Why Does My Dog Tuck His Paws Under

Why Does My Dog Tuck His Paws Under?

Last Updated: August 20, 2023
correct answerThe Short Answer is:

When a dog sleeps with his paws tucked under and curled in a ball, it could be a sign that he feels insecure or anxious, but it could also be a sign he feels cold. You should always pay attention to how your pet uses his paws to communicate. Your dog’s paw movements are never random; he is trying to communicate with you

In this article you will know the answer to the query “Why Does My Dog Tuck His Paws Under?“.

It would be great if dogs could talk but that does not mean they do not communicate. As their friend its your responsibility to understand what they are trying to tell you. 

Why Does My Dog Tuck His Paws Under

Taking a look at a dogs sleeping position can give you a sense of how they are feeling such as whether they are relaxed anxious or ready to move again. Paws tucked under are one of the most common sleeping positions for dogs. 

Does it look like the dog is very comfortable and cozy but is he really? We’ll explore this and other sleeping positions for dogs in this article as well as ways dogs communicate with their paws.

Two reasons that my dog tucks his paws under when he lies down?

There are actually two positions that the dog assumes when his paws are tucked under and each of them indicates something different.

Curled up

The fetal position refers to a dogs sleeping position in which he curls up in a ball head to tail with his paws neatly tucked under his body. These positions offer maximum protection to dogs so they often prefer them. When a dog curls up he protects the most important part of his body his underbelly.

Animals in the wild hold this position naturally so it may be partly influenced by instinct.

In contrast canines and other animals in the wild curl into a tight ball to defend themselves from aggression. This behavior should be regarded as a red flag as it implies your beloved pet is not feeling quite an at ease. When your dog curls up and tucks his paws he does not feel secure enough. Canines can also suffer from anxiety. You should pay attention to anything they say if something troubles them since they do not have many ways of expressing themselves.

It may also be that your dog sleeps curled up because hes cold. This position is used by animals in the wild to conserve heat. Winter is the season when dogs prefer to sleep in this position more often among house pets. Although the house may seem warm enough to you keep in mind that dogs sleep on the floor where it can be a bit drafty.

Maybe you should consider putting a light blanket over your dog if you see him curling up and tucking his paws in his sleep.

Belly down

In this position it does not seem as cozy as the fetal position and it is a sign of anxiety. It indicates fear or submission when the dog lies down with his belly on the ground and his paws tucked under. Puppies and young dogs often do this when they are adjusting to a new environment.

When you first get the dog do not be surprised to see him sleeping like that. Currently he is evaluating his new apartment and family.

He may seem like a nice person but he does not know what to expect from you so for now he is being cautious and sleeping comfortably with his vital organs protected.

When the dog feels more confident he’ll probably switch to a more comfortable sleeping position.

Four sleep positions that show a dog is comfortable

Belly up 

Its not just that a dog looks adorable when hes lying flat on his back with his belly up and paws in the air; hes also totally relaxed when hes doing so.

The position may not seem comfortable to you as humans do not sleep with their limbs in the air but its perfectly natural for a dog to sleep this way.

It indicates that the dog feels perfectly comfortable in his environment as he leaves his underbelly exposed.

Hence he can sprawl with his paws in the air without being concerned about danger.

During the summer dogs prefer this position since it allows them to cool off.

As you probably know dogs do not sweat through their skin like humans do but they do have sweat glands in their paws.

Dogs can efficiently eliminate excess heat by sleeping with their paws up in the air. Furthermore the fur on the underbelly is short and fine so he probably appreciates the air against his skin.

On the side

It is common for dogs to sleep on their sides with their legs crossed in front of them. In this position the dog is relaxed and does not fear leaving his underbelly exposed.

Dogs sleep on their sides so that they can move their limbs freely while they dream.

Often it will seem like hes running around while asleep or his limbs will twitch as he sleeps. I wouldnot disturb him – hes probably dreaming about chasing a cat or going to the park.


This is a clear sign of affection when the dog jumps into your bed and snuggles next to you. Warmth is both physical and figuratively important to him but it is also a sign of trust.

Since your pet knows you are not a threat he sleeps with you without any problems. Instead you are their protector.

A dog who sleeps with a paw on you indicates affection as well as the need for reassurance. Keeping you close to him ensures that you would not disappear from his mind.


A dog lying flat on his belly with its legs stretched out is sometimes called the Superman position.

Dogs are not training to save the world they just want to be ready to pounce back on their feet and ready to act at the slightest sign of movement.

Having this position allows him to be up instantly if his humans invite him to play.

Most dogs who fall asleep in this position are very energetic and drop down exhausted in the middle of the room but they do not want to spend much time napping.

Why do dogs curl their paws whilst asleep?

Curling his paws while sleeping is a dogs way of protecting his soft and exposed underbelly. In addition sleeping in this way allows him to conserve heat by keeping the sweat glands in his paws on his body.

Why does my dog curl his paw whilst I pet him?

Now thats an entirely different story. This is the way a dog reciprocates affection when he curls his paw while you’re petting him.

It makes him happy when you rub his fur with your paw so he is trying to imitate you.

A paw might end up just hanging in the air but he’ll often place it on your arm or leg as a way of saying how much he loves you.

How else will a dog communicate with its paws?

Have you ever experienced that mildly annoying feeling when your pet keeps pawing at your legs while you’re trying to work read or watch TV?

Its not a powerful movement but its extremely persistent. This is probably the most common way for a dog to seek your attention. It might not sound like he is whimpering but he will keep pawing until you stop whatever you are doing and begin talking to him or petting him.

Why do dogs flex their paws?

There are times when a dog will raise one of its front legs and flex its paw when he realizes he did something he should not have.

As you hold up your ruined sneaker and scold your dog the dog puts his paw up. Its so sweet! It’s like he’s trying to say ‘I’m sorry!’ or ‘Please don’t be angry with me!’ and chances are you will soon forget all about it when he gives you a pat on the back.

You should not do that but you probably would not be able to resist when the dog misbehaves.

What causes paw knuckling?

If your dog walks or runs differently than usual you may have a health problem. If your dogs paws are knuckling you should not overlook this symptom which is common among pet owners.

When a dog is up on his hind legs resting or when he is walking he can be seen knuckling under. He might not do that with every step he takes but its something you need to consider.

A paw injury or infection is often to blame for this problem. The first step is to examine the affected paw and look for scrapes cuts inflammation or foreign objects like pebbles lodged inside.

An antiseptic ointment applied to the paw in such cases might easily resolve the problem.

There are a number of serious medical conditions that can cause paw knuckling including:

  • Arthritis
  • Degenerative myelopathy
  • Degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine
  • Diseases of the nervous system

How should knuckling be treated?

There should be no problem with the dogs paws so you should take him to the vet if he keeps knuckling under. A variety of tests may be required to determine the cause of the knuckling.

To get rid of the knuckles you must treat the underlying health condition.

During the rehabilitation period no-knuckling socks might be useful if your dog has a neurological disorder or needs surgery for a spinal problem.

They are available for both the front and rear legs and offer joint support to help the dog place the affected paw properly.

You can also have your dog wear boots which can be found at specialized pet stores.

Even if your dog has a degenerative condition such medical devices would not be able to stop the progression of the disease but at least they will help your dog walk more comfortably.

Additionally your dog may benefit from personalized rehabilitation programs designed to build muscles and strengthen his legs.


You can learn a lot about your dogs feelings from the way he sleeps. When a dog sleeps with his paws tucked under and curled in a ball it could be a sign that he feels insecure or anxious but it could also be a sign he feels cold.

Dogs sleeping with their bellies up do not have a care in the world and are completely at ease.

You should always pay attention to how your pet uses his paws to communicate. Your dogs paw movements are never random; he is trying to communicate with you

Share on:
Amanda Dogs Trainer

Amanda (Author)

With over a decade of experience, Amanda is a distinguished dog trainer. Her expertise in canine behavior has transformed countless lives, fostering harmonious human-canine connections. Through compassionate and personalized approaches, she empowers owners to understand and connect with their furry companions, creating a legacy of joyful tails and transformed lives.

Osvaldo Maciel Dogs Trainer

Osvaldo Maciel (Content Reviewer)

Osvaldo Maciel, a stalwart in the field with 14 years of experience, is a revered dog trainer. His journey is defined by a profound understanding of canine behavior, shaping unbreakable human-canine bonds. Osvaldo guides owners to connect with their beloved pets, leaving an indelible mark of happiness and transformation. His legacy shines through the countless lives he has touched.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *