September 04, 2020 5 min read

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When you bring your dog or puppy home, you may be concerned when they spend most of their day sleeping. Depending on their age, breed, and temperament, it is completely normal for a dog to sleep much more than us.

Dog Sleep Habits

Puppies can sleep for 18-20 hours every day. They need ample rest to allow their bodies and minds to develop. This amount of sleep may seem excessive, but puppies grow much faster than humans, so their bodies are working hard, even when they are asleep! Larger breed puppies not only need plenty of sleep, but they should have limited exercise. Their joints and bones are much more prone to injury because of their lack of coordination. Consult with your vet to see if your puppy falls into this category and how you should balance exercise, playtime, and rest.

Once a dog is done growing, they don’t need quite as much rest. However, they will still usually spend about 12-14 hours a day sleeping. Dogs have a very different sleep cycle than humans. They fall asleep very easily but also wake up more often.

Older dogs and specific, large breeds may need more sleep than others. For example, Newfoundlands, Mastiffs, St. Bernards, and Great Pyrenees are much more inclined to spend their days lounging than your Chihuahua, Dachshund, or Yorkie.

Sleep Habits for Specific Types of Dogs

Working dogs, like herding or police dogs, are much more active throughout their day. They usually spend a lot of time not only physically active but also mentally. This means they need more rest.

Dogs that are kept in homes as pets have much more time to rest throughout the day. Their sleep schedule is often uninterrupted while we are away at work. They are not as prone to disrupted sleep schedules as working dogs.

The level of activity your dog gets on a daily basis will determine how much sleep they need. The more activity they get, the more sleep they will need!

Like humans, dogs experience two types of sleep cycles. Slow-wave sleep is when they are resting and sleeping lightly. Once they get into the REM stage, or rapid eye movement stage, dogs are in a deep sleep. They will dream, often moving their eyes, feet, and mouths. You may even hear them bark and whine!

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Defining a Schedule

Puppies develop better habits when they are kept on a set schedule. It makes potty and crate training much easier for them and you.

Getting a puppy on a sleep schedule means getting them on YOUR sleep schedule. Keeping them active throughout the day will help them sleep better at night. It is important to let them rest when they are tired. However, if you are gone all day, they will likely sleep all day, meaning they will be wide awake and ready to play when you get home.

If you want to sleep in, that means getting them out and tired later in the evening. If you are an early riser, you will need to get them up and out when you wake up. They will fall into line with your routine if you give them time and consistency.

Sleep schedules should also coincide with bathroom schedules. Bathroom schedules coincide with your dog’s eating schedule. When your dog eats, they will need to go out and go to the bathroom, once they have gone to the bathroom, they will likely want to play for a bit. Once they have had time to play, they will be ready for a nap.

Puppies should also be allowed to rest after training sessions, even if they didn’t do a lot of physical activity. Using their brains to problem solve can actually tire them out quite a bit. It is important to let them recuperate.

If you run into problems with your dog’s behavior it may be attributed to their lack of routine. Establishing their routine sets them up for success in your home. Being part of their wake up and bedtime routine will also prevent any anxiety linked to sleep schedules.

Allowing a dog to sleep in bed with you may prevent them from sleeping properly. They are very light sleepers so your movement can bring them out of deep sleep. Having their beds somewhere noisy will also create some restlessness. Keep this in mind when deciding where your dog should sleep.

Dog Sleep Percentages

An average pet dog spends about 50% of their lives sleeping. This number be smaller for working dogs. Their sleep cycles may vary from dog to dog, but collectively, half of their day is spent asleep!

10% of a dog’s sleep cycle is spent in REM sleep. This is the deepest stage or rest for both humans and dogs. Also like humans, some dogs dream while in REM sleep!

Dogs spend about 20% of their day awake but in a state of rest. Bigger dogs and puppies may spend more time in this state. Older dogs may as well.

Although it does not seem like much, dogs spend about 20% of their time being physically and mentally active. Since it is such a small percentage, it makes that time even more important. When you are home with your dog, try to spend time actively playing with them.

You can utilize their awake time to teach them new tricks, train them out of bad habits, walk with them, and take them out into the world. Keeping them active will allow them to have much more restful sleep. It will also help them behave better and keep the bond strong between you.

Dog’s sleep schedules are very different from ours. They spend a huge amount of time resting and sleeping. They can usually fall asleep at the drop of a dime but can be woken up the same way. Since they are such light sleepers, you will notice that they nod off any time there is nothing going on. This is totally normal and should be allowed!

The time they do spend awake should be very active. Keeping them busy will help them rest better. Better rest alleviates behavioral issues, health problems, and anxiety. A good sleep schedule for your dog is a keep part of their health and well-being. This information will help set you both up for success!

Nicole Devault Author of A good dog sleep schedule

Nicole DeVault

Nicole is a professional dog trainer who has been in the business for about 5 years. She has two dogs of her own. Milli is a ten-year-old Beagle with plenty of sass to go around, and Axel is her three-year-old Pit bull who has more energy than anyone knows what to do with. Both of her dogs are rescues who came to her with their own set of issues. Working with troubled dogs is where her passion for dog training started. She has grown to learn that teaching people how to communicate with their fur babies allows them to enjoy happy and stress-free lives together.