Dog Hackles up When Sleeping

Dog Hackles Up When Sleeping: What Does It Mean?

If you have ever noticed your dog’s hackles up when they are sleeping, you might be curious about what it means. Hackles are the hairs on a dog’s back that stand on end when they are feeling threatened or anxious. While it is not common to see a dog’s hackles up while sleeping, it can happen occasionally. Here are some possible reasons for this behavior:

1. Nightmares: Just like humans, dogs can have nightmares too. If your dog’s hackles are up while they are sleeping, it could be a sign that they are having a bad dream or experiencing some level of fear or anxiety in their sleep.

2. Physical discomfort: Dogs may also display hackles up while sleeping if they are experiencing physical discomfort. This could be due to an underlying health issue or even an uncomfortable sleeping position.

3. Environmental factors: Dogs are highly sensitive to their surroundings. If they feel uneasy or threatened by something in their environment while sleeping, their hackles may go up as a protective response.

4. Past experiences: Dogs may have had negative experiences in the past that still affect them, even in their sleep. If they have been through a traumatic event, their hackles might go up as a subconscious reaction.

5. Breed traits: Certain dog breeds are more prone to having their hackles up, even during sleep. Breeds such as German Shepherds or Shiba Inus have a more pronounced hackle response, which means their hackles may be more likely to go up during sleep as well.

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6. Age and health: Puppies or older dogs may have more frequent hackle responses, including while sleeping. This could be due to their vulnerability or weakened physical state.

7. Involuntary muscle twitching: Sometimes, a dog’s hackles might go up during sleep due to random muscle twitching or movement. It is similar to how our body can sometimes twitch involuntarily during sleep.


1. Is it normal for a dog’s hackles to go up while sleeping?
While it is not common, it can happen occasionally. If it only happens occasionally and your dog is otherwise healthy, it is usually nothing to worry about.

2. Should I wake up my dog if I notice their hackles up while sleeping?
It is generally best to let your dog sleep unless they appear to be in distress. Waking them up abruptly might startle them and lead to unnecessary stress.

3. Can I do something to prevent my dog’s hackles from going up while sleeping?
If your dog’s hackles up while sleeping is becoming a frequent occurrence, it may be worth consulting with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues or anxiety.

4. How can I help my dog if they are having nightmares?
Providing a comfortable and secure sleeping environment for your dog can help reduce the chances of them having nightmares. Ensuring they have a regular routine and plenty of physical and mental exercise can also promote better sleep quality.

5. Should I be concerned if my dog’s hackles are up while sleeping every night?
If your dog’s hackles are up while sleeping every night and they show signs of distress or discomfort, it is advisable to seek professional advice from a veterinarian.

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6. Can I train my dog to prevent their hackles from going up during sleep?
While you cannot directly train your dog to control hackle responses during sleep, you can work on building their overall confidence and providing a safe and secure environment to help reduce anxiety.

7. Should I seek professional help if my dog’s hackles up while sleeping persists?
If your dog consistently displays hackles up while sleeping and it is accompanied by other concerning behaviors or symptoms, it is recommended to consult with a professional dog behaviorist or veterinarian for a thorough evaluation.

In conclusion, while it is not common for a dog’s hackles to go up while sleeping, there can be various reasons behind this behavior. It is essential to observe your dog’s overall well-being and seek professional advice if you have any concerns or if the behavior persists.