11 Weird Things Dogs Do in Their Sleep


If you have lived with a dog for a long time, by now, you would have witnessed some of the quirkiest things only pooches do.

Many of them are funny, cute, and some of them… well, odd. 

Many times we’ve marveled at how similar they are to us. 

Have you ever experienced looking at your dog’s eyes and wondering why they have that sort of “knowing look”? 

Odd right? But even the strangest things dogs do are what makes them much more adorable – awake or asleep!

Speaking of sleep… if you have wondered why your dog has been exhibiting weird behaviors in their sleep, we’ve got some insider information for you on why they do those.

Weird as they seem, there’s no reason to freak out, really.

11 Weird Things Dogs Do In Their Sleep

#1 Dogs Laugh in Their Sleep

Have you heard your dog making some eager panting sound while sleeping? 

Yes, that’s your dog “laughing” in their sleep. 

A dog’s laugh sounds different than that of a human’s, of course. Unlike humans, dogs don’t laugh to react to something hilarious.

It’s got something to do with REM during sleep.

Like humans, a dog’s brain goes through two basic sleep phases during sleep. One is the SWS (slow-wave sleep) phase, and two, the REM (rapid eye movement) phase.

During REM, our dogs’ minds are so active that you can see their eyes making rapid movements as an indication. You may hear your dog making noises like whining, crying, and rapid breathing or panting during this intense mental activity.

Have you ever noticed that your dog pants heavily when he or she greets you when you arrive home from work? 

That’s the noise of excitement (aka doggie laughter).

So the next time you hear your beloved pet makes that enthusiastic pant while sleeping, be happy. It only means your dog is excited to see you even in its sleep.

#2 Dogs Whimper in their Sleep

Similar to laughter, dogs whimper in their sleep too. 

As mentioned, REM or the increased level of brain activity during sleep is what causes dogs to produce bizarre noises while sleeping.

Dogs do dream in their sleep. Like their human parents, pets relive their daily experiences in their sleep, which may result in doggie “sleep howl” or “sleep bark”. 

We don’t know what animals dream about, but they experience dreams like people. They even share the same sleep pattern with humans!

Take note that whimpering or whining in dogs can mean several things whether they’re awake or asleep. Take special attention, especially when it is excessive or unusual. 

According to AKC, a whimpering dog could mean an anxious dog or a pup in pain.

#3 Dogs make bubble noises when sleeping

Dogs making noises when sleeping is normal. REM is the most likely reason.

Like people, they sleep talk too! (Or sleep bark rather)

Bubble noises, like many other sounds dogs make, are harmless. Unless these sounds are apparent when they are awake.

If they produce unusual sounds that they haven’t before, that may indicate a medical condition. If that’s the case, you need to see your veterinarian soon.

#4 Dogs Make Weird Noises in their Sleep 

They moan, they howl, and sometimes they yap or “laugh”. 

Dogs indeed make weird noises while snoozing. Pretty much, that’s normal.

However, if you have been seriously bothered about the sounds your dog makes when sleeping, then there might be something more to those than simple REM-state dreaming. 

For example, stomach noises that may come off as “growls” may mean a digestive problem.

In most cases, the occasional sounds dogs produce while asleep are normal. 

Let them sleep… and dream.

Trust your gut. We should know when to take our pets to the vet and when to shrug off. 

#5 Dogs Make Squeaking Noises While Sleeping

Have you heard your dog make squeaking noises while sleeping? 

Don’t be bothered too much about your dog’s sleep antics. 

Dogs making noises- disturbing or eccentric as they sound – is a healthy and natural occurrence during sleep. 

If you hear your pet whimper or let out a squeak, fret not. That’s basically your dog probably having a petty skirmish with a cat or something in its dream. 

If there is something you should do when dogs are in a deep slumber, that is not to interrupt them. Or risk getting bitten!

Undisturbed sleep is essential for canine health and wellbeing.

#6 Dogs sleep under the covers

Dogs’ innate desire to crawl under the covers has something to do with their wolf ancestry. Wolves live in dens or a cave-like hole that offers them a secure and comfortable place to live. 

In the same way, dogs snuggle close to you or crawl under the sheets to be next to you to get that safe, den-like atmosphere, especially when they are feeling anxious. 

Sometimes, they may just be seeking your warmth being their “pack”. 

Sleeping under the covers is not uncommon behavior in dogs. Some dogs only exhibit this behavior when they’re feeling unwell or scared. 

Does your dog tend to feel scared during a thunderstorm? 

Don’t be surprised if your furry companion suddenly shows up under the sheets!

#7 They twitch in their sleep

Like running in their sleep, they may twitch a lot, especially during the REM period. It can go on for several minutes, depending on your dog’s size and breed.

Whether they’re digging up a hole and trying to hide a bone or playing with another dog… Well, it can be an adventure-packed moment for our dogs every time they take a good shut-eye. 

Expect some real action during the process. 

#8 Dogs curl up in a ball 

According to an animal behavior expert who talked to PetMD, dogs curl up like in a donut position when they sleep to feel safer. 

It’s a way for them to regulate body temperature and protect the most vulnerable parts of their body – their organs. 

It might also indicate that they’re feeling anxious or fearful about something.

Why don’t you grab a snuggly bed for dogs where it can be in a nice, curled-up sleeping position for a good night’s sleep?

#9 They snore like people

You may find it amusing, but if your dog snores excessively while sleeping, it may cause concern rather than amusement. 

In humans, loud snoring is a sleep disorder. It occurs when your air passages are blocked. 

In the same way, snoring in dogs boils down to this one main cause: restricted airways.

Here are some possible reasons why your dog snores a lot:

  • The air passages are narrowed due to an infection, such as an abscessed tooth.
  • Your dog loves sleeping on its back so that the tongue partially blocks the airways.
  • Your dog may be predisposed to it. Some breeds have shorter snouts, so they are more prone to snoring or obstructive breathing. 
  • Your dog is overweight.
  • Swelling in tissues of the throat caused by allergies. Some dogs are sensitive to pollutants like cigarette smoke and dust.
  • Potential health conditions like sleep apnea or hypothyroidism

All dogs can snore occasionally. Specifically, they belong to certain breeds that are more susceptible to snoring than others, just like English bulldogs.

In any case, if you have never heard your dog snoring before and then, out of the blue, it has started snoring loudly when sleeping, consult your vet right away. 

#10 They sleep exposing their belly

Dogs sleeping tummy up is a joy to watch. Not only because you find it cute or Instagram-worthy but because it means you’re home to them. 

A dog’s belly is like its “Achilles’ heel”. 

Exposing their most vulnerable spot only means they don’t feel threatened. They don’t need to worry about attackers, nor care how they look. 

If you often find them sleeping on their backs, showing their belly and all, be happy as your dog is too!

#11 They sleep-run

If you think they’re running in their sleep, you’re right! 

Dreaming in dogs is normal and healthy. 

It’s a good indication that they are indeed deeply asleep. Like humans, sometimes they tend to physically “perform” their dreams. 

So you shouldn’t disturb your pet or try to wake your dog up during those moments because, most likely, they’re having a great time chasing a cat or running with other dogs.

Besides, you can get bitten if you attempt to disrupt them in such dream-filled moments.

What Do Dogs Dream About?

By now, we know that dogs dream. But what do they dream about?

Experts found out that dogs dream about “doggie stuff”. Whatever they do during their active waking hours, those are the same scenarios that they relive and act out when they are asleep. 

Hence the twitching, whining, barking, and other quirky movements and sounds they make when they sleep.

While even researchers can’t tell exactly what dogs do in their dreams, we can tell by simply observing what they love to do or what their recent activities are. Those that they normally do when they’re awake.

6 Dog Sleeping Positions and Their Meaning

#1 The Sphinx or Lion’s Pose

What it looks like: Your dog leans forward, resting its head on its paws.

What it means: It simply means that your dog is not sleeping deeply. It’s simply snoozing for a bit and is ready to play when given the opportunity.

Doggy personality: Pooches who like to sleep in this position are usually defensive but loving. They are loyal and love to sleep lion-like at the feet of their owner. 

#2 The Curled-up Position

What it looks like: This pose is also known as the “donut” position. Your canine friend will curl itself up into a small ball, legs comfortably tucked in its body.

What it means: When dogs shift to this position, one reason is they want to regulate their body heat. Another thing is they might feel a bit more vulnerable, so they are protective of themselves.

Doggy personality: When canines like to snooze in this fetal-like ball position, they tend to be anxious dogs. However, they’re the most caring personalities.

#3 The Belly Up Pose

What it looks like: Your dog sleeps on its back, limbs up, exposing its entire tummy and privates. 

What it means: It means that your dog feels safe and secure in its environment. It also means your furry buddy trusts you with all its doggy heart. This sleeping pose also helps dogs to cool off during hot weather.

Doggy personality: Dogs that love to sleep in this vulnerable position are quite trusting and affectionate pooches. 

#4 The Superman Pose

What it looks like: Your dog sleeps on its tummy, front legs and paws are stretched forward, while the hind legs extend in the back of their butt.  

What it means: It’s still mentally active and ready to jump into another playtime with you. For now, your dog wants to rest up a bit.

Doggy personality: Energetic, playful, and fun-loving dogs love to sleep in this position.

#5 The Snuggler Position

What it looks like: Your dog often sleeps next to another dog or loves to snuggle next to you.

What it means: It could mean pet-owner attachment. It only means that your canine friend has established a strong bond with you.

Doggy personality: Dogs that love to sleep in this position are naturally loving and affectionate.

#6 The Side Sleeper

What it looks like: Your canine pet sleeps on its side with limbs extended.

What it means: It’s a common position amongst well-loved pets at home. It means that they feel relaxed and at peace with their home environment. 

Doggy personality: Dogs that love to sleep on their sides are trusting and gentle dogs. As they trust their surroundings, they have low aggression tendencies.

Why does my dog sleep at My feet under the covers?

Your dog sleeps at your feet under the covers because it is a dog’s innate desire. According to AKC, they got this trait from their ancestors – wolves. They like the comfort that a den-like atmosphere provides. That’s the same comfy feeling they get when they hide or sleep under the covers!

Why do dogs sleep with their bum facing you?

Your dogs sleep with their bum facing you to show that they feel secure and comfortable with you. Their rear is one of your pet’s vulnerable parts. That’s where you find the tail, which is prone to injuries as it is often moving and unprotected. So no worries. Just give your pet a pat in the bum. 

Dogs feel more secure when they know that their mom or dad has got their backs!

Why does my dog sleep on my pillow above my head?

When your dog sleeps on your pillow above your head, it means two things: one, your pet wants to be as close to you as possible because they’re attached to you. They feel safer with you. Two, your canine friend wants your pillow too. Either way, it only shows how well-bonded you are with your pet.

Speaking of bond… dogs can get extra “clingy” with their human parents. Does your dog follow you around? 

If it does, there’s science behind that as shared with PetMD by an animal behaviorist.

Final Thoughts

Like people, dogs need adequate sleep to live healthy and happy lives. They also show similar sleep patterns to humans. That’s the reason why they have vivid dreams like us.

In many ways, dogs and men are alike. We share common traits and behaviors. Weird as it may sound, it might be the reason why dogs are a man’s best friend. They’re simply compatible and alike in many ways!

Andrew

I am a dog trainer and passionate about canine health and behavior problems. I train dogs of all ages but specialize in training dogs with behavioral issues such as aggression or anxiety. My favorite part of my job is watching the transformation that takes place when an owner starts to understand their pet’s needs and how to meet them.

Dog Blog