In a culture where productivity is valued and you’re encouraged to constantly be doing or planning something, it’s no wonder you might look over at your favorite flopped-out fur-pile on the floor next to you and wonder if you should be taking cues from your cuddle-pup. It makes sense that your dog’s sleep habits might spark some curiosity because, sometimes, they just don’t make sense. Knowing how to interpret sleep habits is useful. And as long as nothing remarkable has changed behaviorally, you can feel at ease knowing your dog is doing his job by slumbering where and when he wants.
How many hours of sleep does a dog actually need in a 24-hour period?
While the answer will vary depending primarily on your dog’s age, the range is from 8 to 13.5 hours. As with humans, the bulk of it takes place during the night, but you can typically count on around three additional hours of nap time during the day. Unlike humans, who get their sleep in one solid block, dogs’ sleep cycles (and lack of meetings) allow for a bit more flexibility when it comes to snooze time.
A puppy will sleep anywhere from 11-20 hours per day due to intensive brain and body development. The more of each they need, the more they’ll usually sleep, just like human babies. Unlike us, however, their habits will develop into adult dog habits by the end of their first year when they reach their full size and weight. As they inch toward senior status, they’ll align more closely with human habits and will require more down time for energy recovery. They’ll begin napping more frequently, as they did in their early stages, which is perfectly normal and reflects a slowing metabolism (also normal). Regular checkups with your vet are important, so if a behavioral shift or an overall lack of energy seem to permeate their days, you’ll want to make sure you’ve crossed possibilities like arthritis or illness off the list.
Other Factors for Sleep
Other variables come into play when it comes to sleep such as breed, diet, health, and activity levels. For example, Bernese mountain dogs are happy to let you sleep in, whereas the herding tendencies of border collies make for very alert canines. An overweight dog will sleep more than a fit dog, for example. An active dog will sleep better than a sedentary dog. And exercise helps induce deeper sleep, contributing to lower stress levels and better overall health.
Tracking exercise and sleep time for yourself is hard enough. Tracking your dog’s sleep and exercise to make sure she’s getting the most out of life can feel overwhelming. A GPS-connected Wagz Freedom Smart Dog Collar can help keep tabs on your dog’s wellness.
The Freedom Collar tracks your dog’s step count, sleep time, and exercise time, and the patented Kognition™ platform uses Fit Units to tally your dog’s activity and wellbeing into one, overall Health & Happiness Score. Wagz Fit Units are a relative measure of how much energy your pet is expending (step count, exercise, sleep time, etc.) and take numerous data points into consideration to let you know how active your pet is from day to day.
Your dog’s behavior and habits will naturally shift over the course of his lifetime, but being able to understand what is happening, and why, can certainly take the guesswork out of the mix. If you perceive a shift in sleep patterns and find he's suddenly sleeping all day, take note of other behaviors to see if there’s cause for alarm. Is he slow to wake in the morning? Have his eating habits, behaviors, surroundings, or cognitive function changed? While there’s not necessarily reason for alarm, play it safe—check in with your veterinarian.
Does your dog sleep in bed with you? Should she?
There’s no right or wrong answer. Some pet parents are adamant that restful sleep and the comfort of having a pet nearby go hand-in-hand, while others claim the very opposite. A survey by the American Pet Products Association showed that almost half the dogs in the U.S. sleep in their owners beds (32% were large dogs, 41% medium, and 62% small). Among the other half, those pups not sleeping with their pet-mamas and papas, 86% were often found sleeping nearby. Still, people who prefer few night time disruptions might opt for a beast-free bed, and it does really come down to preference.
Consistency will yield the most success when it comes to your dog’s sleep—dogs LOVE routine. A regular and special place for her to rest, along with a healthy amount of exercise to fuel the rest itself will definitely help. Spend time observing your dog’s habits, and rely on tracking tools to help whenever possible so you can both rest easy. Overall wellness and a good night’s sleep is, at the end of the day, the goal for all.