How long should dogs sleep? Canine sleeping habits answered

For some of us sleep comes so easily. Others, dealing with insomnia or disturbed sleep, crave that vital rest and recuperation.  It is a much talked about subject – how well we slept, whether we had dreams. Like people, how long dogs sleep and their sleep patterns vary. Have you ever wondered how long dogs should sleep? It’s something that I have questioned as my spaniel seems to spend vast amounts of the day snoozing.  Here’s what I found out.

How long should dogs sleep?

Just as people’s sleep habits will vary from person to person, the sleep habits of our canine friends can vary greatly depending on the age, size and the breed of the dog. On average, a dog will sleep between 12 – 14 hours a day.  Larger breeds or puppies can require around 18 hours of sleep. Most dogs will sleep while their owners are sleeping, which is roughly 8 hours at night. Naps taken at various points throughout the day make up the remainder of the sleep time.  That’s a whopping 10 hours of sleep during daylight hours for a big dog or a puppy.

What does your dog’s sleeping position tell you?

The position in which a dog sleeps can tell us a lot about how relaxed the dog is.  Many dogs feel most comfortable curled up in a ball sleeping nose to tail. Dogs in this position have their legs tucked in too so don’t tend to twitch or move much.  If a dog sleeps on his side, this shows he is very comfortable and does not feel threatened by his surroundings. Sleeping on his stomach allows a dog to nap but it also allows him to get up onto all fours quickly if necessary.

What are the sleep stages in dogs?

Your dog goes through 3 sleep stages: non rapid eye movement, rapid eye movement, and short-wave sleep.  Humans spend 25% of their sleep time in REM (the sleep stage where we dream), whereas dogs only spend 10% of their sleep in the rapid eye movement state.

What to do if your dog isn’t sleeping through the night?

Unlike humans, it is very unusual for a dog to experience insomnia.  If your dog isn’t sleeping it could be due to many reasons. Does your dog have a comfortable, quiet place to sleep that is warm enough for him? It may be that moving his bed to a different room or adding an extra blanket at certain times of the year does the trick. Is your dog getting sufficient exercise in the day? If not, increasing your walks could resolve the issue. If your dog gets plenty of exercise, the lack of sleep could be due to arthritis pain or another health issue, which needs further investigation by a veterinarian.

Why won’t your dog sleep in the car?

Not all dogs find it easy to sleep on a car journey.  Some dogs are so excited at the thought of going in a car that they just can’t settle down. Others are simply too anxious to relax enough to sleep.  Ensuring your car is properly equipped for travelling with dogs is a great way to reduce anxiety in your dog. Simply installing a vehicle-specific pet barrier such as a Travall Guard means that the dog has a comfortable area at the back of the vehicle.  The vehicle-specific design ensures a rattle-free fit, so there is no anxiety about the guard being noisy or having the potential to move out of place.  Installing a Travall CargoMat makes the floor of the trunk more comfortable. Adding in a favorite blanket provides familiar and comforting smells. Your dog will be relaxed enough to snooze on a journey in no time, allowing you to get on with the important task of driving.

What to do if your dog is sleeping too much?

So, how long should dogs sleep? There’s no hard and fast answer… but if you’re concerned ask your veterinarian for advice. If you notice your dog is sleeping more than usual there could be 2 reasons for this.  The first is that he is quite simply bored and is sleeping for something to do. Give him more things to play with or more stimulation. If this resolves the issue you don’t need to investigate further. However, if the dog is still sleeping more despite your attempts at keeping him active, it may be that there is an underlying health problem and this may need a visit to the veterinarian’s office.

Information given in this article is not a substitute for advice from a qualified medical professional.  Please consult a veterinarian for advice specific to your dog.