As the old saying goes, ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ – but, in fact, we should actually be paying a bit more attention to dog sleeping patterns. Your dog’s sleeping habits might be wildly different to any other pooch on the street, but some adult dogs need more sleep than others! How long do dogs sleep in general, and how do you know that your own pet is getting enough?
Your dog’s age is likely to be a big factor in how long they should sleep, but did you know that too much sleep could be just as bad as too little? Excessive sleeping isn’t always easy to spot, either – but help is at hand.
In this guide, we’ll dig deep into sleep and how you can make sure your own dogs are getting the kip they really need. Some dogs sleep for 14 hours or more, some much, much less – where does your pup fit in?
How Much Sleep do Dogs Need?
The average dog sleeps anywhere between 12 and 14 hours a day and not always at night. Older dogs sleep for longer depending on fatigue levels, and believe it or not, most dogs as puppies will need around 18 hours of sleep a day.
It’s all down to activity levels, too. Working canines such as police dogs tend to adapt well to having a set sleep schedule and may even cope with less than the average. Science also tells us that the sleep dogs get differs from the REM sleep we are used to.
The typical dog doesn’t tend to drift into a deep sleep as much, which means you’re likely to see adult dogs snooze fairly lightly. That doesn’t mean they get a poor quality of sleep by any means – just that they don’t necessarily need as deep a rest.
Dogs tend to fall asleep as and when. Unlike people, sleep schedules don’t really apply to dogs – which can explain why their waking hours can differ so much and why some dogs sleep so much in the middle of the day.
Intriguingly, sources suggest that most adult dogs may only really be awake and active for five or six hours a day. A dog’s day is pretty exhausting when you think about it – which is often why plenty of dogs sleep so much.
Do Humans and Dogs Have the Same Sleep Patterns
How much do dogs sleep compared to us? Canines don’t tend to get too deeply asleep, which means humans spend less time in bed on the whole. It is a case of quantity vs quality – dogs don’t necessarily need to fall asleep at set times. That’s why even the most active of pooches will take up serious day sleeping – they don’t have the same responsibilities as us, and therefore, will happily kip whenever they want.
However, most dog owners will encourage their dogs to sleep at the same time as them. A dog adapting to human schedules may toddle off to their own bed whenever we do – but don’t be surprised, just as with human babies, if your puppy wakes up to burn off energy during the night.
Don’t worry if your dog doesn’t stay awake when you do – it is built into the dog system only ever to wake up when they ‘need to’. Dogs spend more time asleep than us – it’s no cause for alarm.
Things that Can affect your Dog’s Sleep
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean they can’t struggle to sleep. Here are a few sleep hampering factors that could be keeping your pets awake.
1) Being Cold
Dogs are just as sensitive to temperature as we are. Keep in mind that they have thick layers of fur, which makes warm summer nights that little bit more difficult. Short-haired dogs struggle in the winter while giving your shaggier pups a good trim in summer makes perfect sense.
2) Separation anxiety
Your dog is likely to be your best friend – and dogs love routine, which means if you break away from them for whatever reason, many puppies or older dogs find it hard to sleep. Establishing a routine, including daily walks and healthy time away from your dog, is the key here.
A particularly tired dog may suffer from sleep apnea or otherwise if they are simply in too much pain. This is why it is so important to pay attention to the dog bed you set up for your pup – particularly when it comes to senior dogs, who will likely need orthopaedic support. Why not get some soft steps for dogs to help them up and into bed?
4) Noise and Outside Stimulation
Just as loud noises can interrupt our sleep, the same applies to dogs. Remember that an average adult dog will have an incredibly acute sense of hearing.
Old age can affect many dogs with regard to how they sleep – it can mean that they struggle to sleep as a result of pain or as a result of bladder problems. Comfort gets increasingly difficult for dogs to manage as they get older, too. Then again, how long do puppies sleep? Longer than you think – activity level and developing bodies have this effect.
6) Needing the Loo
As mentioned above, incontinence problems can affect how much your dog sleeps. If your dog really needs to pee, then regardless of time asleep – and regardless of whether they are house trained or not – they will simply go. If your dog keeps needing to pee or poop, it’s naturally going to keep them awake.
7) Weight Problems
Obese dogs are likely to have a lot of trouble sleeping because excess pressure can restrict their airways. The more they weigh, the harder it is for them to breathe, meaning they will struggle to sleep through.
5 Tips to Help Your Dog Sleep at Night
1) Exercise Them
The key to a dog’s health is through lots of regular exercise, and that goes for good sleep, too. Try and walk or play with your dog shortly before bedtime and you may find that they sleep better. This is good advice to help relieve boredom, too, which can impact sleep.
2) House Train Them
House training can certainly help with the pee cycle, especially if you are raising puppies. Dogs thrive on routine, and the sooner you can break your dog to go to the toilet outside, the better – they will soon learn to go to the loo at a healthy pace.
3) Upgrade Their Bed
Dogs need bedroom comfort just as much as we do. Therefore, consider how supportive their bed actually is. Is it providing them with orthopaedic support? What about cushioning? If your dogs stay awake a lot at night, it might well be down to a ratty old bed that needs throwing out. Check out our article on labrador beds for some natty replacements.
4) Improve Their Diet
As mentioned, obesity leads to all kinds of health problems and sleep issues – if their breathing slows due to their weight, they will be awake a lot. Therefore, take the time to change up their diet gently. Exercise, again, is a must – but a healthy dog at a healthy weight will always get better quality sleep.
5) Check With Your Vet
Sometimes, there may be medical or health issues that you alone can’t support. If your dog is in a lot of pain, it may be worth consulting your vet for advice.
Reasons Why Your Dog Sleeps Too Much?
If you’re wondering ‘how much sleep does a dog need’ – and you’ve come across this article, noticing they get more than 14 hours of shut-eye a day – you might be keen to do something about it. You likely won’t have to worry, but here are a few things to consider.
The Age of Your Dog
Both older dogs and younger dogs are likely to spend more time sleeping than most. That’s because seniors tend to get fatigued or tired more easily, whereas puppies’ developing bodies require as much sleep as possible! Keep in mind, too, that pups will wear themselves out pretty easily!
Some Dog Breeds Sleep More
It’s true that some breeds of pup will likely hit the hay for longer than others. Very high-intensity dogs – such as working canines, farm pets and collies – will need a lot of sleep to reboot their energy levels. Some big, heavy dogs – like St Bernards – are lazy by design!
Separation anxiety can be a major problem for younger pets and specific breeds, such as the bichon frise. As you can imagine, any puppies likely to be worrying about where you are at any given moment will hardly be able to contain themselves, let alone sleep. Calming techniques may help here.
Science dictates that the more energy we expend, the more we will normally need to sleep. Any individual dog that is very active or that works a lot – such as guide dogs – will likely need to take on more sleep than most. This can work the other way around, too, due to boredom (see below).
Dogs with low blood sugar are likely to crash into deep slumbers, meaning they tend to kip for longer than other pups. The best way to regulate this, of course, is to consult your vet – who can help you to get your pet on a healthy diet and treatment plan.
Some dogs who have little or nothing to do will often sleep out of boredom – it really is sad, but it’s true! That’s why it’s important to make sure you walk and play with your pup as much as you can, and where possible, to make sure they have friend other than humans.
A poorly pup is never likely to feel too good when trying to sleep, and long term immune system problems or conditions such as kidney disease can only make things worse. As with the above, your best bet is to speak to a vet who can help you find a healthy resolution. Our list of orthopedic beds for dogs may help you find a resolution to joint problems.
Anaemia is a condition where pets’ red blood cells may fail to function properly, leading to oxygen depletion and long-term illness. Any dogs with anaemia must be treated immediately – sluggishness can be a sign that they aren’t feeling too well and need a blood pressure check.
Hypothyroidism can result in major hormone problems for canines, which can lead to hyperactivity or even sluggishness. Again, it could be a key reason for irregular sleep patterns. As a responsible owner, make sure you take your pet to the vet ASAP.
5 Common Dog Sleeping Positions and What They Mean
Did you know that the way your pets sleep actually have hidden meanings? Here are a few fascinating reasons behind odd sleeping habits.
1) Curled up
Many dogs sleep curled up – it seems fairly natural and cosy, and any time you see a dog sleep in this way, you’re pretty likely to leave them to it. However, there are a couple of interesting reasons why a pup might spend hours a day in this position, and it’s both to do with protection as well as comfort.
2) Sleeping on their side
If your pets spend plenty of time sleeping on their side, it generally means that they are at complete ease with you. Side sleepers will generally not need for the heating to crank up or for you to cool them down. This tends to be a sleep position that many humans prefer, too – so it’s very much like mimicking their owners.
3) Sleeping on their back
With paws and tummy up, a back sleep pose shows that your pup is completely and utterly relaxed. It’s the ultimate sign of trust for any dog owner, and a dog’s sleep in this position is likely to be pretty deep. It also means that, on the whole, this pup is likely to sleep just about anywhere you put them. Scientists also claim that this position puts internal organs up and out in the open – meaning pups that do this really don’t fear any kind of attack.
4) Head resting on Paws
This is sometimes known as the sphinx pose, and it’s so-called because your pup will gently settle their head on their paws. While this may seem like a comfy position, scientists believe it’s unlikely that pups will get much REM sleep at this angle. That, intriguingly, is because it’s something of an action pose.
5) Sleeping on their Tummy
Tummy sleep is a bit different from the Sphinx in that pups will often splay their paws away from their heads. This is another pose that indicates your canine is ready to leap into action and that they are not necessarily resting deeply – but it doesn’t mean that they are ready to attack!
The Last Word
As you can see, dogs sleep depending on all kinds of factors. Some sleep for longer due to age or sheer tiredness, while others may have underlying conditions. On the other hand, some sleep for less time – and can suffer from sleep apnea – as a result of anxiety, bladder control, or even weight.
The fact is, your average pup will likely need up to 14 hours a day, but it’s not unheard of for a healthy animal to fall short of 12 hours a day.
As shown, there are plenty of ways for you to help with how much sleep your pet can get. We always recommend you get in touch with your vet if you are particularly worried, but on the whole, dogs sleep for as long as they need to.
They don’t have stressful lives like many humans do, which means they can pop a snooze or two in whenever they like.