Dogs love to sleep – so much so, that some dog-owners worry at the amount of rest their pet seems to need, even after a whole night of slumber.
Unless there are some health issues making your pet feel unusually sluggish and lethargic, it is perfectly common for dogs to spend a sizeable portion of the day with their eyes closed. They pick up naps wherever they can, but their internal signals are usually quite alert to even the slightest changes in the surrounding environment, or a stranger approaching the house or cookies being baked in the kitchen.
Every dog’s individual sleep needs are different, but an average of 12-14 hours a day is a good rule of thumb.
Working dogs, such as therapy and protection dogs tend to sleep less because they’re on-call throughout the day and fully focused on the job they have to do. Puppies and older dogs need more naps than healthy, active adults and may be found sleeping 18 hours a day. Homebound dogs have a lot of time on their hands because they don’t have hunt or look for food and shelter. Humans are taking care of all their survival needs, and if they are neutered, then the drive to reproduce is not there either.
The need for supplemental naps, over and above a good night’s sleep, is because canines only get 10% REM sleep as compared to 25% REM that humans experience. REM is a deep state of slumber when dreams occur, and because they stay in that state for a shorter period of time during the night, they make up however they can during daylight hours to be adequately rested.
However, if you would like your pets to be more active during the day, here are a few activities that they will happily participate in, in lieu of rest:
GIVE THEM MORE EXERCISE
• Typically, indoor dogs get walked twice or thrice a day. Make these walks more interesting by staying out longer, taking different routes so there are new smells and sights to explore. If there is a dog play park nearby, take your pet there to socialize and interact with others. Off-leash parks are a very exciting venue as well because your dog can walk and run around without restriction. Make sure the animal is excited and energized when he comes home.
BUY THEM STIMULATING TOYS
• Often, dogs will sleep more than usual because they are bored. Keep their minds occupied with stimulating toys and puzzles, and you may be sure that sleep with be the last thing on their mind for quite a while. Dogs love scavenging for cleverly-hidden treats too, and playing an exciting game of hide-and-seek. Plan daily dates for the two of you to play together, and you’ll soon be rewarded with a very active and alert dog.
TAKE YOUR DOG VISITING
• If your pet is welcome at your family’s and friend’s homes, take him along when you go visiting. If you’re running a quick errand, like going to the laundry or picking up some milk, let him come with you. (Weather permitting.) Even a 5-minute car ride is a fun change of routine, and most active, healthy dogs are big fans of the unpredictable.
MAKE THE NIGHT RESTFUL
• Every dog likes to sleep differently. They may begin the night on your bed, as per your wishes to cuddle, but then they may go off and find their own comfort spot on the floor or on the doggie bed after a few minutes. Don’t force your pet to sleep with you if that’s not their chosen place to get the best sleep.
MAKE GOING OUTSIDE THE LAST THING THEY DO
• A lot of pet-owners take their dog out in the evening, but going outside right before bedtime ensures they have an empty bladder for the next several hours. Not needing to go in the middle of the night helps them sleep a lot better and wake up feeling well-rested.