What Can I Do When My Dog Kicks Its Back Legs While Sleeping?

Some dogs behave like perfect pups when sharing your bed; this article isn’t about them. This article is about those rambunctious rovers that kick their back legs like they’re trying to make a field goal from midfield.

So, what can you do if you notice your dog kicking their back legs in their sleep? The answer depends on the reason, which can be many things. Some well-placed scratching should do the trick if your dog has an itchy spot. But there are other reasons for their kicking as well.

This article will explore a few reasons why dogs may kick in their sleep, amongst other things, and when you should be concerned.

Does your dog twitch while sleeping? This video has the information you’re looking for.

What Causes Dogs To Kick While Sleeping?

Dogs kicking in their sleep is generally not a cause for concern. They may be doing so because they are dreaming, have an itch, or are experiencing muscle spasms.


Studies have proven that animals, dogs included, can dream. While we cannot ask them precisely what their dreams are about, scientists have concluded that most of the time, it’s about day-to-day life. Think about why they may kick their back legs while awake, such as getting scratched or running, which is likely occurring in their dreams.

It’s normal for a dog to move while sleeping—“active sleep” is a regular part of a dog’s sleep cycle. Dogs are known to kick, wiggle, whine, or even bark in this sleep stage. Dogs have a similar sleep cycle to humans but generally spend much less time in each, usually waking roughly every 16 minutes.

Typically, kicking the legs occurs only during the active sleep part of the sleep cycle, and dogs will fully relax once they’re deeply asleep. However, if you notice that your dog is constantly in the “active” stage and never sleeping soundly, you may want to see what you can do to help them rest better.

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It’s common for dogs to scratch more at night than during the day. During the daytime, they are usually distracted by other things and can manage the itch, whereas, at night, they may have trouble sleeping.

While a bit of itching here and there is normal for dogs, it may require your attention if it becomes obsessive. Unfortunately, countless issues could cause your pup to be excessively itchy, including fleas, dry skin, hotspots, and allergies.

Helping your dog stop scratching himself at night can be a matter of trial and error. The answer may be as simple as more frequent grooming or something more complex like allergy tests or parasite treatment. Consult your veterinarian anytime you are unsure of the causes of your dog’s behaviors.

Muscle Spasms

Random, minor muscle spasms are relatively common in dogs and other animals, especially when sleeping. Twitching often occurs in puppies and senior dogs. A slight movement or vibration is within normal range, whereas more aggressive, repetitive movements may cause concern.

Severe muscle spasms may be symptoms of an underlying issue, such as epilepsy, nerve damage, or an orthopedic problem. Shaking of the legs, severe tremors, or sleeping with their eyes open are all signs that your dog could be in serious distress. Take them to the vet immediately if any of these symptoms emerge.

How Can I Help My Dog Sleep More Soundly?

If your dog seems to be in a constant state of restless, active sleep, you may wonder what you can do to help them rest better. If your dog is not sleeping next to you on the bed, they must have a comfortable place to sleep. A good quality dog bed can make a world of difference in how your dog can rest.

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Make sure your dog’s bed is big enough for them to sleep in any position they feel is comfortable, including sprawled out. Some dogs can get into pretty silly positions to get comfy! An appropriately sized bed will ensure that they don’t feel cramped or end up rolling onto the floor. Memory foam is an excellent option for older dogs, and a washable cover is a must-have.

Like humans, ensuring your pup gets plenty of exercise throughout the day will improve sleep quality immensely. You’ll be amazed at the difference incorporating even just a 15-minute walk can make.

Keeping your dog on a consistent schedule is a great way to manage their sleep cycle. If they start and end their day at the same time daily, their body will develop a routine. Keep feeding times as consistent as possible, and ensure they know what to expect throughout the day.

Learn more about what your dog’s sleeping position means in this video.


Our dogs are often some of our closest friends, and it’s natural to worry and want the best for them. Thankfully, a dog kicking in its sleep is not a cause for concern and is usually more endearing than irritating.

Unless your dog is experiencing other concerning symptoms along with leg spasms, you shouldn’t be concerned. Give them a good rub on the belly or scratch on the bum, and they will likely be back to dreamland in no time.

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Nadine Oraby

My name is Nadine; I am a passionate writer and a pet lover. People usually call me by the nickname “Joy” because they think that I am a positive and joyful person who is a child at heart. My love for animals triggered me to create this blog. Articles are written by vets, pet experts, and me. Thanks for visiting. Your friend, Nadine!

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