Sleep is a vital part of a dog’s day, and contributes towards both their physical and their emotional health. In fact, sleep is so important that a healthy adult dog needs between 12 and 15 hours of sleep in any 24-hour cycle. This can be up to 20 hours in puppies, elderly dogs, and larger breeds!
What does dog sleep look like?
Dogs are termed as ‘polyphasic’ sleepers, which means they sleep in lots of little chunks, rather than the one long chunk that we humans sleep in. Despite this, they are social sleepers, and can adapt to our sleeping schedules fairly easily. So, it’s not uncommon for dogs to grab 8 or 9 hours of sleep at night with us, but then top up their sleep hours with lots of napping during the day.
Why do dogs need so much sleep?
Well, for one, it’s essential for a healthy immune system: losing out on sleep can lead to a 30% drop in a dog’s immune function. What’s more is, very much like in humans, sleep helps to restore emotional and physiological systems – without it, you’re very likely to have a grumpy, short-tempered Fido. Another benefit is that sleep consolidates learning, helping your pup to remember the training and experiences they’ve encountered earlier in the day. If your pup is deprived of sufficient sleep over a long period of time, they could actually be more prone to impaired brain function and Alzheimer’s disease.
How can we help our dogs to sleep?
First and foremost, we need to make sure the environment is suited to good sleep: it should be a good temperature, relatively quiet and peaceful, dark, and away from any distractions. The most important part of this, though, is to respect your dog’s choices – they may prefer to sleep on the floor one time, but next time they may want to curl up in a nice, comfy bed!
In order to really set your dog up for good quality sleep, also make sure they get enough exercise during the day, as well as mental stimulation, like training sessions, puzzle feeders, or sniffaris. It’s always best to make sure they go into the night feeling full, too, as low blood sugar can lead to waking up early or not sleeping as restfully!
Author: Alyssa Ralph, Your Dog’s Club Guru