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Anyone who has cared for a human baby will know that the sleeping habits of the very young can be very unpredictable, and do not follow the usual diurnal cycles that the rest of us keep! The same is true for puppies until they get into a proper routine and become mature enough to associate energy expenditure with the need for rest, and when the rest of their household is asleep and awake.
Everyone is familiar with the typical puppy behaviour of being incredibly wriggly and active and constantly seeking out things to do and play with, then conking out suddenly and falling into a deep sleep wherever they happen to land!
Read on to learn more about the sleeping habits of puppies, and how they change as the dog ages.
Just like everything else, your puppy’s sleeping habits will vary from breed to breed, and with the individual differences between dogs. While all puppies are livelier when awake than their adult counterparts, some puppies are naturally more active than others, and more sedentary dog breeds will tend to sleep more, even when very young, than puppies of more active breeds. The puppies that whiz around burning off the most energy are the puppies that are the most likely to fall asleep suddenly, and sleep very deeply when they do!
Puppies will fall asleep in the oddest of places and often with very little warning! You might see your puppy asleep with their head in their food bowl, sprawled out on the floor, or in any manner of other places! Puppies sleep incredibly deeply, and many first time dog owners are concerned by this, thinking that the puppy is unwell or in some cases, not even breathing! However, owners soon come to recognise the puppy conking out when and where it suits them, and it is important to let the puppy have the rest that they need and not wake them up needlessly because you want to play with them!
It is important to start to get your puppy into a sleep routine and teach them when and where sleeping is encouraged, and to persevere with this even if the puppy is not fast to catch on!
Planning your puppy’s walks and activities around their sleeping schedule is a good way to do this, as a puppy that is naturally worn out will be more willing to sleep than one that is wide awake and ready to play! Learn about calming your puppy down after activity if they are not already tired, so that even if they are not ready to sleep, they are happy to sit or lie down quietly and relax.
While it is understandable and totally fine that younger puppies will fall asleep wherever it suits them and there is not much that you can do about this, you should also get your puppy used to the concept of good and bad places to sleep. Allocate them a bed or a sleeping spot and encourage them to use it, and this will fulfil multiple purposes. Not only does it teach your puppy about things that are theirs and things that are not, but they will in time come to associate their bed with sleeping, seeking it out when they are tired, and also, learning that when they are put in their bed, it is the stage of the day to try to sleep.
Because puppies tend to be so lively when awake, it can be hard to definitively identify how many hours per day any puppy is asleep, unless you keep notes. Different breeds of puppies need different amounts of sleep, and of course how much they sleep will change as they get older. Puppies do, however, need more sleep than adult dogs, and it is not at all uncommon or cause for concern if your puppy sleeps for 15-20 hours per day at three months old. This is often a lot more time spent in the land of nod than many dog owners expect!
As puppies get older, they will gradually need less sleep, and by the time they are a year old they will probably have become well established into the sleeping pattern that they will retain while adults.
Prior to a year old, your puppy’s sleep not only supports the energy expended by their activity levels, but also their growing minds and bodies, and as they reach adulthood, this will slow down. However, mature and elderly dogs may once again begin to display longer sleep cycles, and generally become quieter and keen to spend more time resting, as their bodies and minds begin their natural decline into old age.
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