Getting enough sleep is crucial for health and happiness—for you and your dog! If your dog has a sleep disorder, or just doesn't manage to get enough sleep during the night, it can mean you lose sleep in the process. Your buddy will have more energy and be friendlier if they can get proper rest, so it's up to you to help them sleep soundly.
How do you know if your dog is getting enough sleep?
Dogs sleep an average of 14 hours per day, but have the ability to adjust their schedules according to their routine. They should sleep through the night with you, and then take naps throughout the day to supplement. Smaller dogs tend to sleep longer, but some giant breeds like Newfoundlands can sleep close to 17 hours per day.
Since they sleep so many hours, multiple naps are normal, but dogs should also be able to be energetic, active, and awake during play time or walks. If your dog seems lethargic during these periods, or has trouble sleeping through the night, they may not be getting enough sleep. Other signs of sleep problems include:
- Sleepy during the day, and active during the night
- Needing to go outside in the middle of the night
- Waking you up long before your alarm
Puppies and older dogs can't help having a mixed up sleep schedule or bathroom needs, but an adult dog should be able to adapt to your sleep schedule.
How can you help your dog sleep better?
If your dog isn't getting enough sleep, they may have a sleep disorder or medical condition which makes it hard for them to sleep. First you should check with your veterinarian to see if they are sick or hurt. Once you are treating any health concerns, you can try a few other techniques to help your dog sleep better.
If your dog is sleepy during the day...
The first step to treating insufficient night-time sleep is to pin-point the potential cause. Check to make sure your dog is healthy and comfortable when it's time to sleep. Insomnia may be due to stress from changes in the home or family. Pay attention when sleep changes occur and try to determine what might be causing it.
You can also help your dog wind down and have a calm bedtime. Consider turning down the lights or putting your dog to bed. Incentivize bedtime by tucking in Fido with a treat. A routine will tell help their bodies adjust and become sleepy around the same time each night. If your dog is older, try to accommodate for joint pain with a warm or soft bed.
If your dog sleeps on your bed...
Everyone feels movements in the bed, and your movements may be waking up your dog and making sleep difficult. Train your dog to sleep on their own bed and they might be awoken less often. Similarly, pet brothers and sisters might encourage late night playtime. Consider putting your pets in different rooms or crates so they don't have the urge to play after lights-out. For older dogs, consider whether the floor-to-bed movement might exacerbate joint pain just before bedtime.
If your dog can't fall asleep or wakes up early...
Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise and stimulation during the day. Dogs will fill boredom with naps, but there is a limit to how much they want to sleep. Going on walks, running in dog parks, or playing inside during bad weather can ensure your dog gets enough excitement out of the day to sleep at night.
If your dog has narcolepsy...
There is no cure for narcolepsy, although ongoing research with dogs is helping us better understand the disorder in humans. Your vet may prescribe medications, such as methylphenidate and protriptyline, but the best treatment may be monitoring your pet for attacks, and gently petting them when you see signs of sleep attacks. Talking to or petting your dog may end the attack, “freeing” your friend from paralysis or sleep.
If your puppy has trouble sleeping through the night...
Keep in mind that you are teaching habits for their adult life, but also realize that they may need to urinate once during the night. If you plan feeding so that they eat about 3 hours before bed, they should be able to work off most of the energy. If you take away water 2 hours before bed, they should only need one bathroom break during the night.
Once their nutritional needs are met, focus on training. A crate may help trigger that it's time to calm down and not time to play. You may still need to take your puppy out during the night, but make it clear that it is not play-time.
If you have an older dog...
Senior dogs often experience a reversal in sleep patterns, making them more active during the night. Try to guide them back to the proper schedule through routine and comforts. If your senior dog has joint problems, it may be beneficial to invest in an extra soft or even heated bed to help them settle down and fall asleep comfortably despite joint pain.
Like puppies, they may need to go out during the night, but a comfy bed may lure them back to sleep.
More on Dog Health
The Proper Nutrition for Feeding a Puppy
Nutrition for Your Senior Dog
The Healthy Dog Guide to Winter Activity
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.