Do you worry about your dog’s sleep habits? Just like humans, dogs have particular sleep needs, and often, different dogs have different sleep needs.
In general, dogs sleep about 12 to 14 hours each day. This total includes sleep at night and naps during the day. It’s about the same amount of time toddlers sleep.
But your dog’s sleep needs can vary by breed, age, activity, health and other factors. Puppies may sleep up to 20 hours per day and senior dogs may sleep more as well. Larger breeds typically sleep more than smaller ones. Sedentary dogs will often sleep more than working dogs or those with active lives.
When Sleep Is a Problem for Dogs
Unlike humans, sleeping too little is often not a problem for dogs. They are flexible sleepers and can adjust their sleep schedule. They may sleep while you’re away from home or as you sleep at night. They can stay awake for long stretches if engaged in activities. It’s not unusual for dogs to wake up before completing a full sleep cycle.
Sleeping too much can indicate a health problem for dogs. If your dog suddenly sleeps much more than usual, it could be lethargy, which is a common symptom of serious issues for dogs. It could be diabetes, Lyme disease, depression, hypothyroidism, or Parvo-virus. Or, it could be something more harmless and temporary, such as a change in routine, a death in the family, or moving to a new home.
How to Help Your Dog Sleep Well
Give Your Dog a Healthy Place to Sleep.
Dogs can fall asleep anywhere, but a healthy sleep environment will offer the best quality sleep. A dedicated, comfortable dog bed can provide a personal space, sense of security, and help keep the rest of your house clean. Consider your dog’s size, breed, fur, age, and medical needs when choosing a bed for them.
Keep Your Dog’s Sleep Environment Quiet.
Dogs don’t sleep as deeply as humans do. They are always ready to react, waking up ready to defend your home from an intruder or eat breakfast, so even small noises can interfere with their sleep.
Give Your Dog Exercise.
Physical activity and playtime throughout the day can offer stimulation and wear your dog out so they’ll sleep well at night.
Offer a Healthy Diet.
Good dog food can offer the nutrients your dog needs to maintain energy throughout the day.
Don’t Allow Your Pet to Sleep in Bed with You, Until S/he Is Properly Trained.
Many people think it is perfectly fine for their dog(s) to sleep in the same bed right at the beginning. However, this sets up a bad pattern of behavior according to Mark “Dogman” Castillero. “He says when there are leadership issues (just about all of my clients), having the dog share ‘The Throne’ can make getting the dog to listen to you much harder. Once there is NO question of who is the leader then, and only then, can the dog be allowed up on the bed . He must also immediately come off when told. All social animals use location to signify power.
Keep Up with Health Care.
Stay on top of regular vet appointments to make sure your pet stays in healthy shape. A routine checkup can identify serious health conditions early.
Dogs often sleep a lot, and although they typically get enough sleep, sleeping too much can be a sign of a health condition. Offer your dog a healthy place to sleep and talk to your vet if you’re concerned about how much or how little they’re sleeping.
About the Contributor
Mary Lee is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck.com. She specializes in sleep’s role in mental and physical health and wellness. Mary lives in Olympia, Washington and shares her full-sized bed with a very noisy cat.