How Do Dogs Sleep

Dogs sleep differently than humans

Dogs sleep differently than humans, but why is that? Their individual sleep phases are much more sensitive than ours. They also have a more pronounced need for sleep – dogs will sleep a lot if you let them. You can fall asleep in a matter of seconds, but you’ll be wide awake just as quickly if you need to.

Our four-legged friends are amazingly good at adjusting their sleeping and waking rhythm to us humans. This means that when we go to bed, our four-legged friend goes to sleep too. We, humans, are responsible for this adaptation because basically, dogs have a healthy and innate resting rhythm. In feral animals, the recognition of the need for rest is still innate, but in our domestic dogs, the “insistence” is no longer recognizable. On the contrary: we have to teach them the need for rest again, which they lost through breeding and their relationship with humans. Life as a watchdog had nothing to do with “I’ll get my sleep when I need it”. They should always be operational and ready to defend the house and yard.

So how much sleep still counts as normal? How many hours does our four-legged friend need to recover? And what do we do when he just won’t sleep?

Sleep Needs: How Much Should Dogs Sleep?

Alter The average need for sleep
0-3 months 14-17 hours/day
4-11 months 12-15 hours/day
1-2 years 11-14 hours/day
3-5 years 10-13 hours/day
6-13 years 9-11 hours/day
14-17 years 8-10 hours/day
18-64 years 7-9 hours/day
over 64 years 7-8 hours/day

Everyone is different and needs different amounts of sleep. It depends on the routine and the trained inner clock. The usual amount of sleep we humans have is between six and nine and a half hours a day. But how much should our dogs sleep? Our four-legged friends sleep, doze, and relax a total of at least ten, but often up to twenty hours a day. This is not unusual for fur noses. They don’t sleep soundly all the time but doze off for many hours. That means they’ll be wide awake again as quickly as they can fall asleep. Giraffes, horses, and cows sleep just under two to a maximum of four hours a day. With an average value of 10.7 hours, our four-legged friends are in the golden middle of the animal kingdom.

Let sleeping dogs lie!

As the saying goes: “Sleeping dogs should not be awakened”. You should note that. If we don’t sleep through and are constantly being woken up, we also tend to be restless and therefore aggressive, unfocused, or sensitive. And so it is with the furry family members. Give them a good night’s sleep, otherwise, the unbalanced sleep pattern could promote anxiety and aggressive behavior – they also make them more susceptible to illness.

Only wake up in an emergency and if so with a gentle voice and strokes, but never abruptly. Dogs are even better at dealing with hunger and thirst than with a lack of sleep. It is very important that you establish a ritual of rest. It is not uncommon for some dogs to first have to get used to the fact that they don’t have to be constantly at the ready. Lay down quietly with him and practice these phases.

That’s how important sleep is for dogs

Lack of sleep weakens the immune system in two- and four-legged friends alike. Studies have shown that sleep-deprived dogs initially become overexcited like small children, then become unfocused and grossly motorized with a nervous and easily irritable manner. The first states of aggression can be a warning signal that the body is lacking sleep. In addition to acute diseases, chronic diseases can also be the result. It is important to recognize this before irreparable physical damage occurs. Of course, it doesn’t always have to be lack of sleep that promotes illness. A general overstrain over a long period of time leads not only to dogs, but also to us humans, to the fact that the body as a whole is weakened and more susceptible.

So that your dog sleeps restfully

It is therefore very important that your four-legged friend gets enough rest, relaxation, and deep sleep. So that he sleeps restfully, you as a dog owner are asked to recognize when it is enough to live out his energy.

First of all, optimal conditions for healthy dog ​​sleep must be created. This means that there must not be constant hustle and bustle near the sleeping place so that the curious four-legged friend is not constantly kept awake by new stimuli. A noisy environment is unsuitable. It should also be possible to darken the room in the evening or at night.

We hang on to:

  • Set up the dog’s sleeping space in a quiet corner;
  • Make sure that the sleeping place – the dog basket or the dog bed – is comfortable and soft;
  • Make sure not to drape toys or other stimuli nearby so he doesn’t get distracted;
  • Establish regular rest, recovery, and sleep times.

What should the ideal place to sleep look like?

The convenience of the place to sleep should not be neglected. A raised place to sleep is ideal, which dogs prefer based on their basic instincts. That’s why they love to use the couch for a nap, even if it’s not suitable as a permanent place to sleep.

On the floor, drafts and cold can bother you. Make sure that you set up the sleeping place for your dog at ground level, i.e. on the floor, with a dog basket or dog bed. A dog bed should therefore have a raised base if possible. Of course, you should also pay attention to the quality and condition. If the surface is too hard, the dog can experience uncomfortable pressure points or skin irritation. If it’s too soft and doesn’t find any support when standing up and sags, then it needs too many compensating movements to keep its balance – this puts a strain on the joints. Older dogs in particular should be spared this balancing act.

Tip: Take some time to choose the dog bed and compare the price-performance ratio of the offers.

Tips for better dog sleep

We want to give you four tips for better dog sleep so your best friend gets the restful sleep they deserve. Letting off steam, playing and long walks contribute to physical exertion, but are often not enough on their own.

Physical and mental exertion

In addition to physical workload through sufficient exercise and activity, mental workload also plays a role in good dog sleep. Clicker training, agility, dog dancing or tracking require not only the muscles, but also the head.

Avoidance of stress

Stress also has a negative effect on dog sleep. A stranger visiting the household, loud voices and the hustle and bustle can prevent him from getting tired in the evening. If your four-legged friend is prone to such situations and sleeps badly or little anyway, it is particularly advisable that he already has a permanent place to sleep in a quiet corner.

Set up an evening routine

You should not feed the last meal in the evening too late. Give your four-legged friend some time to digest before you go for the last walk to relieve himself at about the same time in the evening.

Rule out health problems

If you follow all the tips but your furry friend is still restless, you should rule out any health problems. Maybe there are other symptoms that stand out? Go to a vet you trust and have your dog examined.

Sleeping position for dogs: It’s funny how differently four-legged friends sleep

Depending on how big your fur nose is and how much space it needs, you have to choose the sleeping corner where you want to place the dog bed accordingly. Some four-legged friends need a lot of space because they stretch out all fours, while others lie curled up in the basket and make themselves very small. But the sleeping position not only depends on personal preference but also on the outside temperature. In warm temperatures, the four-legged friends like to lie stretched out or on their backs, while they often sleep curled up in the colder seasons.

The sleeping positions of dogs are very diverse. Sometimes it’s really funny to see how our four-legged friends lie while sleeping. We want to show some sleeping positions. And? Do you recognize your four-legged friend anywhere?

When dogs sleep, they dream!

“When dogs sleep, they dream!” This statement is absolutely true. Because all mammals do this. Dogs also have a REM phase (rapid eye movement phase) in which they often twitch violently, have rapid eye movements, and make noises. In this phase, strong dream activities arise. Sometimes it also happens that they run in their sleep. It’s fun to watch, but don’t worry, they can do nasty things in their sleep too – they snore, unfortunately!

Dogs can always sleep and are therefore not nocturnal – is that true?

Regarding sleeping behavior, we have already mentioned that dogs adapt very well to us humans. Dogs can always sleep and are therefore not nocturnal: So that’s not necessarily true. Whether your dog is nocturnal or not also depends on when you go to bed. If you are nocturnal, then your four-legged friend is inevitably too. He is a pack animal and will adapt.

To remember: dogs need their cap sleep. And they even dream like us. Nevertheless, they adapt to our sleep patterns. If you set up a nice place to sleep, they will be happy to use it and be able to rest there every time. This is how living together works – like sleeping!

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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