Why Do Dogs Sometimes Sleep on Their Backs? - We Save Dogs Life

Why Do Dogs Sometimes Sleep on Their Backs?



MOST DOG OWNERS have seen their dog occasionally sleeping on its back. This position is memorable because it appears so unstable and awkward that it’s often comical. The reason that dogs adopt this position has to do with temperature control.
Dogs, especially those with long or double coats, are very good at conserving body heat. That’s why northern dog breeds, such as the Alaskan Malamute, Samoyed, or Siberian Husky, can safely sleep outside in the snow at Arctic temperatures. The problem that dogs have is dissipating heat from the body when it becomes too hot. Since dogs do not sweat, except through the pads of their feet, their only other response to higher temperatures is panting, which cools the body a bit by evaporation of moisture from the tongue. Panting, however, is an active process and would run counter to the relaxation needed for sleep.
Dogs have another strategy for reducing their internal heat level. The fur on the dog’s underside is considerably thinner and often is almost completely absent. That means that, by lying on his back, the dog exposes the least insulated portion of his body to the open air, thereby allowing some of his body heat to escape more easily. This can be an effective way to prevent overheating.
Dogs will also opportunistically use the environment to help reduce their internal temperature on hot days. Obviously, seeking a place in the shade helps. Some dogs will lie down in places where they can catch the air flowing from a fan. If you have a room with a ceramic tile floor, dogs may once again use the fact that the insulation is thinner on their underside. In this case, however, they tend to lie down on the floor with their belly directly against the cool tile and their limbs spread. This is also a comical pose, since it makes them look much like the pelt of a beaver or otter that has been spread out to dry.
Sometimes puppies sleep on their back for a different reason. From the time they are fully mobile until they are three or four months old, puppies act much like windup toys. It is amusing to watch them run and go full tilt and then, like a windup toy, simply stop. When they do stop, they may wobble, stagger, and virtually seem to topple over like felled trees. So in the case of puppies, it is not necessarily that they choose to sleep on their backs; it’s just that when puppies run out of energy, they will sleep in whatever position or location they happen to be in at the time.

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