Everything to Know About Your Dog & Sleep
Ever wondered what your dog does when you’re not around? While a rambunctious pup certainly might find time to get into trouble, more than likely your dog is snoozing away while waiting for you to get home. In fact, most dogs spend as much as half of their days asleep.
What a life, right?
Sleeping too much, on the other hand, might be cause for concern—and it can be easy to overlook. In this post, we’ll explore everything you need to know about your dog’s sleeping patterns, including what’s healthy, what’s not, and what the deal is with all that twitching.
Use these links to jump ahead, or keep reading to learn everything you need to know:
- How Much Do Dogs Sleep?
- My Dog Sleeps All the Time – Should I Be Worried?
- (Not-So-)Strange Sleeping Behaviors to Know
- Sleep & Your Dog’s Health
How Much Do Dogs Sleep?
So, how many hours a day should your dog sleep? It depends.
While humans need about six to eight hours of sleep each night to stay healthy, dogs need about twice that much. About 12-14 hours per day is average.
Of course, that doesn’t all happen at night in one solid chunk. Most dogs are pros at the art of “catnapping” throughout the day, with an enviable (and sometimes quite remarkable) ability to fall asleep pretty much anywhere. And even if they’re not fully asleep, some of that time might be spent relaxing (or staring at you lovingly), which is also completely normal.
How Much Sleep Does My Dog Need?
Your dog’s age, breed, and overall lifestyle all factor into their sleeping patterns. Though your dog’s sleep needs depend on these factors, it’s still good to know the average number of hours a dog sleeps. If your pup is getting much more or less shut-eye than the average dog, you can make adjustments to their activity level or discuss any concerns with your vet.
Here’s the breakdown of suggested sleep hours needed for dogs by age:
- Puppies – If you’re wondering how much do puppies sleep, the answer is a lot. Just like human babies, puppies tend to play hard and then tire out easily, so they need more sleep to recuperate. This may vary depending on your individual pup, but the average is between 15 and 18 hours per day!
- Adult dogs – Depending on breed, lifestyle and size, adult dogs need between 12 and 14 hours per day.
- Senior dogs – Older dogs may also need more rest, with most clocking in the same amount of shuteye as puppies (15 to 18 hours per day).
Your dog’s breed plays a role here as well. Some dogs are simply more active and alert by nature, while others love to relax. Common breeds that love to sleep include bulldogs, pugs, Shih Tzus, and cocker spaniels.
Finally, consider your pup’s overall lifestyle. Working dogs, like service dogs or herding animals, usually stay awake more than other dogs. If you and your family are out of the house for long hours, your pup might sleep more simply out of boredom. Overweight and sick dogs may also sleep more than healthy dogs, which we’ll dive into further in the next section.
When Do Puppies Sleep Through the Night?
Getting a new puppy is an exciting time. You can expect a lot of laughs and cuddles — and at least a few sleepless nights! Even though puppies need 15-18 hours of sleep, they don’t get this all at once. Until they’re about four months old, puppies tend to wake up often throughout the night, sometimes as much as every two or three hours.
When you first bring home your new puppy, they will need to adjust to their new environment. Not only are they sleeping in a place with unfamiliar smells and sounds, they’re also adjusting to sleeping without their mom and littermates. These are big changes, and they can cause your puppy to feel anxious and wake up throughout the night.
Why Doesn’t my Puppy Sleep at Night?
Another common reason that young puppies have trouble sleeping all night is due to their limited bladder control. Unlike adult dogs, puppies can’t “hold it” for an entire night. Dogs don’t like to soil the area where they sleep if they can help it, so your puppy will likely whine to wake you up and let you know they need to use the bathroom.
You can expect your puppy to start sleeping through the night when they reach about four months old and has been in their new home for a few weeks.
My Dog Sleeps All the Time – Should I Be Worried?
Most dogs will end up sleeping, or at least lounging, when there isn’t anything better to do. So if your pup conks out again shortly after breakfast, there’s no need to be worried.
Moreover, every dog is a little different. The best rule of thumb is to get familiar with your dog’s routine, and keep an eye on anything that’s a drastic change. If they’re more lethargic than what’s “normal” for them for several days in a row, it may be time to check in with your vet. The same goes if your dog’s new sleeping patterns are combined with other strange symptoms you haven’t seen before, like skin conditions, signs of anxiety, excessive thirst or urination, or changes in eating patterns.
Is My Dog Happy Sleeping All Day?
If your dog is getting a healthy amount of daily exercise (about 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the breed), then they are likely very happy sleeping all day! Dogs need anywhere from four to 10 more hours of sleep each day than humans do. It may seem like a lot in comparison, but this is normal and healthy for dogs.
There are some instances where your dog may not be happy sleeping all day. If your pup isn’t getting the mental and physical stimulation they need, they could be sleeping out of boredom. Being overweight or sick can also contribute to a dog sleeping more than what’s normal for their age (see our sleeping chart above).
Talk to your vet if you think your dog is sleeping an excessive amount due to being overweight or under the weather. Otherwise, continue to provide a healthy level of activity for your pup and rest assured that they are happily snoozing the rest of the day.
Are Dogs Affected by Daylight Savings Time?
Daylight savings time was created during WWI to conserve energy. Despite evidence that it isn’t a very effective measure, the process continues today. Each spring, we “spring forward” one hour, disrupting our daily routines and utterly confusing our dogs. Dogs are creatures of habit, and daylight savings time affects them just as much as it does us. They also have the added disadvantage of not understanding why their person is acting so strangely!
Sleeping, eating, and playing are the cornerstones of your dog’s life, so changes to these routines are a big deal for them. You may find that the disruption causes your dog to be a bit anxious, unsure of themselves, or needy. You can expect your dog to have just as much trouble waking up early as you do, and it may take several days for their appetites to align to the new feeding schedule.
You can improve your dog’s daylight savings time experience by being very consistent with the new routine for the first week or so. You may be tempted to sleep in on your days off, but changes like this will only confuse your dog more. The more consistent you can be with the new schedule, the faster your dog will get on board with it. It will take a little time (and perhaps some extra cuddles and patience from you), but your pup will eventually settle into the new routine just as we do each year.
How Long Does It Take a Dog to Adjust to Daylight Savings Time?
Most dogs will adjust to daylight savings time within three or four days as long as you’re consistent with the new routine. If you have the flexibility in your schedule (and the patience), you can slowly introduce the time change to your dog in 15 minute increments rather than the whole hour at once. However, don’t fret if that’s not an option for you. Dogs are extremely adaptable, and even the most stubborn will adjust to your new routine within a couple weeks.
(Not-So)Strange Sleeping Behaviors to Know
If you’ve ever watched your dog snooze, you’ve probably noticed a few strange behaviors. From barking and whimpering to twitching in their sleep, it might seem alarming at first. But it’s also totally normal. So what gives?
Similar to humans, dogs go through various sleep stages. As they first drift off, their heart rate and blood pressure drop, and their breathing slows down. This stage is “slow-wave sleep,” and it’s the deepest stage of sleep. Within about 10 minutes, however, they move into the next stage: rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep. This is when you may notice them twitching their paws or making audible noises; you may even see their eyes roll back into their heads as their eyelids flutter open and closed.
In humans, the REM stage is known for producing the strangest dreams. Similarly, researchers believe that the increased brain activity during this sleep stage extends to all mammals, including dogs. While we can only imagine what our dogs might be dreaming about, they’re likely reliving memories from the day, from chasing squirrels to fetching toys (or maybe even that delicious Pet Plate meal they devoured earlier).
Sleep & Your Dog’s Health
We know sleeping is important for our own health, and the same goes for your pup. Adequate sleep will help them maintain a healthy immune system, store away (and make sense of) memories from the day, and replenish their energy levels.
Too much—or too little—sleep may indicate a health problem, but it’s important to consult your vet to get a proper diagnosis. Sleeping disorders in dogs are rare but aren’t unheard of, and some have even been diagnosed with insomnia, narcolepsy, and sleep apnea! Most of the time, these disorders are not life-threatening and can be easily managed. But it might be linked to other health issues, such as general injuries, arthritis, hypothyroidism, and other more serious disorders.
Helping Your Dog Get a Great Night of Sleep
Barring any serious complications, there’s a lot you can do to help your dog maintain healthy sleeping habits. The following tips apply to all ages, but especially so for older dogs as they begin to naturally slow down a bit:
- Give them a comfortable dog bed. Some dogs are more particular when it comes to sleeping, so it may take a few attempts to find the perfect bed! A “cuddler” will support a cozy and curled-up position, while a dog that loves to sleep with its legs extended might prefer a bigger space to spread out. Senior dogs may need an orthopedic dog bed to provide extra cushioning.
- Stay active. As the saying goes, “A tired dog is a good dog.” Regular exercise will promote better sleep and overall health.
- Pair with a healthy diet. Nutritious food is the final touch for keeping your pup healthy. Choose fresh, whole food packed with nutrients, and keep an eye on portion sizes to keep weight in check.
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