You are snuggling with your dog, and you realize that they’re not facing you…
“Do they not like to see me while they sleep?”
Dear fur parent, don’t take it personally…
It’s not so much alike to us humans where turning the back equates to a cold shoulder.
Or an “I don’t want to talk to you…”
But, yeah… it can sometimes be that.
But that’s not always the case, okay?
No need to fret because your dog may sleep in this position for many other reasons…
Continue reading to find out:
- If your dog is sulking or just sleeping.
- How you should react if your dog sleeps this way.
- 11 reasons why your dog sleeps with its back to you.
- 3 things you can do when your dog takes this sleeping position.
- And many more…
Table of contents
- Why does my dog sleep with its back to me?
- 11 weird reasons why your dog sleeps with its back to you
- #1: They’re relaxed
- #2: They trust you
- #3: They’re being protective
- #4: They’re avoiding conflict
- #5: It’s just… comfortable
- #6: They’re asking for something
- #7: They’re feeling affectionate
- #8: It’s warmer that way
- #9: They’re convinced you like it
- #10: They sleep better in this position
- #11: They’re on DND Mode
- What to do when your dog sleeps with its back to you? 3 tips
Why does my dog sleep with its back to me?
Your dog sleeps with its back to you because they may be relaxed, or it is a sign that they trust you. It can also mean that they’re ready to protect you amidst their sleep, or they know you’re upset. Most of the time, they just want to sleep and it is the best position for them.
11 weird reasons why your dog sleeps with its back to you
#1: They’re relaxed
With you around, they don’t need to worry…
Your little pooch sleeps touching your back because they feel relaxed and safe.
They’re so assured of their surroundings that they don’t have to panic about anything.
So, take your dog’s initiative and relax with them as well.
After all, your pooch wouldn’t be this relaxed if they sense something threatening.
Thus, if this is the case, you can lie down with your pup…worry-free and chill.
#2: They trust you
Sleeping beside you is enough to say that your dog trusts you.
Being by your side while they sleep makes little Fido feel secure.
“Watch my back, hooman, ok?”
Is what your dog tells you as you lie behind them.
To them, you are a trustworthy and safe person to be with and to be unconscious around.
Both their bellies and back are vulnerable areas when they sleep.
They’d probably take care of the possible threat that’s facing them, but you…
You are left with an important job…
And that is to guard what’s going to go on behind their back! You are their eyes and defense from behind.
Don’t worry, though. You can still fall asleep and snuggle with your dog….
For sure, they’d like that, too.
Don’t forget to check out: How do you know if your dog trusts you?
#3: They’re being protective
Just as I previously mentioned in reason #2, your dog’s on the watch for threats in front of them.
Your dog sleeping with their back to you also means that they’re protecting you.
Dogs are pack animals that sleep together. By doing so, vulnerability to risks lessens.
The more watchers, the less damage the probable threats will bring.
That being said, this is an instinctual behavior. It occurs despite domestication. It means your dog is naturally protective of you.
- Cane Corsos.
- German Shepherds.
- Doberman Pinschers.
- Australian Shepherds.
This behavior is automatic to all dogs. But, these are dog breeds that are more protective than others:
In addition, as you two sleep, your dog might even pick the spot that faces the door.
That’s because they’re aware that it’s where threats can show firsthand.
In that position, they can react quicker and defend you immediately.
“I got this, hooman!”
Says your excellent snoring watchdog.
#4: They’re avoiding conflict
That’s your fur baby avoiding eye contact as they sleep with their back turned on you.
“What did I do?”
Your dog is probably upset after you scolded them. They don’t want to make eye contact with you as they believe it avoids confrontation.
Yes, your dog can tell if you’re upset and they react with it, too.
In a 2016 study, results show that dogs can “extract and integrate” sensory emotional information from mere pictures and sounds.
Your dog can recognize your emotions.
Through your facial expressions and tone of voice. They can also differentiate which is positive and negative.
And with that, beware!
As numerous other studies state that dogs can accurately match human’s emotional state.
In this investigation, subject dogs’ cardiac activities and behavioral responses were monitored. The findings show that dogs are sensitive to our emotional cues.
Now you know why your pooch is giving you the silent treatment.
It’s not that they’re upset with you. But they know that you are, and they assume that they should be careful with you.
Here’s how to cheer them up and return to your usual relationship:
- Pick the perfect timing.
- Cuddle and pet them while you reassure them.
- Talk to them in a calm and assuring voice (baby talk works, too).
While you do this, check their body language. Some dogs will still feel uncomfortable.
Here’s what to look out for:
- Muzzle licking.
- Flattened ears.
- Licking your arm or hands.
“Then how can I know if it worked?”
If your dog responds by licking your hand, see if their tail is wagging.
If it does, that’s what you’re looking for!
You’re all back to normal.
#5: It’s just… comfortable
If you’re starting to take it personally…
It’s just that, for your dog, they feel more comfortable if they’re facing forward.
They’re stretched out, and they don’t have to tense their muscles – unlike when they curl.
And maybe in this position, they’d get to sleep better…
Because, just like everyone else, your dog stirs around and looks for a comfortable sleeping position.
You do that, too! And so do I…
Maybe wait for another uncomfortable-stir until they finally face you…
No matter what, you can take a breather. Because your dog didn’t mean to imply anything else in this situation.
#6: They’re asking for something
There may have been an instance where they lied down in this position, and they got something in return.
Or you’re just really their go-to person… and they have this itch they want you to scratch.
They place themselves beside you, lie with their back turned, and wait…
They wait for a back rub… or a belly scratch… or an ear rub….
They’re obviously trying to get you to do something for them.
“How can I know?”
It’s trial and error!
What does your dog like?
Maybe your dog is fond of belly rubs but not much for back scratches.
All in all, it depends, and you just have to try.
Take, for example:
You’re trying to see if they’re asking for a belly rub…
And so you rub their belly then stop…
You do not get a reaction at all.
So you move on to back scratches…then you stop again.
Your dog then lifts up their head and gives you an attentive gaze…
That must be it!
That’s your dog’s way of telling “That’s what I came here for hooman…”
And you gotta give them what they want… or you’ll never escape that stare.
#7: They’re feeling affectionate
If your dog sleeps with their back on you, they might also be feeling affectionate.
They’re feeling all cuddly and ready for love…but not that much. Thus the position.
This is a low-key take on trying to be affectionate towards you.
Dogs also like to sleep with other dogs in a back-to-back position.
Oxytocin has a role in these activities.
During positive interactions, with their fur parent or fellow canine, both parties’ oxytocin level increases.
That surge of happiness hormones creates a bridge for attachment between the two involved.
But this time, they’d like to cuddle in a very subtle way. Where they’re both feeling chill and lovable.
“Hooman…hooman…let’s cuddle…but take it easy…”
Come on! Grant them their request. It would not take you that much effort to do so.
All that little Fido asks is a subtle cuddle!
Don’t forget to check out: 13 Surprising Reasons Why Dogs Sleep On Your Stomach
#8: It’s warmer that way
You give them warmth while they warm your heart…
With their backs turned, it may be easier for you to cuddle with them.
And your dog must’ve sensed or become familiar with the right way.
In this way, they can snuggle so much with you. They can’t help but push toward you, again and again.
And maybe even until you don’t have any space left to move.
Despite that, you can’t deny that it is such an adorable sleeping position with your dog!
Dr. Cohen from PetMD explained that this tendency stems from when your dog’s just a puppy.
As puppies, they have difficulties regulating their body heat… and so, they snuggle!
They share to you their warmth, and you share yours with them.
As they grow, they become accustomed to sleeping that way against another dog or their fur parent.
It’s a habit that brings them comfort and makes them sooooo snuggly!
#9: They’re convinced you like it
Maybe you’ve complimented them once on how cute they are as they lie in that position.
You might’ve also shown your fondness when they lie that way.
By simply rewarding them with petting or verbal validation…
Your dog, being the genius that they are, has imprinted it on their mind.
“Oh, hooman likes it if I sleep this way…”
So, they do it again…and again.
Because they know they’ll get the validation they want from you.
“Good boy!” is enough validation for them.
To be clear, this is not the same as reason #6 where they do it to get something from you…
In this case, they don’t want anything from you aside from your satisfaction for their actions…
It is for you, and it’s supposed to make you happy.
But come on, that four-legged friend subtly wants a slight and quick pat on the head, too. It can make their hearts flutter!
#10: They sleep better in this position
You and your dog are lying down. Their back is turned on you…
Then, later on, you hear whimpering. And they start to run or kick…
You’re so entertained that you went ahead and picked up your phone to take a video of them.
Then, for the perfect ending, you wake them up and laugh about how confused they are…
“Oh baby, you were dreaming…” and they just look at you all disoriented and adjusting to reality.
As much as it is very funny and entertaining, you actually just disrupted your pooch’s sleep.
A very valuable part of their sleep to be exact!
I mentioned in reason #5 that it’s just comfortable for dogs to sleep with their backs turned from you. This is because their muscles are relaxed in this position.
Actually, this position might be a dog’s favorite. This study found that 84.2% of the dogs sleep in a stretched-out position on their side.
One reason could be that this pose promotes the most restorative sleep for them.
Because they will likely get a deep and comfortable sleep in this specific arrangement.
Your dog may have entered the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep once they start kicking, whimpering, and looking like they’re running.
Paul Owens stated in his book that the REM portion of a human’s sleep is the main period of the sleep cycle where stress gets released.
It might be the case for your dog’s REM portion, too.
So yes! Your dog needs this.
Oh, imagine if that was you. It will be very rude to disrupt such a deep sleep. And it will affect your overall mood.
So, take it easy on your pooch if they get cranky.
And it wasn’t because of the video, but because of the disturbance.
Next time, just let them dream on…okay?
#11: They’re on DND Mode
Before going to sleep, we probably set our phones to ‘do not disturb’ (DND) mode.
We don’t want to be distracted by those notifications, right?
We just want to be left alone before we drift to dreamland…
And that’s the case for most dogs, too.
This behavior is their DND mode.
And don’t worry, your dog still loves you…
It’s just that they don’t want to be bothered for now.
As this is the position where they can get the most satisfying sleep, they are obviously begging us to not bother them for a while.
With their back turned on you, they’re less distracted and more comfortable.
They’re relaxed, stretched out, and ready to dream of you.
So let them be…
And once they wake up, they’ll be more excited to play with you for real, rather than just in their dreams.
You might also want to know: Why does my dog sleep with their bum facing me?
What to do when your dog sleeps with its back to you? 3 tips
#1: Let them be
We’ve learned from the past two reasons that we must respect our dogs while they sleep.
In this position, your little pup is seeking serious rest and wants to be left alone for a while.
To elaborate, dogs need the right amount of sleep, too.
For humans, we advertise about 8 hours of sleep per day.
Dr. Nicholas Dodman in PetMD’s advice is for dogs to get at least 10 hours of sleep per day. Although it may vary from each dog according to their age, breed, and size.
However, your dog must stay close to achieving that number of hours per day. Because just like for humans, sleep is a very important component in a dog’s everyday life.
Here are ways to improve your dog’s sleep:
- Regulate physical activity.
- Increase mental stimulation.
- Lessen stress around the environment.
- Seek your veterinarian’s help if your dog encounters constant sleep problems. They can prescribe medications or suggest herbal remedies.
Signs of sleep-deprivation in your dogs:
- Short attention span.
- Grumpiness or being cranky.
- Inability to perform their daily tasks, totally or struggling to do so.
To further lessen the tendency of you waking your dog up, you can buy them their own dog bed.
We found a few choices for you that can be a start:
- Casper Dog Bed – The fur parent favorite! Comes in different sizes for all dogs.
- Petco Brand – Harmony Blue Cuddler Orthopedic Dog Bed – This can fit multiple small dogs. So they can all snuggle together!
- Furhaven Round Pet Beds – A cozy cave-style pet bed perfect for snuggly dogs!
#2: Return the love
With everything said about your dog’s sleep importance…
Instead of disrupting them, return the love.
And while they sleep, you can get the rest that you deserve as well…
You can hug them and snuggle together as you take an afternoon nap.
If you do not feel like lying down or sleeping…let your dog be.
You can also return the love by leaving them alone to sleep for a while. To not disrupt them at all.
I’m sure Fido will greatly appreciate that!
If you’re both not feeling sleepy at all, you can always cuddle!
The trick is to be sensitive to their reasons (among the 11 mentioned). Therefore you must…
#3: Act accordingly
Despite all the explanations, you might still be walking around a few eggshells.
After all, we can’t really speak to our canine companions.
But we can try to understand them through what their body says.
You will just have to carefully identify.
And after that, act accordingly to what they need at the moment.