviors, we sometimes find them strange and weird; there is usually a reason behind them. Some of these behaviors could be a way of communicating, attention-seeking, or even an indication of an underlying health condition.
So, there is a need to understand the reason for whatever your dog does. Dogs sleeping on their back is a unique sleeping condition. Although it is not an indication of anything wrong with the dog, there are some reasons why your dog sleeps on its back. We will be discussing the reasons below.
The Dog is Cooling Off
If you live in an area where the weather is hot and your dog sleeps on its back, it is likely doing so to cool off. Dogs do not sweat on their skin; they only do through the glands in their paws. Also, the coat on their stomach is thinner than other parts of their body. So, when a dog feels hot, it could choose to sleep on its back.
A veterinarian at an animal hospital in Nevada figured that when dogs sleep on their backs, their stomach (with thin fur) cools off faster. So, if you find your dog in this position during hot weather, understand it is simply trying to cool off. A dog that sleeps on its back will get cool air in its paws and belly.
The Dog is Seeking Attention
Dogs are smart animals, and they will try out various means to get your attention. a dog will lie on its back to get your attention. If your dog sees you coming and wants some attention, it could come to your side then flip onto its back. This is a cute thing to experience. When the dog does this, it calmly stays on that spot then gazes at you.
What the dog wants is some attention. You could then choose to give it some attention by rubbing or scratching its body, or you ignore it. If you rub its body, you are reinforcing the behavior. It will likely do this some other time when it wants your attention.
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It Is A Comfortable Position
Your dog is likely to sleep on its back after trying out various sleeping positions, and it finds it comfortable. Just like we humans, whenever we find a relaxing position that is comforting, we tend to sleep more in that position; the same thing happens to dogs too. A dog sleeping on its back could help its body and muscles relax well.
When a dog sleeps on its back, it gets enough rest without aggravating any arthritic joints. However, if your dog has arthritis, you can help it by purchasing an orthopedic memory foam bed that does not put pressure on the dog’s joint. So, if you find your dog in this position and it appears to be enjoying its sleep, do not interrupt it; let it enjoy its sleep.
The Dog Feels Safe
Another reason why your dog could sleep on its back is that it feels safe where it is currently. Typically, this would be very difficult for wild dogs; this sleeping position makes them vulnerable and exposed (the abdominal organs are unprotected like the lungs and heart).
They sleep in a curled position, such that they can quickly get up when there is a threat. However, for domestic dogs, you could find them in this position. It simply shows they feel safe and comfortable staying around you. A dog that sleeps on its back tells you that it is totally and completely secure and safe in the surroundings.
Why Does My Dog Sleep on his Back With his Legs Open?
If you have noticed your dog sleeping on his back with his legs open, it shows how comfortable and safe the dogs feel around you. When a dog is asleep, especially in a position where its stomach is exposed, it is vulnerable at that moment. At this point, it is difficult for such a dog to get up if there is a threat or attack quickly.
So, choosing to sleep in such a position is a way of your dog telling you it feels safe and trusts you and the environment. Also, a dog could sleep in this position to cool off during hot weather. This position allows the breeze to flow on the dog’s stomach while heat releases.
Why Does My Dog Sleep On His Back With His Legs In The Air?
When a dog sleeps on its back with its legs in the air, this position is known as “The Zombie.” A dog will only sleep in this position if it is relaxed, trusting, safe, and secure about the environment. This position is one of the most vulnerable sleeping positions because the dog is prone to attack and it cannot react quickly.
Dog Sleeping Positions And The Meanings
The same way humans sleep in different positions to find the most comfortable one, dogs have different sleeping positions too. However, beyond the comfort and rest dogs get from sleep, the position it does says a lot about their general wellbeing. So, to properly care for your dog, you need to observe and understand their sleeping positions.
The Side Sleeper
The dog lies on its side with its legs extended in this position. This is one of the most common sleeping positions, especially in puppies and older dogs. This position shows that the dog is relaxed and comfortable with the surroundings. A dog asleep in this position will fall asleep.
Also read: Why Does My Dog Scratch My Bed Sheets? [BEHAVIOR EXPLAINED]
In this position, the dog lays sprawled out on the ground, its belly is pressed to the floor, its front legs stretched forward, and the back legs behind it. This is a common sleeping position with puppies and playful dogs. This position means the dog is tied but is ready to play.
The dog prefers to sleep on another dog, or its owner cuddled up in this position. If your dog sleeps in bed with you, it will most likely sleep in this position. This position signals bonding between the dog and the owner or other dogs.
The dog sleeps curled up like a ball in this position, with all its limbs tucked closely to its body. In some cases, the dog’s nose touches its hind legs, and it can drape its tail over its body. This position indicates that the dog is protecting itself. It is a sleeping position common among new or stray dogs.
Dogs will try out different sleeping positions before they fall asleep; as a dog owner, you should know all the various sleeping positions mean. Some of the positions can look uncomfortable, but there is a reason your dog sleeps in that position, and you should not disturb it.
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Shawn Manaher is a serial entrepreneur but when he isn’t working, he loves dogs. He’s owned different pets over the years, and always gives a part of his heart to each pet.