Sleeping Dogs

The old saying; ‘let a sleeping dog lie’ typically refers to muzzling a bad conversation, but in the literal sense, there are many reasons why we should let a sleeping dog lie.

Different Ways of Sleeping

Dogs sleep in a far different matter from humans, which explains in part why dogs need more sleep than a human. A human follows a binary sleep pattern.

  • REM sleep. The REM sleep pattern yields the deepest sleep, allowing for the greatest rejuvenation of the body. A human will enter into REM sleep easier than a dog, and humans spend about 25% of their sleeping time in REM sleep. A dog only spends about 10% of its sleeping time in REM, which means the dog needs more hours of sleep for full rejuvenation of the body.
  • Active patterns. A human spends much of his/her awake time in an active pattern, either in physical or mental stimulation. A dog meanwhile may only spend about 20% of its day truly active. Another 30% of the day may be spent in a waking pattern, but the dog is inactive.

Different Sleeping Requirements

While the average human requires about eight hours of sleep per day, as shown in the infographic an average dog has a need for 12 to 14 hours of sleep per day. Different types of dogs will land outside of the average range of needed sleep though.

  • Puppies. A younger dog will need up to 18 hours of sleep per day. For the owner of a new puppy it may not feel like the young dog is sleeping that much, thanks to all of the late-night trips outside during housebreaking, but puppies do sleep more than an average adult dog.
  • Older dogs. Just as people tend to sleep more as they get older, dogs that are older will sleep more too. Some older dogs may sleep 16 hours or more per day.
  • Different breeds. A large breed dog will tend to sleep more than a smaller breed. Working dogs, such as service dogs, will tend to need less sleep than an average dog.

Avoiding Sleeping Problems

Some dogs may sleep more than you’d like during the day, leading the dog to be more active at night, which interrupts your sleep patterns. This can be especially true for a dog that’s left at home alone during the day while you’re at work. Dogs that aren’t receiving mental or physical stimulation will tend to sleep more, so you may want to try a few ideas to ensure the dog is stimulated during the day, whether it spends the majority of its time outdoors or indoors.

  • Outdoors. Leaving a dog in the backyard for hours at a time isn’t necessarily stimulating … and may result in a bored dog digging holes or barking constantly. Instead, make sure the dog has some toys while outside. Play ball with your dog, provide raw bones for chewing, or take them on walks to keep outdoor time interesting for the dog.
  • Indoors. Again, toys will help the dog stay awake during its time indoors, as toys can stimulate your dog both physically and mentally. Having another dog in the home can help too, as can using a dog day-care service. And consider training your dog as a volunteer, which will be enjoyable for both of you.

So although it’s important that your dog gets enough sleep on a daily basis, it’s also important that you make sure the dog’s awake time is spent well. And if you want to ensure healthy sleep patterns, especially at night, make sure your dog has a good daily routine, mixing exercise, playtime, and rest time. Additionally, be sure you know your dog’s health considerations, such as possible food allergies, in order to be sure he or she isn’t losing sleep over feeling unwell. Sticking as close as possible to that routine every day will allow the dog’s sleep pattern to more closely match your own!

Dogs Sleeping

Article is Guest contributed by: Amber Kingsley
Amber Kingsley is a freelance journalist and member of a pet enthusiast/animal lover group in her city of Santa Monica whom has donated countless hours supporting her local shelter within operations and outreach.  She has spent most of her research writing about animals, food, health and training.