How Many Hours Do Dogs Sleep? Stages, Affect and How to Improve?

Nothing can be as sweet as a dog in complete abandonment, soundly sleeping. But do you ever think if your dog’s sleep is normal? Do you ever wonder why your dog always seems to sleep? Are you worried your dog might have too much sleep?

Several factors could be affecting the amount of sleep your dog requires. Let’s look at some of them. We’ll also discuss some tips on how to give your dog a better quality of sleep.

How much sleep do dogs need?

Experts are still debating why dogs need a lot of sleep. One theory is that dogs are flexible when they sleep, unlike humans. They’re not sleeping all night long. Instead, they are taking naps all day long.

In general, dogs sleep for a total of 12 to 14 hours in a 24-hour cycle. The accumulated short bursts of sleep or naps will be enough to sustain her.

Dog sleeping stages

Your dog’s stages or phases of falling asleep are like the stages of human sleep. But every stage is very short, unlike humans.

  1. Your dog’s heart rate slows down and her blood pressure will drop.
  2. Her breathing will also slow down. She is already entering the short-wave sleep stage at this point.
  3. She can already enter the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep stage in 10-20 minutes. You’ll see it moving her eyelids and rolling her eyeballs under the lids. Her legs can twitch and squirm her entire body.
  4. Experts agree that dogs do dream when they sleep. Research has shown that dogs have the same brain activity during REM as those of humans. If your dog dreams, you will hear her whimpering, snapping her lips, barking softly, or pawing the air.
  5. Dogs don’t need long periods of uninterrupted sleep, according to experts. Even during deep sleep, she will be able to wake up from a small noise. Without having any problems with fragmented sleep, she will be able to wake up. As a guard dog or protector of a pack, this is part of her DNA.

Factors that affect sleep

The most common factors that can affect your dog’s sleep are age, size and breed, activity level, and health.

  • Age

A puppy under the age of four weeks will sleep over 20 hours a day. Like a newborn baby, a newborn puppy will only eat, sleep, and potty for several weeks. 

A puppy over a month old is going to sleep for about 18-20 hours a day. She will have long sleep or naps because she spends her waking hours exploring and using her energy. It is not surprising to see a puppy being energetic one moment and sleeping the next.

Also, ageing dogs need more than average sleep. This is because they are tire easily and have to rest more frequently than usual. Their sleeping patterns can revert to what they need during puppyhood. 

  • Breed

Bigger breeds like Great Danes, Great Pyrenees, Mastiffs, Newfoundlands, and St. Bernards can nap up to 18 hours a day.

Working breeds are genetically predisposed towards less sleep. Examples are the training of German Shepherds as police dogs or Border Collies as farm dogs. They are going to keep their attention on a task and remain active until it’s done.

Furthermore, breeds with short snouts such as Bulldogs, Pekingese, and Pugs usually suffer from snoring, also known as sleep apnea. This condition may cause them to sleep restlessly, which could lead to tired dogs with poor appetite.

  • Activity level

Of course, dogs that have high levels of activity throughout the day will need to recharge more. The more energy she uses up when she’s awake, the more sleep she needs to restore this energy.

Bored dogs or those left alone for long periods tend to sleep more since they don’t have anything else to do. Usually, these dogs are the ones that stay awake at night.

  • Health

This covers both mental and physical health.

Have you recently done something to change the routine of your dog? She could be stressed about the change. The stress could manifest itself in less sleep. 

She could have lost a companion lately like a sister who has gone to college or a brother-dog who has recently died. The depression might make her sleep less than usual.

Also, if you’ve just adopted your puppy, without her dog-mom or littermates, she might feel lost. So, as she adjusts to her new home, she won’t sleep much. If you put her all by herself in a kennel, she may feel lonely and restless.

A dog suffering from physical issues will either sleep less or more than usual. In particular, diabetes and hypothyroidism can cause dogs to be lethargic and sleep a lot.

When to be concerned

Your dog will instinctively sleep when she needs to. But the amount of sleep or the sleep pattern can change based on changes in her environment and life.

But if you see a sudden drastic change in the sleeping habits of your dog, you may want to watch her closely. If the new habit persists for a couple of days and more symptoms appear, you need to be concerned. Pay close attention to lethargy. Sometimes lethargy is confused with excessive dog sleep. But it could be a symptom of many serious diseases or illnesses.

The cause could be one of several like:

  • • Stress: if their routine or environment has recently changed, they may experience severe mental stress; symptoms include depression, withdrawal, and lack of appetite.
  • Insufficient food or water: If she is dehydrated or has no adequate nutrition for her body type, her energy level may fluctuate, affecting her sleep cycle.
  • Hypothyroidism: this is a condition where your dog’s thyroid gland is not working properly; this usually is accompanied by sluggishness.
  • Other illnesses or diseases: these could be diabetes, Lyme disease, parvovirus, etc.
  • Side effects from medicines: your dog might be taking some medication like steroids that could be affecting her sleeping pattern.
  • Physical injury: Your dog may have a wound, injured foot, or hot spots that irritate her so much that she is unable to sleep; she usually licks or scratches the area affected.

If you see any symptoms stated above, then consult your vet immediately.

How to improve your dog’s sleep

Determine what is affecting your dog’s sleep. It is the quality of sleep that matters as much as the amount of sleep your dog gets.

  • If you have just brought your new puppy or dog to your home, share your bed with her at night so that she will not be lonely.

Keep the crate close to your bed at night if you want to keep it in a crate. As she grows older, you can gradually move the crate away from your bed. But make her feel safe for the first few nights by keeping her close to you.

A clock and a towel-wrapped warm bottle could also be placed near her as she sleeps. The clock imitates a dog’s heartbeat while the warmth will make her feel that she is still with her littermates. These might help your puppy or dog get a good night’s sleep.

If you live in a noisy neighborhood, try playing soothing music or using diffusers that scatter scents that are calming but safe to dogs. These could help reduce your dog’s anxiety or fear of a new environment.

  • If you have an older dog, make sure that she has a comfortable bed that will take into account her various ailments such as arthritis. Also, don’t stop playing with her, though the activities may be gentle versions of what you’ve been doing. She still needs stimulation, both physically and mentally. Take short walks, make her play with chew toys, and give her belly rubs.
  • Make your dog use her energy in fun ways. If you can find the time, walk your dog before you go to work. Leave her with toys that stimulate her mind and body. Walk with her again when you return home from work.

If you can’t be with her all day, invest in a dog walker’s services. Your dog will get to socialize with humans and other dogs. And she’s going to be tired but happy at the end of the day and most likely get a well-deserved rest.

If you can’t find a good dog walker, enroll your dog in a dog daycare. She can socialize and get training at the same time with other dogs. This may be a more costly method, but it will not bore your dog at least.

You could also ask if your office will allow you to bring your dog to work. You and your dog might need to adjust to a new routine. But, at least, your dog will not be left home alone.

  • Develop your dog’s consistent daily routine. A routine will make her feel safe because within a day she knows what to expect. This routine does not mean that her activities are scheduled for a minute. Just block off her day, so she knows when she’s going to walk, play, eat, train, and rest. Naturally, her sleep cycle will also develop a routine.

You can also develop a bedtime routine for her. Before bed, do not play an exciting game. This could increase the levels of her energy again. Try to give her a massage or cuddle her to relax and prepare her for bed. Don’t forget to make her go to the toilet.

  • Give her nutritious and well-balanced food. Don’t underfeed or overfeed her. If you don’t know how much to feed her, then consult your vet. PUT LINK HERE
  • If your dog is a snoring breed, consult your veterinarian about the appropriate measures to help your dog with her condition.
  • Create a “room” for your dog. It should be a quiet space where she can rest comfortably.

If you don’t share your bed with her, invest in a good bed for your dog. During the winter, put a warm blanket in her bed and a cooling pad in the summer.

If she sleeps in her kennel, make this as comfortable as possible with bedding that is thick enough for your dog.

  • If you think she is stressed, determine what is causing it and try to remedy it.

Did you move to a new neighborhood? Take her for a walk around the block to get used to the new scent.

Has her human brother or sister gone to college? Put the sibling’s piece of clothing near your dog so she can smell the scent of the brother or sister.

  • Schedule regular check-ups so that you can nip any physical problems before they turn into serious illnesses.

Sleep plays a critical role in the health of your dog, just like in humans. Your dog will need plenty of opportunities to rest. But you need to make sure she also has exciting activities that make it worth her rest. She’s going to dream about happy things like playing with you or eating her favorite treats.

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