When dogs sleep curled up in a ball, in the nose-to tail, curled up position, you may be wondering why they have such a preference. Sure, your dog has ample of leg room all around him, so what gives?
While there are many advances in studying dogs, the "tell me how you sleep, and I'll tell you more about your dog's personality" quizzes haven't officially popped up from canine experts... at least as of yet.
However, there are some interesting subtleties in our dog's snoozing styles that are way too interesting to keep for ourselves.
Here are some interesting findings about dogs who like to snooze curled up in tight balls.
The Winter Sleeping Position
At our place, we like to call the curled up, nose-to-tail position as the "winter sleeping position." Just as mattresses come with a summer side and a winter side, our dogs switch sleeping positions based on the temperatures of our home.
It's therefore not surprising that dogs choose this nose-to-tail sleeping position for a very good reason: it helps them stay nice and toasty and allows them to conserve heat.
You have likely stumbled in the past on pictures of groups of sled dogs sleeping all curled up with their fluffy tails covering their faces.
This is an astute, energy efficient way to trap the heat against their bodies, explains Dr. Susan Whiton, veterinarian and owner of Dream a Dream Iditarod Sled Dog Kennel in Anchorage, Alaska in an interview by the late Dr. Sophia Yin.
Protecting Vital Organs
Sometimes, some things dogs do may be reminiscent of their past, when they weren't fed in shiny bowls and supplied with soft beds and plush pillows.
If we take a look back in time, we'll see that the ancestors of our domesticated dogs lived in the wild and they were exposed to many predators.
Sleeping in the nose-to-tail position, not only helped them stay toasty and warm as explained above, but also protected their vulnerable organs from direct exposure to dangerous predators, explains Margaret Gruen, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist working for North Carolina State Veterinary Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina in an article for Vet Street.
Need For Security
The nose-to-tail sleeping position in dogs shares some interesting features with the fetal sleeping position in humans with their arms and legs pulled toward the torso: a need for security.
In humans, this position is associated with people being "tough on the outside and soft on the inside." In dogs, this position may denote something similar, especially if dogs assume this position when it's not a cold day.
When a dog feels insecure about his surroundings because he's maybe in a new, unfamiliar place and needs some time to acclimate to his new environment, he may revert to this comforting nose-to-tail sleeping position, further adds Dr. Gruen.
Providing these dogs with a cozy blanket to curl up into may help these fellows feel more secure and protected.
Discovering Why Dogs Keep Their Mouths Open When Playing
Many dogs keep their mouths open when playing and dog owners may wonder all about this doggy facial expression and what it denotes. In order to better understand this particular behavior, it helps taking a closer look into how dogs communicate with each other and the underlying function of the behavior.
Should I Let My Dog Go Through the Door First?
Whether you should let your dog through the door first boils down to personal preference. You may have heard that allowing dogs to go out of doors first is bad because by doing so we are allowing dogs to be "alphas over us," but the whole alpha and dominance myth is something that has been debunked by professionals.
Why is My Dog Constantly Scratching and Biting Himself?
A dog constantly scratching and biting himself is for sure a frustrating ordeal. As a dog owner, you may wonder what may be causing all of the fuss and may be hoping to get to the bottom of the itchy problem. Veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Masucci shares several possible causes and solutions for itchy dogs.
A Need to Burrow
Some dog breeds are more predisposed to sleep curled up in blankets than others. Many of the small terriers, feisty dogs who were selectively bred to "go to ground" chasing and sometimes killing many ground-dwelling critters ranging from rodents to foxes, may be particularly attracted to sleeping curled up in blankets "burrito style."
Dachshunds, even though they're officially categorized under the terrier category, share many features with small terriers, and among them is their habit of sleeping nose-to-tail under blankets.
A look back in their history shows that they were once used to hunt badgers, hence why dachshunds have long bodies perfectly engineered to allow them to burrow themselves underground.
Conforming to Beds
Finally, of course, if you purchase your dog one of those donuts- shaped beds, your dog will have to curl tightly in a ball to conform to the shape of such bed.
Dogs who decide to sleep in baskets, suitcases or chairs, may also have to keep their legs nicely tucked in to conform to the shape of such objects.
However, dogs who feel like sleeping with their legs stretched out may figure out a way to still sleep in such beds with their legs protruding out or they may just choose to sleep somewhere else!
Did you know? As much as sleeping in the nose-to-tail position may seem comfy, it comes with a drawback. When dogs sleep curled up in a ball, their muscles are tense and less likely to twitch as they normally do in the REM stage, which is the most restorative part of sleep.
This position is therefore less relaxing than sleeping stretched out, explains Karen Becker, author and veterinarian at Natural Pet Animal Hospital in Bourbonnais, Illinois.
Do Dog Sleep Curled up in a Ball When Sick?
If your dog normally sleep sprawled out and now, suddenly, he's sleeping curled up in a ball, there may be chances he's feeling under the weather.
Some dogs when sick will curl up to guard an area when it hurts. It's a sort of defense mechanism to protect a vulnerable area and for the dog to wish to be left alone. It could be your dog has a painful joint or maybe an upset tummy.
Suspect your dog being sick if he's seeking solitude, appears less interested in his surroundings or is acting mopey, shivering and sleeping more than usual.
Why Does My Dog Sleep in a Ball Next to Me?
Chances are, your dog feels comfy, safe and secure being next to you and that the weather is just right for this sleeping position. If your dog is directly making contact with you, he is likely also absorbing some of your heat and feels reassured knowing exactly where you are, just like dogs who sleep by their owner's feet.
Now That You Know...
As seen, dogs have their own good reasons to sleep curled up in a ball! If this is one of your dog's favorite winter positions, your dog will likely appreciate having a bed built specifically for his needs.
So do your dog a favor and gift him with a fluffy donut doggy bed. Your dog will appreciate the raised rims crafted to create a sense of security while also providing your dog's head and neck with support.
Intrigued by your dog's snowball sleeping position? Then you'll love to read more about your dog's sleeping positions and what they mean.