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A Pooch's Point of View: Why Does My Dog Sleep So Much?

Written by ADAPTIL Expert, published on April 18, 2023

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Yawn! Let sleeping dog's lie - that's a human saying isn't it? It means you should leave something alone, in case disturbing it might cause trouble. I can relate to that because there's nothing worse than being in a deep sleep and being woken up with a start; I can get quite startled or grumpy if that happens!

Most humans know that dogs like to sleep, especially if we've been for a long walk, have eaten a big meal, or we're tired from playing. It's our way of recharging our bodies and minds!

Dogs can sleep for up to 12-14 hours a day, but not all at once. I take most of my sleep when my humans are in bed at night, but then I also like to have a number of naps during the day to re-energise.

Although we do like our naps, there could be other reasons why dogs sleep so much, you humans ought to be aware of.

Why do Dogs Sleep so Much?

When we are Puppies

When I was a puppy I slept even longer; sometimes I could sleep most of the day but that's because my body was growing and developing; when I woke up I was full of energy and I would explore everything around the house and the garden - I had a lot to discover which was quite exhausting, so then I felt like another nap! I wasn't very good at sleeping at night to start with, but my human was very patient; my owner used ADAPTIL's new puppy checklist and he made sure I had a very comfy bed, that I had lots of exercise before bedtime, and he used ADAPTIL Junior to help me feel more calm and comforted. He gradually left me alone for longer periods of time and that worked after a little while!

When we are Adult, or Senior Dogs

cute little dog resting on owners lap

Now that I'm an adult, I don't sleep as long as I did when I'm a puppy. But I have a doggie friend who lives in the next street; he's older than me and he sleeps a lot! I suppose it takes a bit longer for his body to recover after a long walk and he has been a bit poorly recently. His human has had him checked out by the vet; he's got joint pain, so he now goes for shorter walks, then he comes home and has another nap which seems to help. Rest is good!

For Medical Reasons

Sometimes us pooches can get poorly too, so humans should watch out for:

  • A change in your dog's sleeping pattern. Some older dogs can get confused by day and night, so might be active during the night and sleep during the day.
  • Have they lost interest in playtime? If your pooch is listless and sleeping instead of a routine play, there may be some underlying cause.
  • Are they less active than normal?
  • Is there a change in their eating or drinking habits?
  • Have you noticed they are urinating more?
  • Are there signs of anxiety?
  • Are they overweight?

We can't tell our humans exactly what's wrong, so my human best friend always asks the vet if I seem a bit out of sorts; once the vet prescribed supplements to reset my body clock and I've had other treatments when I've been in pain - it's always best to get us checked out.

Breed

spaniel dog sleeping

Did you know that the amount of time a dog sleeps can be influenced by a dog's breed? It's true! There's this huge St. Bernard that I see when we go to the park; he loves to walk but not for a long time as he gets quite tired and then he needs another sleep; I expect he gets quite tired carrying that big furry coat around all the time!

There are other breeds that like to snooze a lot too: The Bulldog, a Shih Tzu or a Basset Hound, and then there's the Mastiff and the Pekingese! Greyhounds like a nap after a run too. They all like to have a good rest and just chill out...zzzz!

Changes around the home

dog relaxing in dog bed

We dogs are fairly adaptable creatures, but sometimes we can get stressed and then our energy levels might drop, making us sleep more. I got quite unsettled last year when things changed in our home; one day our routine was normal, then the next day everyone was at home and it stayed like that for months. Lockdown has a lot to answer for, and I did get anxious for a while; fortunately my human realised that the changes were affecting me after a while and he worked hard to reassure me - the first thing he did was buy an ADAPTIL Calm Home Diffuser and put it close to my bed. That really helped me and I quickly settled down again.

But now that things are getting back to normal, I hope I can adapt back again but I'm sure my human will know what to do; he's already getting me used to being at home alone by working in another part of the house where I'm not allowed and he's been keeping to my routine for playtime, food and training.

We get Bored!

When there's nothing better to do, what can you do but sleep! Dogs need a lot of stimulation to keep us happy and healthy. It's lovely to have a nap if we've been busy exploring or going out for a long walk, but we also need to be kept busy if we are alone for any length of time. I love my puzzle toy - my human makes sure he leaves it, full of treats, beside my bed when he goes out. That helps a lot and keeps me from chewing his slippers - which I used to do when I was bored!

We're hot!

Don't forget that most dogs are always wearing fur coats, so in the height of summer we need to keep cool! I will normally find a nice cool tiled floor to lie on and have a snooze before I go back outside again.

It's important that humans keep an eye out for us when it's very hot - heat exhaustion can be dangerous - so look out for signs of drowsiness, lethargy and panting. Make sure we have lots of water to drink and keep us as cool as possible - and only take us for walks when it is cooler in the evening or early morning.

Did you know?

  • Dogs have different sleeping positions:
    • If we are curled up with our nose to our tail it means we are very comfortable, and we often like the self contact we have in this position.
    • If we are lying on our side, it means we feel safe and comfortable.
    • If we are lying on our back, we might be trying to get cool
    • If our legs are splayed out, we are probably just half asleep - and ready to jump up quickly if someone wants to play
    • If we are laying with our back to you (or another dog), it means we feel safe and comfortable with you.
  • We may circle round and round before we actually flop down into our bed. Apparently, this is an instinct that came from our ancestors when they used to sleep outside and circle around to pat down the grass or leaves to make it warm and comfortable to lie on - a little bit like making a nest!
  • You may also wonder why we sometimes scratch our bed before lying down? When it was very hot, our ancestors used to dig a hole so that they could lie down in the cooling soil. Similarly, when it was freezing cold, climbing into a hole helped our ancestors retain body heat to keep warm. Clever, eh?
  • We dream too! You might notice when we are asleep that our breathing gets a bit irregular and our eyes will start to move around or start flickering - this is called REM - but don't panic, it's perfectly normal! Sometimes our legs will also start to twitch and we may even whimper - but we're probably dreaming about chasing a rabbit around a field!

Remember that it's normal for dogs to have lots of naps; puppies need a lot of sleep when they are growing and developing, and senior dogs might need more sleep as they get older.

Whatever our age, make sure we have a nice comfy bed to snooze in, where we won't be disturbed. Keep an eye on our sleeping patterns and if there's a marked change, always have us checked out by a vet.

Following our expert tips will help to ensure your bond with your dog goes from strength to strength.

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