Unlike human beings, dogs require a lot of sleep! Adult dogs need 12 - 14 hours of sleep, which they cover by resting with you at night and napping during the day. Puppies, who expend a lot more energy in a day, need even more sleep - close to 16 - 18 hours a day. Sleep is crucial for all dogs as it gives them time to revitalize and heal.
Sleep deprivation can weaken a dog's immune system, making it more susceptible to infections and sickness. Sleep-deprived dogs are tired, which can lead them to grow groggy and grumpy towards people.
Thus, a well-rested dog is vital, and an adequate amount of sleep can ensure greater longevity. As a pet parent, you would want to read this article till the end to learn how you can ensure your dog's good night's sleep.
What do you need to know about Dog Sleeping Positions?
Just like you and I, dogs too, have a variety of sleeping positions that help them relax, and these positions often provide valuable insight into how they are doing, mentally and physically. Side sleepers, or dogs that sleep on one side, feel safe, comfortable and relaxed.
Sleeping with the head on top of the paws (the lion’s pose) often occurs during afternoon naps, when your dog is just resting but is ready to wake up and play at any moment.
1. The Donut
A curled up position with the limbs tucked closely to the body usually occurs on cold days, where such a position can help preserve heat.
Another common position is burrowing under blankets or pillows. When dogs sleep this way, they are often looking for some comfort and security. Sometimes, your dog might also fall asleep on a cool surface.
This usually occurs when your dog feels heated up and wants to cool down. Another important sleeping position to look out for is the head and neck on a raised surface. Sleeping with the head and neck raised could be to relieve tension from the spine because it is warmer, or simply because your pet feels comfortable in that position. However, it is also plausible that your dog is experiencing some breathing difficulties. To confirm this, look out for other symptoms such as a higher rate of breathing, open mouth breathing, reluctance to engage in games and exercise and noisy breathing.
3. Superman Position
There are a few more common sleeping positions that you would have come across such as the Superman pose, where your dog sleeps with the belly pressed to the floor and legs stretched out. This is a light nap and indicates that your dog is ready to play anytime.
If your dog curls up around you, or with another animal, it simply means that they want to bond, and grow closer. It is a sign of affection and intimacy.
Another quirky position is the belly-up, where your dog sleeps on its back, with legs up in the air. This usually occurs when they are fully comfortable in their environment and are trying to cool down and relax.
Now, despite the variety of sleeping positions available, there are multiple reasons why your dog might not be sleeping through the night.
Common Reasons Why Your Dog is having trouble falling asleep
- Sleeping Environment of the Dog
A change in your dog’s sleeping environment is a crucial factor in determining their ability to sleep peacefully. New surroundings, new sights and smells, can overwhelm dogs and stress them out. Changing daily routines also contributes to disruptive sleep among puppers.
- Medical Issues
Tummy aches or kidney issues can also cause your dog to wake up constantly at night, for bathroom breaks. Appropriate medication for the same can help change such behavior. Skin allergies, food allergies, hot spots, or flea and tick bites cause excessive itching, and this too can make it difficult for dogs to sleep peacefully.
- Sleeping Disorders
There are a few sleep disorders among dogs as well. Narcolepsy can sometimes affect young dogs. It is a genetic disorder that reduces the level of hypocretin in the body, a chemical that helps maintain regular sleep patterns and alertness.
This condition is not life-threatening or painful, but it is not curable either. It can only be managed by minimizing triggers that tend to wake your dog up. Insomnia is another sleep disorder that is rare among dogs. It usually occurs due to other underlying conditions such as kidney diseases or flea infestations. Tackling these underlying problems can help correct this disorder.
Another sleep disorder is sleep apnea, which is common in obese dogs and flat-faced breeds such as pugs and bulldogs. Excessive internal fat can temporarily block a dog’s air passage, jolting them awake every few seconds, thereby making it impossible to maintain sleep quality through the night. Some common treatments for this condition include exercise, steam humidifiers and surgery.
Why is it important for your Dog to get a good sleep?
A good amount of sleep can ensure that your dog is healthy, with a strong immune system to fight off diseases, and improve their longevity. However, while the benefits of a sufficient amount of sleep for dogs are clear, getting your dog to sleep at night can be an awfully daunting task.
Waking up constantly at night can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule, and we all know how important sleep can be in our busy lives. While you might argue that you love your dog and you don't mind waking up multiple times every night to tend to their sleeplessness, here are a few strategies that can help you help your dog sleep peacefully at night!
Step 1 - Set Up A Routine (And Stick To It!)
As a pet parent developing a routine is the first step toward helping your dog sleep through the night. Your objective here should be to curate a daily routine that you can follow closely on all days of the week. This means there should be designated times for meals, walks, and sleep. This will help dogs recognize when it is time to sleep, thereby making them sleep instantly. Creating and sticking to your routine can help your dog gauge when sleep, meal, and exercise times are. Accordingly, their body clock will adjust and grow compatible with your daily routine.
Furthermore, right before hitting the bed, make it a habit to let your dog finish its business. Also, ensure that the hour or two before bedtime is as relaxed as possible. Such actions will ensure that your dog does not wake up in the middle of the night, either out of restlessness or the need to use the washroom.
Step 2: Create The Perfect Sleep Environment
Unlike human beings, dogs have acutely sensitive ears, and thus, it becomes essential to create your dog's sleep environment in such a way that there are no loud sounds such as footsteps or noises from your neighbours' homes, that could disturb them.
Your dog's environment should be comfortable and of an appropriate size, and adding a warm blanket will help your dog doze off in no time. You could also try using rhythmic beats such as the fan noise, or a ticking close, to induce sleep in your pupper. If you have a puppy, avoid letting them sleep alone. Rather, a crate in your room would be ideal. With time, you can gradually get your puppy to sleep elsewhere.
Step 3: Give Your Dog Plenty Of Exercise
Have you ever found yourself crashing into your pillows after an exhausting day at work? Dogs are the same, too. The more tired they get, the easier it is to make them fall asleep instantly, and through the night.
Dog parents should fit 60 - 120 minutes into their daily routine to take their dog outside to walk or run around. Usually, huskies, retrievers, and beagles require plenty of exercise to tire them out. Plenty of exercises generally guarantees uninterrupted sleep. Physical activity is just as important as mental stimulation (such as playing sniffing games with your pet). Without appropriate physical and mental nourishment, dogs can become anxious due to the lack of movement, and this anxiety can be a contributing factor that keeps them up at night.
Step 4: Teach Your Dog How To Relax
Teaching your dog how to relax can be crucial to lulling them into a peaceful, undisrupted sleep. Furthermore, giving your dog time to relax and unwind can help improve their cognition, learning and memory. It also releases the happy hormone - Dopamine, which can help them feel good.
Training to help your dog relax takes time and should be done every day so that they can learn to settle at cue. This is especially helpful right before bedtime, as a calmer dog can sleep more peacefully than an anxious and restless one.
To begin training, direct your dog to the sleeping corner and reward them when treats when they do so. When all four paws are on the sleeping mat or inside the blanket, reward them again. Reward them the next time, when they lie down on the man for a significant number of seconds. When your dog is settling in, slowly increase your distance from them, and reward them for staying in their place, at regular intervals. Continue this process to ensure that your dog sees his sleeping location as a cue to relax. An ideal time for this type of training would be in the evenings when your dog is already tired. Practice and patience will go a long way in developing good sleeping habits in your dog. Doggie Dabbas’ “High Value Training Treats” will be ideal for helping your pet in their training journey.
Step 5: Train Your Dog To Sleep In A Crate
If you are one to move excessively while sleeping, it will disrupt your dog's sleep which will eventually disturb yours as well. Thus, create a designated space, like a crate or dog bed, for your dog to sleep in. Training your dog to sleep in a crate can prevent them from wandering about. Equip their bed with blankets as well. A designated sleeping spot will help your dog recognize when and where they need to snooze.
There are a variety of dog beds available today, to give your pet a comfortable space to head to, every night. Memory foam dog beds are popular choices for ageing dogs, who can be experiencing pains and aches, for which such beds are popular sources of comfort. Memory foam makes sleeping less stressful and removes pressure points. Orthopaedic dog beds can be used when your pet suffers from muscle aches or hip dysplasia. Such beds can help relieve pain and allow your dog to sleep peacefully through the night. Doughnut shaped or rounded dog beds are commonly found beds, and are perfect for dogs who are generally used to sleeping in a donut or curled up position.
Step 6: Establish an Evening Routine
After taking your dog out for a walk and finishing dinner, ensure that the period right before bedtime is relaxed and uneventful. For instance, don't give out excessive treats or play ball. Furthermore, the mood of your dog often depends on you. The calmer you are, the more restful they will be, and it will become easier to lull them into sleep. Similarly, if you are anxious or nervous, your dog can pick up on such signals, become restless, and ultimately find it difficult to sleep peacefully.
Step 7: Check For Medical Conditions
Another crucial aspect of helping your dog sleep through the night is to check for any medical conditions. You may have followed all the steps above, yet nothing seems to be working. In such a case, it is plausible that your pupper has a medical issue that must be looked out for.
Your dog might be in pain due to an injury, or certain pests could be biting them, causing irritation. In such cases, finding out the root cause of the problem is imperative, and providing the proper treatment can help alleviate their sleeplessness.
Following the steps above can help you and your dog enjoy uninterrupted sleep, which will end up invigorating both of you! Watch out for sleeping positions and sleeplessness as they are indicative of what your pupper is going through - physically, mentally and emotionally. Developing a routine and sticking to it is key, to ensure that you and your dog are well-rested and revitalized every day. Regular exercise, proper meals and training using an action-reward system will help your dog snooze peacefully!