Sleeping Habits of Dogs
I am sure you have noticed by now that one of the things
that your dog is very fond of is sleeping! Although it can
range based on your dog's breed an average dog sleeps about
thirteen hours a day, which literally means your dog sleeps
half his life away. No one knows for sure why dogs sleep so
much, but it is likely that in the wild the dog needs to
conserve as much energy as possible since its hunt for food
consumes so much energy.
Dogs for the most part have the same sleeping patterns as
humans. The first phase of sleep is a very quiet slow wave
of sleep. Your dog's breathing starts to slow, his blood
pressure and body temperature drops, and his heart rate
After about ten to fifteen minutes your dog will enter the
rapid eye movement or REM phase of sleep. During this time
brain activity is similar to that of the dream phase for
humans and is evidence that dogs have dreams. Of course most
of us who own dogs already know that because we have watched
our dogs try to run, bark or chew in their sleep.
Some dogs are particular about where they sleep, while
others are happy to sleep pretty much anywhere. Older dogs
in particular need a soft place for their bed, as they often
have arthritis or other aches and pains. The pattern for
dogs that are about to lay down for a nap is similar, most
dogs will tend to circle before lying down. This is an
instinctive carryover from their days in the wild when a dog
would circle to get the brush below him to lie down, so as
to make a comfy and hidden bed for the night.
Your dog should never be disturbed while he is sleeping. The
saying "Let sleeping dogs lie" comes from good logic. A dog
that is asleep and awakened suddenly due to a disturbance
may instinctively react aggressively and bite with no
warning. You should make sure that your children know that
if Fido is sleeping to just let him be.
It is a good idea, as with anything with your pet, to
habituate your dog as to where it should sleep. If you are
bringing home a new puppy you should determine ahead of time
where you want him to sleep and get an area set up for
sleeping. The first few nights a puppy is with you and away
from his littermates it will be hard and he will likely
whine a little bit. If you give in and bring him into your
bed or bedroom you can almost guarantee that he will not be
leaving anytime soon. So establish whatever you consider to
be good habits right from the beginning and stick with them.
Wild dogs make dens just like their ancestors the wolves,
and domestic dogs need a sleeping place where they feel
safe. Start your dog out immediately with its own
dog crate in a
quiet corner and crate train it properly, making the crate
seem a refuge and not a place of punishment and separation,
and even when the dog is grown its crate will be a welcome
refuge when the dog is stressed or even just wants a nap.
When your training matches up with the dog's instincts, it
is a win-win for you both.
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