Why Do Some Dogs Sleep On Their Backs?

It doesn’t seem to matter when or where my dog Zoey is sleeping or lounging around, she almost always goes belly-side up! As soon as I put her in the passenger’s seat of my car, she flops onto her back and stares at me with her adorable little upside-down grin (I bring her everywhere I can with me!).

ZoeyTheAussie

When she hops up onto the couch in the living room, she almost always flips over and hangs out belly up! She will look around and stare sweetly at everyone in the room, and you can’t help but smile when you see her lounging.

Even when she is in play-mode, she will grab a toy and roll over onto her back with the toy between her front paws and toss it up in the air to amuse herself. It is one of the cutest things she does, and hangers are her favorite “toy!”

ZoeyTheAussie

She will also follow me to bed, press her nose against me a few times to tell me she is ready to play her favorite game: “bite the mysterious human hands under the covers.” She can’t go to bed before she wrestles with her Beagle sister Jem. After play time, she rolls over onto her back when she is ready to try to fall asleep. She will lay there in this cute pose for a few minutes until I see her slowly drifting off to sleep.

My first thought when Zoey sleeps, plays, and hangs out laying on her back is how adorable and funny it is, but I have recently started to wonder if there are real reasons behind why she does this and how common it is for dogs to lay belly-up, so I did some research:

According to Vet Street, 5-10% of domesticated dogs sleep on their backs. Zoey is part of the minority!

It’s a Sign of Security

According to an article I read on The Daily Puppy, the happiest and most secure dogs go belly-up and sleep on their backs. A sound-sleeping dog on her back demonstrates that she is extremely comfortable around you and feels very safe (Yay for Zoey!). Dogs will most likely not sleep on their backs if they are not feeling secure, because this position exposes their more vulnerable area.

It’s Comfortable

Sleeping belly-up is likely to be the most comfortable position for dogs because their muscles can completely relax. Dogs that sleep on their stomachs or curled up in a ball still have their muscles tensed which is not as comfortable. Back-sleepers have their muscles completely un-tensed, are the most relaxed, and tend to sleep deeper.

It Helps Them Cool Off

Sleeping on their backs helps dogs cool off when they are feeling too warm. Exposing their stomachs helps them cool off faster. The stomach has the least amount of fur, so flopping over feels like shedding a layer of clothing for dogs. This is one of the reasons Zoey will go belly-up in the car. After a long walk in the park, she exposes her belly as a way to cool down.

They Use it to Show Affection

Dogs who sleep on their backs also tend to be good communicators who want to use their body language to show you that they are feeling happy! Especially during playtime, happy dogs will roll over hoping for a rewarding belly rub. If your dog trusts you, she will invite and appreciate a good tummy scratch. Affectionate back-sleepers will lie pressed against their owners or other dogs to give you love and show you that they trust you. Sleeping in this close position allows your dog to feel like she is bonding with you and protecting you.

Zoey has slept pressed right up against my side ever since she was 1 year old, and it still melts my heart to this day! I feel such a strong bond with her when she sleeps so close to me. She may not be able to tell me how she is feeling (although sometimes I really wish she could!), but she sure does show me how happy she is which means everything to me!

I would love to hear from you! Does your dog love being on his or her back like Zoey? Share your stories and/or photos with me in the comments. :)