What your pet’s SLEEPING position says about their personality6 min read

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From the protective ‘superhero’ to the dependent ‘sneak’, experts have revealed what your pet’s favourite sleeping position reveals about their personality. 

British animal behaviourist, Professor Peter Neville, shared his insights after a study from pet wellbeing website Itchpet.com revealed two-thirds of owners share their bed with their dog or cat. 

He said: ‘When choosing their sleeping positions, our pets are broadly seeking to maintain and enhance their close protecting bond with us, rather than any desire to control us or monopolise territory.

‘But they do cleverly learn to use their appeal and warm benefits they bring to us to train us to meet their individual night-time needs and desires and to shift our sleeping habits to accommodate theirs.’

Here, a closer look at the 10 most popular pet sleeping positions and what they say about your furry friend…   

1. The Faithful 

Lies at the foot of your bed by your feet

Restless sleeper: Dogs and cats at the end of the bed want to keep an easy escape route

Restless sleeper: Dogs and cats at the end of the bed want to keep an easy escape route

While this seems like the actions of a dutiful and worshipping dog, you are of course horizontal in bed and so there is no respectful acknowledging posturing here. 

More likely is that you are a restless sleeper and this is as close as he or she can be to you while keeping an easy escape route.

2. The Knee Nuzzle 

Nestles in the bend of your legs as you lie in the foetal position

Handing over responsibility: This cozy position allows pets to totally relax and sleep like a baby

Handing over responsibility: This cozy position allows pets to totally relax and sleep like a baby

Warmth and all-enveloping security are the key attractions here as you all curl up in that ‘artificial womb’ together. This pet can be more than happy to hand over all responsibility for their well-being to you as if they are a puppy or kitten again. 

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In this perfectly protected environment, they don’t need to make any more decisions and literally sleep like a baby.

3. The Donut Divider 

Curls up in a ball between your legs

Complete quiet: A cat or dog snuggled in this way is able to 'sound-proof' their sleep

Complete quiet: A cat or dog snuggled in this way is able to ‘sound-proof’ their sleep

Smaller pets can enjoy the comforting slight compression of your legs on either side and blankets above and below, provided you stay still of course. 

Both cats and dogs are able to hear far higher frequencies of sound that are ‘ultra-sonic’ to us, so by getting themselves in a sound-proofed warm ‘bubble’ bordered by our legs can help protect them from any unwanted noises that might disturb them.

4. The Wall 

In between you and your partner

Centre of attention: This position could suggest the pet is closer to one partner than the other

Centre of attention: This position could suggest the pet is closer to one partner than the other

This position might be an innocent warmth and security choice from your pet, but there may be an element of strategy here too. 

A dog, or sometimes a cat, that is especially bonded to one partner might just be keeping the other at distance and is trying to ensure that he or she gets whatever attention might be on offer.

5. The Pillow Bandit 

Takes over the entire pillow

Needy: A Pillow Bandit wants to be in prime position so that you see them when you wake up

Needy: A Pillow Bandit wants to be in prime position so that you see them when you wake up

A less likely position if you snore, this position is usually the preserve of smaller dogs and cats who find the extra softness. As soon as the Pillow Bandit wakes, they will usually insist on waking you up too. 

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Your face is immediately accessible to be targeted with a rub or a lick to ensure that breakfast is delivered pronto.

6. The Under-Cover Lover 

Under the duvet

Close bond: A dog or cat under the covers will be enveloped in your 'common smell'

Close bond: A dog or cat under the covers will be enveloped in your ‘common smell’

It’s the ultimate in dark safe dens to hide away in a reassuring warm heap where body smells and pheromones combine to create a comforting ‘scent fug’.

Cats and dogs are notoriously indifferent of their owners breaking wind and this paradoxically might add to the security of an enveloping ‘common scent’ in sleeping under the duvet. 

Just as some people sleep better under weighted blankets, some dogs also relax better if they are lightly compressed by bedcovers.

7. The Cuddle Bug 

Cuddles you in the crook of your arm

Seeking reassurance: A Cuddle Bug can feel the reassurance of your heartbeat

Seeking reassurance: A Cuddle Bug can feel the reassurance of your heartbeat

This gets the pet closer to your face where he or she can probably feel the reassurance of your heartbeat, while yet also affording a quick escape route to other parts of the bed or to the floor if you turn or alter position in your sleep.

The Cuddle Bug may also aspire to being a fully-fledged Pillow Bandit, and this position may just be a short reaffirming step in their process of training you to accept and enjoy their advancing expectations.

8. The Sneak 

Inches further up the bed to get closer to your head

Dependent: The Sneak crawls towards the pillow in search of your reassuring breathing

Dependent: The Sneak crawls towards the pillow in search of your reassuring breathing

Often also with aspirations to become a Pillow Bandit, the Sneak is probably quite a dependent soul who loves nothing more than to rest and snooze ever closer to your face where he can feel your heartbeat and hear your gentle breathing while you sleep.

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9. The Superhero 

Sprawls out on their belly next to you

Protector: A superhero at the end of the bed is ready to move at the sign of any disturbance

Protector: A superhero at the end of the bed is ready to move at the sign of any disturbance

This may be a bit of a compromise position by dogs – and only very rarely by cats – who want to keep close secure contact with you for a while and enjoy being petted on the head and massaged down their backs as you relax, but which prevents them from overheating if your bed is very warm. 

It may also be that the Superhero chooses this splayed position rather than curling up or stretching out so they are increasingly ready to look after you if there are disturbances at night. Your welfare is their welfare after all.

10. The Octopus 

Sprawled out in the middle of the bed and you’re right on the edge

Taking advantage: This pet knows how nice you are and that you would do anything for them

Taking advantage: This pet knows how nice you are and that you would do anything for them

A very common position for many pet owners to find themselves in in the morning. The pet starts out nicely sharing bed space with their loving owner, but gradually expands occupancy of the bed during the night, perhaps to get more comfortable and dissipate heat if you are too warm. 

This pet knows how nice you are, taking advantage of your good nature as you move to accommodate them as they steadily stretch out in your half-awake state and shove you, ever so gently, to the side.