For most humans, sticking with a consistent sleep schedule is absolutely critical. But when watching our dogs, it seems like they’re all over the place with their sleep schedule. Some pups bark at night and sleep all day while others seem to take a nap whenever they get the chance while still squeezing in time to check on you.
So when should you worry about your dog’s sleeping schedule?
Any dramatic change in your dog’s sleeping habits or schedule is a cause for concern. Whether that’s a sudden increase in sleeping or staying active during times that your dog would normally be asleep.
Before you worry about your dog’s sleep, you should have a good idea of what’s normal for dogs and an understanding of what’s normal for your individual canine.
What’s A Normal Amount Of Sleep For Dogs?
It’s normal for dogs to sleep roughly half of every day (around 12 to 14 hours) but senior dogs and young puppies will sleep even longer. Both puppies and senior dogs can sleep 18 to 20 hours a day without any cause for concern. Even younger adult dogs can sleep well over 12 hours a day if nothing is keeping them interested or their owner is asleep is as well.
Then there are variations between breeds and giant breed dogs (like Mastiffs and Great Danes) will often sleep more than their smaller counterparts.
Dogs that prefer sleeping over interesting activities like playing, walking or eating should also been seen by a veterinarian.
But not all changes have to be dramatic in order to be concerning and more subtle changes can be cause for concern too. Especially if they occur with other changes in behaviors like increased anxiety or lethargy.
When it comes to medical concerns, it’s rare that increased or reduced sleep will be the only change so pay close attention to the whole picture of your dog’s health and habits.
When Should You Talk To Your Veterinarian About Your Dog’s Sleeping Habits?
If you’re ever unsure, it’s worth consulting your veterinarian and talking to them about your dog’s sleeping habits.
But as a general rule, any sudden change in your dog’s sleeping is cause for a veterinary exam. That could be staying active during the night when your dog is normally asleep or sleeping through the usual activities of the day.
Sudden changes are usually pretty easy to spot but it’s just also important to understand your dog’s individual sleep habits so you can spot subtle changes that occur over time.
How Can You Improve Your Dog’s Sleeping Habits?
Whether the issue is sleeping too much or too little, exercise and routine are some of the best tools for helping your dog sleep better.
Exercise and routine can help anxious dogs get better quality sleep but can also help dogs that are sleeping too much get on a better schedule.
Start by making sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise as appropriate for their breed and age. Additionally, you can try exercising a few hours before bedtime to help burn off extra energy.
However, make sure you give your dog time to wind down after exercise.
Our dogs are very routine driven so try to set a regular routine with plenty of signals that your dog knows it’s almost time for bed. This could be anything from turning off the lights to brushing your teeth.
If you keep your pre-bedtime ritual the same, your dog will quickly pick up on it and start to wind down with you.
You can also try adding some relaxing habits into that routine as well. Petting, light brushing, and any kind of relaxing time together can help dogs get ready for bed. Calming scents like chamomile or lavender can help your pup relax along with soft gentle music.
For dogs that are sleeping too much, adding extra opportunities for stimulation can help keep them active and get them on a better sleep schedule.
Extra stimulation could come from a longer morning walk, a food puzzle to keep them busy during the day or hiring a dog walker for a mid-day stroll. Anything that keeps your dog interested in what’s going around them is a great addition.
Sleep isn’t just important to us- it’s also critically important to our dogs. While our canine companions don’t always have the same sleep schedule that we do, they still need to have some kind of routine to stay healthy.
Still, it can be hard to really pin down their routine as dogs have some strange sleeping habits.
But equipped with some basic knowledge, you should have a better idea of what’s normal for your pup when it comes to sleep.