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Why Do Dogs Sleep on Their Back?

Dogs can sleep in many different positions, and some are stranger than others. If you’ve found your dog sleeping on its back with all four paws in the air, you’re probably wondering what’s that about?!

So why do dogs sleep on their back? Dogs sleep on their back for several reasons. Most often, dogs sleep on their back to cool down. Dogs only have sweat glands on their paw pads and this sleeping position helps them to cool off. Sleeping on the back is also a sign that your dog is feeling safe and comfortable in its surroundings. 

Continue reading to discover why dogs sleep on their back, what are some common dog sleeping positions, and how to help your dog get better sleep.

Common Sleeping Position of Dogs

Dogs sleep in a variety of different sleeping positions. From sleeping on their sides to sleep curled up in a ball, you can learn a lot about your dog from its sleeping positions. 

Dogs sleeping positions can help you understand how your dog is feeling both physically and mentally. 

Let’s see what are the most common dog sleeping positions and what they mean.

1. The Lion’s Pose

Also known as the sphinx, the lion’s pose sleeping position is when your dog sleeps with its head on top of its paws. Some dogs fall asleep in this position with their front paws tucked in and back legs on one side.

When a dog is sleeping in this position it means they are not sleeping deeply and are ready to jump and play at any time. 

2. The Side Sleeper

Lying on the side with legs extended in front of them is one of the most common dogs sleeping positions. When a dog sleeps on its side it means it feels relaxed and safe in its environment. 

3. The Superman

The superman sleeping position is common with puppies and very playful dogs. In this position, a dog is stretched out, with the belly pressed to the floor. The back legs are stretched behind and the front legs are extended in front of the dog.

When your dog sleeps on its belly, in a superman pose, know they are tired but ready to spring back to play at the first opportunity.

4. The Donut

In the donut sleeping position, dogs sleep curled up in a ball with their legs tucked close to the body. Some dogs will even drape their tails over their bodies too.

Dogs sleeping in this position are looking for a way to protect themselves while sleeping or are still getting used to their environment. The donut sleeping position is commonly seen in new or adopted dogs that are still adjusting to their new homes.

5. The Belly Up

The belly-up position is when dogs sleep on their back with their bellies exposed and paws in the air. There are several reasons why dogs sleep in this position, which we’ll discuss in a bit! 

Reasons Why Dogs Sleep on Their Back

Reasons Why Dogs Sleep on Their Back

Many dogs have a habit of sleeping on their backs with their paws up in the air. While it may seem uncomfortable and strange, there is a good reason why your dog decided to sleep on its back.

There are several reasons why dogs sleep on their backs. The most common are: 

1. To Cool Off

One of the reasons dogs sleep on their backs is to cool off. Dogs sweat and exchange heat through their paw pads, and this sleeping position helps them to cool down.

The fur on a dog’s stomach is also thinner than anywhere else on the body. By sleeping on its back a dog can cool down faster than in any other sleeping position. 

2. Comfort

Dogs love to sleep on their backs because it’s comfortable. Like people, dogs prefer some sleeping positions over others. 

Just because you don’t like sleeping on your back, it doesn’t mean your dog won’t like it.

3. Feeling of Security

A dog may sleep on its back to show its feeling particularly safe and secure. Sleeping on their back is a very vulnerable position for dogs since their bellies are completely exposed.

Sleeping in this position shows that your dog trusts you and is completely relaxed in its environment. Your dog feels comfortable enough that it doesn’t feel a need to be on guard or protect itself. 

4. Sign of Submission

Rolling over on the back is a sign of submission in wild wolves. Wolves also used this behavior to get out of trouble with a stronger attacker by showing how peaceful and harmless they are. 

Having said that, it’s possible that your dog sleeps and rolls on its back as a way of saying that you’re in charge. 

Does a Dog Bed Help with Dog’s Sleep?

Even if your dog is allowed to sleep on the sofa or in your bed, every dog needs a bed of its own. 

Besides improving the quality of your dog’s sleep, a dog bed will also keep your dog warm, offer proper support, and prevent the development of calluses from sleeping on hard surfaces (source). 

Unlike the couch or your bed, a dog bed is a space your dog can have for themselves to sleep and relax when they feel like it. 


It’s completely normal for dogs to sleep on their back. Dogs, like people, sleep in various positions and there’s nothing strange about sleeping with all limbs in the air. 

While seeing your dog with its paws in the air might seem strange, there are several potential reasons behind your pup’s sleeping arrangements. Most dogs sleep on their back to cool off during or because they feel comfortable.

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