Today’s post was written by guest contributor Sloan McKinney. Please remember that different dogs have different needs, and this is intended as a guideline, just like our other informational posts, such as best distances for walking a dog and first aid for pets. This post contains affiliate links, which means you don’t pay anything extra, but we make a small commission.
If you’re like me, and you have a household with dogs of different breeds, you may be surprised at the differences in sleeping patterns from one dog to another. While one dog may spend a large portion of the day snoozing in its kennel, another may be alert most of the day, watching for UPS deliveries, squirrels, butterflies, or anything that moves on the sidewalk.
The first time you perceive such vastly different sleeping patterns, you may be a little concerned. Is one dog sleeping too much? Or is the other dog sleeping too little?
Determining Normal Sleep Habits
As shown in the accompanying infographic, the average dog will sleep 12-14 hours per day. If your dogs have adjusted to your sleep patterns, which most do eventually, they’re sleeping around eight hours at night. So the other four to six hours required will occur during the day in the form of naps.
Determining just how long those naps should last for each dog will vary by the type of dog. Many reasons exist to cause a dog to sleep more or less than the average.
- Active working dogs. Dogs like police dogs or service dogs will tend to sleep less because they’re active much of the day alongside the humans with which they’re working. Dogs like German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers that are often bred for this type of work also may naturally sleep less, even if they are companion animals and not active working dogs.
- Passive working dogs. A dog that works passively, such as one that guards livestock, may sleep a bit more during the day, allowing it to be on alert a bit more during the night. Breeds like Sheepdogs or Great Pyrenees may follow a similar sleep pattern, even if they are companion dogs rather than livestock guardian dogs. Many of these types of dogs are large breeds, which also naturally need more sleep than an average-sized or small dog.
- A puppy will need more naps than the average adult dog, in part because the young dogs naturally need a lot of sleep and in part because the young dog may wake up once or twice in the night during housebreaking training.
- Older dogs. As dogs age, they’re going to sleep more, especially during the day in the form of naps. If the dog was really active during its younger years, this increase in its amount of sleep might seem dramatic to you, but it’s usually a natural part of the dog’s aging.
Most dogs will follow these sleep patterns. However, if you have any concerns over a sudden change in your dog’s sleep habits, it’s best to have the animal examined by a veterinarian. While it could be the result of something serious, it could also be as simple as something like lactose intolerance causing digestive problems and interrupting sleep.
Keeping Your Dog Active
If you find that your dog is napping so much during the day that it isn’t sleeping well at night, which is interrupting your sleep pattern, you may need to find a way to keep the dog more active during the day. A dog that has a boring daily routine may tend to sleep too much during the day.
- The infographic shows that you can stimulate your dog during the day through activities such as dog daycare or with a new toy. Volunteerism is great for many dogs. And another of the best ways to keep a dog active during the day is with exercise. Walking your dog more often will represent a good physical activity for both of you!
To help your dog get the best sleep possible, a dog bed is recommended (at least during the day.) My dogs are big fans of memory foam beds with bolsters, like this one from Jax and Bones.
If your dog sleeps on your bed with you, we’ve found that a mattress like Casper Sleeper really helps all of us get a good night’s sleep!
About the Author: Sloan McKinney is a journalist based in Southern California. After writing about pop culture for a number of years, she has recently begun writing for a new audience. Inspired by DeAnthony, her cat, as well as her dog Max, Sloan now hopes to help other pet owners guarantee their animal companions happy and healthy lives.