Dog Sleeping On Back

We love our dogs and we love all of their funny little ways, too. That’s what’s made them Britain’s most favourite pet. We’ve written a host of articles on our blog about bizarre and off behaviour and this blog will explore why some dogs sleep on their backs sometimes.

Why do they do it and is there any concerning reason for it? We’ll help you relax and understand this sleeping position.

Why do dogs sleep on their backs?

There is always a reason why a dog would do something regardless of how daft it may look to us humans. Many of these quirky behaviours are as a result of a combination of instincts passed down from their ancestors and a result of centuries of domestication.

The below are best guesses about their penchant to sleep on their back.

dog sleeping on back
300Dog sleeping on its back


Sleeping on their backs is comfortable for many breeds of dog as it lets them relax their muscles and have a stress free airway to breath in and out of. This comfortable sleeping position can be enhanced if they’re able to sandwich themselves between two things such as the bolster sides of a good dog bed or even in between two humans.

Shuffling position

Have you ever turned and changed position during your sleep or even shuffled while trying to get to sleep? Of course, you have, everyone has done that – dogs will too. No one knows why they have the urge to move about a bit but there is still that mystery urge to do so and this phenomenon can potentially explain why a dog may turn over on their backs while asleep or while trying to sleep.

Perhaps they’re thinking to themselves that what they’ve tried hasn’t got them to sleep and perhaps changing sleeping positions will help that!

Cool off

Dogs can’t sweat through their fur, they sweat through paws, panting and uncovered skin. A dog can sleep on their backs when they’re feeling the heat to allow more heat to escape via their bellies. They may do this while awake rather than sleeping as it can be difficult to sleep when they’re hot.

This sleeping position, if it’s caused by heat, may be accompanied by panting and sticking their tongue out so we’d suggest moving their dog bed somewhere cooler to help them out some more.

They feel safe

Napping or lying on their back indicates a dog feels very safe and secure wherever they are doing it having an exposed belly is clearly a position of vulnerability. You would never see wild dogs or Wolves lying on their backs so this behaviour is pretty much exclusive to domesticated mutts. 

You should be really pleased and proud as an owner if you observe this behaviour in your dog – it’s not easy to make a dog completely at ease thanks to their instincts to guard and enhanced senses for danger. Give them a cuddle and encourage this behaviour for a happy and healthy pooch!

Belly rubs!

All dogs love belly rubs and the only way they can get them is by showing their bellies! They may not necessarily be sleeping when they do this but with enough love and affection, they may well start to drift off. 

Other positions are uncomfortable

We’ve left this till last on purpose as it’s so unlikely but your dog may sleep on their back to alleviate pressure elsewhere, perhaps they’ve got some joint pain or perhaps the skin on their belly is too sore to lay on. An easy thing to spot and cure to be honest.

If this has happened, it’s unlikely your dog is overly happy even when on their backs as the underlying issue still exists and probably making them uncomfortable.


99.99% of times your dog lays on their back to sleep, nap or even just relax there’s a good reason for it! 

Do you have a dog that loves this position? Why not send us a picture and we may feature it in our gallery! 

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  • Ronnie is the JugDog site editor and a dog expert who has lived and worked with dogs his entire life. Living in St. Helens, UK with his wife son and Jug Dog Jeff Ronnie spends most of time researching the answers to the burning questions of the dog community as well as reviewing the latest and greatest dog products.

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