How Much Sleep Does Your Dog Need? (Ultimate Guide To Dog Sleep)

Dog sleeping patterns are important for their health, both physical and mental.

It’s not just human sleep patterns that have been affected by COVID-19, dogs are also feeling the strain, resulting in a 250%+ surge of pet sleep related searches.

Lockdown has affected human sleep patterns according to King’s College London who has stated nearly two-thirds of the public reported some negative-impact on their sleep, and in some cases, created vivid dreams, longer lie-ins and a change to our sleeping patterns.

The question has been raised to whether this is the same for our pets.

Dog sleeping patterns

Do dogs have the same sleeping patterns as humans?

Yes. Dogs who live in a home with their human owners will tend to regulate their sleeping patterns to match human sleeping patterns.

According to scientific studies, dogs the average human sleeps about seven to eight hours per day, where an adult dog sleeps anywhere from 12 to 14 hours per day – about 50 percent of a dog's day is sleep. Humans also suffer from sleep disorders but the cases are much more difficult to diagnose due to the current state of the modern society. Productivity is often weighed more than personal health. That is why some people, even students, choose to use smart drugs or nootropics like BuyModafinilOnline's Modafinil.

Since March 2020 there has been a +250% increase in organic Google searches for ‘dogs twitching in sleep’ during lockdown, and a +40% increase in people enquiring why their ‘dog is sleeping a lot’ (Google Trends, 2020).

How Much Sleep Does Your Dog Need? (Ultimate Guide To Dog Sleep)

Dr Louisa Graham, a prominent veterinary surgeon specialising in Small Animal Medicine, has partnered with premium dog food brand Laughing Dog, to provide advice and support for pet owners on the importance of sleep for your pooch as lockdown eases.

1. Dog sleeping patterns – how much sleep should dogs get?

How much sleep our dogs need depends on a variety of factors including age, breed, activity levels, diet, environmental conditions and underlying health conditions. It is not unusual for adult dogs to sleep for 12-14 hours throughout the day but due to these variations there isn’t a ‘set amount’ of sleep all dogs should have.

Large breed dogs can sleep for longer than small breeds and sedentary dogs may sleep for longer than active working dogs! What isn’t normal is if you notice a change to their ‘normal’ sleeping routine for example suddenly sleeping more or struggling to fall asleep, as this could indicate health issues.

2. Puppy sleeping patterns - how much should puppies sleep for?

It’s not unusual for puppies to sleep for up to 20 hours throughout the day; sleep is essential for their development and learning. They’re processing so much; new smells, new commands, new routines! You must factor in ‘downtime’ to enable them to recover, process and consolidate their memory.

Most puppies will want to doze after a spate of playing so they must be allowed the time and space to have undisturbed sleep.

3. Do dogs dream?

Dogs share similar sleeping cycle to humans; they have slow wave sleep and deep sleep (also known as REM - rapid eye movement sleep). Because of their sleeping similarities to humans it’s fair to conclude that dogs do actually dream – they just can’t tell us about it!

How Much Sleep Does Your Dog Need? (Ultimate Guide To Dog Sleep)

Dogs enter the deep sleep phase quicker than humans, but they spend less time in it. So, they have to doze more often to compensate which is why dogs can sleep for longer.

During their deep sleep or REM sleep, this is when you can see your dog’s twitching, barking or even chasing things in their sleep. It’s totally normal and its likely in this phase they’re dreaming or reliving their days experiences.

4. Environmental conditions related to dog sleeping patterns

We must be mindful that spending more time at home during COVID-19 we may have interrupted our dog’s sleeping patterns. It’s important we always try and mimic their ‘normal routine’ which may include leaving them alone for parts of the day if that’s what they’re used to. Hot weather can make our pets seem more lethargic/dozy and that’s normal. Keep them cool, out of direct sunlight, never leave them in a hot car, don’t exercise them in the heat and keep them hydrated at all times. Dog sleeping patterns are vitally important for their health and well-being, so maintaining routine is vital.

Cooling mats are useful if it gets too hot. Dogs can snooze at any time of day, but at night-time it is advisable to turn off all gadgets, blue lights and nearby electronic equipment like televisions.

5. Health conditions

Older dogs naturally sleep more, however pain, obesity, osteoarthritis, hypothyroidism, heart and lung issues, and anaemia are just some of the conditions that can make our pets seemingly more ‘tired’. If you are noticing a change in your pets sleeping habits that you cannot explain, discuss this with your vet.

6. Diet is key

It’s important to stick to a diet that suits your dog’s natural activity pattern – so there is no requirement, for example, for ‘working dog food’ in your non-working companion. Feed a good quality, balanced diet in the correct proportion; poor quality food or too many calories can be linked to health conditions which will have a knock-on effect to sleeping patterns.

Some adult dogs are fed once daily, some twice daily; it is thought that dogs fed twice daily nap less but for longer, fall asleep earlier and wake up earlier.

A little snack is likely to be fine before bed, such as Laughing Dog’s new Sleep Tight Treats, which contain natural ingredients like Chamomile and Linseed to help with digestion and to make sure your dog gets a good night’s sleep, however I would avoid a full meal.

What you need to know about puppy sleep

Research by animal welfare organisation, Dogs Trust found that puppies sleep for less time at night than older dogs and both age groups choose to be close to people, when given the option.

How Much Sleep Does Your Dog Need? (Ultimate Guide To Dog Sleep)

The Generation Pup study follows the lives and behaviours of dogs as they grow up, investigated how their sleeping habits change in their first year at 16 weeks compared to 12 months.

The findings reveal that while puppies aged 16 weeks sleep for significantly longer than older dogs during the day, they sleep for less time than older dogs at night.

By comparison, once a dog reaches one year of age, they are much more likely to sleep for longer at night – matching their human owner’s sleep patterns.

The study also threw up interesting revelations about our dogs’ sleeping habits. Given the choice to get close to their humans at bedtime, most dogs (86%) opted to do so.

Similarly, as dogs get older, owners may be more likely to let their canine companion sleep in the same room as them. The percentage of people who let their pooch sleep in their bed more than doubled within the first year, from 13% at 16 weeks to 27% at 12 months.

Dog sleeping habits (research findings)

  • 73% said their dog shows small twitching movements in their legs. This could be many things but 30% said their dog looked as if he/she was chasing something (or someone!) in their sleep.
  • 38% said they thought their pooch spent a lot of time dreaming.
  • 13% said their dog would often snore “very loudly” during the night.
  • 9% said their dog is known to wake up during the night and have disturbed sleep.

The most common sleeping position for dogs

The research also uncovered that the most common sleeping position for a dog is stretched out on their side.

How Much Sleep Does Your Dog Need? (Ultimate Guide To Dog Sleep)

With more people having welcomed a pup into their life during lockdown, Dogs Trust is providing owners and potential owners with top tips to help settle your dog at night to ensure everyone gets a peaceful night’s rest.

How to help your puppy sleep better

  • Include walkies, playtimes and short, fun training sessions within your puppy’s daily routine so they’ve enjoyed using their brains and bodies and have plenty to dream about.
  • Create the cosiest, comfiest den for your puppy somewhere away from the busier areas of the home so they have somewhere lovely to relax undisturbed.
  • Evening routines can help prepare your puppy for a good night’s sleep, and if you tend to do the same types of activities your puppy will learn what to expect.
  • Help your puppy out by reducing anything that is catching their attention, so closing the curtains and settling down yourself can help them switch off.
  • When pups are growing tired, they might suddenly appear to be very energetic and dash about the home, an activity that is often called the ‘Zoomies’. They can also become agitated or restless and might even start to bark or mouth owners by grabbing their owner’s hands or clothing with their teeth. It can be helpful to know this because often owners think their sudden burst of energy means they need more exercise when they really need forty winks.
  • Puppies are born into, and generally sleep, in family groups so they need to learn to enjoy being in a cosy bed all by themselves. This can take a little time, but you can help them by staying close by and ready to respond if they appear distressed.

Rachel Casey, Director of Canine Behaviour and Research at Dogs Trust, said:

“These findings provide a fascinating insight into what the nation’s puppies get up to when the curtains close at night and it’s time to go to bed.

“We know how testing it can be for new dog owners to settle their four-legged friends, especially in the first four months of a puppy’s life, and that’s why we are sharing our top tips for a good night’s sleep.

“Whether it’s making sure your pooch has had the right amount of exercise during the day, has a comfy and safe place to settle down or even just teaching ourselves to recognise signs of tiredness in a dog, these tips could help our pooches to drift off peacefully at night.”

Dogs Trust is calling on people across the UK and Ireland with a puppy under 16 weeks of age to sign up to the Generation Pup study, to help the charity learn more about our four-legged friends.

By taking part you could help us gain valuable insights into how our dogs’ health and behaviour change over time, to find new and better ways to care for our dogs.

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