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The Curious Sleep Behavior of Dogs

With more than 30 years as a Richmond VA pet sitting company, we have seen our share of odd requests. Taking care of an eel in a salt water aquarium was my biggest challenge. Read more on Pet Pleasers blog.

I have four dogs. I never thought I’d have this many at one time, but somehow I do. They are wonderful and really easy to take care of. They are all black and white Japanese Chin and, by nature, are very sweet, friendly and non-aggressive in behavior.

Bedtime is our special time together. My bedroom looks like the annex of a pet store (sorry, no photos!). I have many large bags filled with a variety of delicious dog treats which I distribute to them before we all settle down for the night.

We have a nightly ritual:  When it is time for treats, they all run upstairs, get on the bed (we have a ramp for them to use) and line up on the king size bed. They eagerly wait for me to dole out the treats. They are all smiling and prancing up and down with anticipation. First, they get dehydrated chicken strips we make ourselves. If you missed that post, click for the recipe — Yoshi’s Yummies Easy Homemade Chicken Strips Treat.

Then we move on to Nutro’s little apple treats. Next, they each get dehydrated liver or beef treats. Finally, they get their bully sticks to settle down and chew on. After chewing for a while, it is time for what I call “the big dig!”

All four pick a spot on the bed and start digging with their front paws — first right leg, then left leg, then both legs. Of course, by this time the bed is not fit for a human to sleep in! After all the digging they will lie down in the “hole” they have dug for themselves and curl up in a ball. They don’t stay there very long, but the digging seems to be a ritual for dogs before going to sleep at night.

I was curious about why this digging behavior so I did some research. Apparently, the behavior comes from their ancestors who lived in the wild and had to protect themselves at night, conserve body heat and keep their vital organs covered from prey attack. Although my dogs do not have to protect themselves from prey or cold weather, the instinct to do so still carries on in the canine world. It is rather funny to watch them digging furiously on the bed! Once they are done, we just straighten out the bed and climb in.

Three of my dogs seem to think that the king size bed is the best place to sleep, even though at last count we had about 9 comfy dog beds! Ok…that’s fine and my husband and I enjoy their company. But dogs can be noisy sleepers, especially short-nosed dogs. Plus, they can move around or start twitching in their sleep and make strange noises.

Do You Think Dogs Dream?

Dogs seem to dream just like people. I have been awakened by a dog’s foot slamming into my back or a loud whine that sounded like the poor dog was dying! If this happens to your pup, the best thing to do is to call the dog’s name. Don’t try and shake the dog awake as you would a person. Your dog might think you are the animal chasing him in his dream and reflexively try to bite you. If this becomes a a frequent problem, I recommend that you train your pet to sleep in one of those comfy dog beds on the floor so all parties can get a good night’s rest.

More Curious Sleeping Dog Behaviors

I had a Golden Retriever a few years back who had horrible sleep habits. I’ll never know for certain what she was dreaming about, but she’d get going at a full run, lying on her side with all four legs running in place. Her head would go back and forth trying to bite an imaginary enemy which was usually a table leg or some other piece of furniture. When she would start in on this, we quickly realized it wise to move things out of her way so she couldn’t injure herself or damage anything in the house. Awake, she was the calmest dog in the world — you all know what sweet dogs Goldens are.

If you have a terrier, you might find that they like to burrow under the covers. This is due to their nature of hunting down in holes for prey. I took care of a dachshund and always had to hunt for him when I came in to do his pet vists. He would always be hiding under the bed covers, under the throw on the couch or be curled up in the laundry basket!  He was very clever and knew the best hiding places in the house. Once I found him, we’d go for a nice walk and then he was right back under the covers before I got out the door.

Dogs have some pretty interesting sleep behaviors and habits. Read more on Richmond VA pet sitter's blog. | www.mypets-blog.com/mypets-blog/the-curious-sleep-behavior-of-dogs

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These are just a few of the crazy habits of sleeping dogs I have known. Does your dog have an unusual habit when he sleeps or curious bedtime ritual? We’d love to know — Add it on the Pet Pleasers’ Facebook page and include a photo of your dog sleeping, if you have one. If you haven’t already, we hope you’ll “LIKE” our page too. We don’t post everyday, but there’s good info there when we do.



Author: Carole

Carole Tomas is the owner and president of Pet Pleasers, Inc. She is a graduate of Ohio University and a Charter Member of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. When she began Pet Pleasers in 1985, business was conducted Old School via a landline, snail mail and an answering machine the size of a breadbox. No internet, email, text messaging, digital photos, social media or mobile phones! What has remained constant over three decades: Carole’s love of animals and an unwavering passion for professional pet sitting.

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