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Why Does My Dog Sleep on Their Back? 3 Common Reasons & FAQ

Written by: Cassidy Sutton

Last Updated on July 22, 2024 by Dogster Team

dog sleeping belly up

Why Does My Dog Sleep on Their Back? 3 Common Reasons & FAQ

Dogs never fall short of making us laugh, especially when they select weird sleeping positions. And we can’t help but wonder if it’s even comfortable.

Nevertheless, all dogs have their reasons for sleeping on their back. In fact, they have three reasons, in particular, for this behavior, and we’d like to share with you today what those might be.

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The 3 Reasons Why Your Dog Sleeps on Their Back

1. It’s Comfortable

The most common reason why dogs sleep on their backs is comfort. Who wants to lie down on their stomach all the time? Kicking their paws in the air and letting the drool drip down their face is your dog’s idea of optimal relaxation.

2. It Helps Your Dog Stay Cool

During the hottest times of the year when the heat is unbearable, dogs like to air out their paws to keep themselves cool. It’s like kicking your feet out from under the blanket.

The only way for dogs to stay cool is to pant and sweat. Interestingly, dogs don’t sweat all across their bodies the same as humans do. Dogs only sweat through their paws, so sleeping back down and feet up is the best position in the summertime.

Bulldog sleeping soundly on bed
Image by: Vitaly Titov, Shutterstock

3. Your Dog Feels Safe

When an animal shows its belly around you, it’s a big deal. The abdomen is a vulnerable part of the body. After all, it’s where all the vital organs are. Wild dogs like wolves wouldn’t dare show their stomach if they felt threatened, and domestic dogs are the same way.

When your dog sleeps on its back, it tells you it trusts and loves you. What an honor!

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can Dogs Breathe When They Sleep on Their Backs?

Dogs won’t put themselves in a sleeping position that limits their breathing, so most dogs breathe just fine on their backs.

Of course, there are always exceptions. Flat-nosed dogs, otherwise known as brachycephalic dogs, have trouble breathing. They may opt for a different sleeping position, like the “sploot” position, when the belly is down and the back legs are spread.

How Do Old Dogs Sleep?

A dog’s sleeping habits change as it ages. Most dogs sleep more as they enter their golden years, which affects how they sleep. Senior dogs can feel achy from arthritis and other ailments, so they may choose to sleep on their bellies instead.

You can help your old man or lady sleep better by providing soft surfaces like blankets, pillows, and couches as an extra cushion on the joints.

Why Does My Dog Lay on Their Back When I Touch Them?

This doesn’t relate to sleeping, but the rules are the same. Your dog wants belly rubs and feels safe enough around you to accept a hand on the tummy. Belly rubs feel great, and what better way to express love than receiving belly rubs from the person your dog loves most?

In the wild, wolves are known to show their bellies to other wolves as a means of surrender. When your dog exposes its tummy, it’s placing you in the alpha position. It’s also a sign of submission. But mostly, your dog just wants belly rubs.

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Sleeping on the back is your dog’s version of kicking the feet up to relax. It is nothing to worry about. In fact, it is a way for your dog to say thank you for providing a safe space for optimal relaxation. The next time you see your dog belly up, why not join in on the leisure?

Featured Image Credit: vilma3000, Shutterstock

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