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Sleeping Habits of Dogs - How Dogs Sleep

My Dogs All Have Their Favorite Sleeping Spot

Al (the Pug)  is in a very deep sleep.

Al (the Pug) is in a very deep sleep.

Dolly (English Cream Golden Retriever) thinks she is a small dog.

Dolly (English Cream Golden Retriever) thinks she is a small dog.

Mandy (Standard Poodle)  is still a puppy.

Mandy (Standard Poodle) is still a puppy.

Floyd (a  Japanese Chin) is small enough to fit anywhere.

Floyd (a Japanese Chin) is small enough to fit anywhere.

Do Dogs Really Sleep More Than People Do?

There are many factors that affect how much a dog sleeps. Canines seem to sleep much more and much lighter than people do. Dogs have particular sleeping habits that are much different from human beings. Yet, it seems they dream like people do, and need their sleep for many of the same reasons we do.

  • most puppies sleep about 18 to about 20 hours a day. As a dog gets older they will naturally sleep less hours a day.

  • adult dogs sleep approximately 14 hours a day.

  • some sleeping habits are breed dependent - large breeds like Mastiffs, St. Bernards, Newfies, as adult dogs, can sleep as much as 16 to 18 hours a a day.

It is important to understand that dogs do not have regular sleeping routines the way people do. We usually sleep about 7 to 8 hours each night, but dogs often have intervals of short naps throughout the day.

There are many factors that contribute to the sleeping patterns of your dog. Age, personality, breed, stimulation in the household, health of your dog, and activity level. The one thing fo sure is, dogs sleep more than people do. For example, a pampered pooch sleeps far more time than a working dog like a police rescue dog.

Dogs instinctively modify their sleeping habits so that they are alert when they hear something, or there are things going on, and can also rest when things around them are quiet.

A typical dog will spend 1/2 of their day sleeping. About ⅓ of their day napping and about ⅕ of their day being active. So an average dog will sleep about 12 - 14 hours daily. But it is not usually continuous. Puppies often sleep 18 hours daily. These are rough estimates and don’t apply to every single dog. Your dog may snooze more or less than this amount, and it is probably nothing to be concerned about. With each pet, it can easily vary. mu

How Much Do Dogs and Puppies Sleep?

Dogs sleeping patterns are different from people

Dogs sleeping patterns are different from people

A Dog's Sleeping Habits Change for Many Reasons

Sometimes you may notice changes in your dog’s sleep pattern. A dog may sleep differently simply because there was a change in their diet. Dog food that is of lower quality my not be providing your pet with the proper nutrition, and they may get more sluggish. Some dog food has ingredients that are more difficult to digest. This causes them to spend some of their energy digesting the food and they feel more tired, instead of energetically playing.

Older dogs will sleep more. They may spend some of the night moving around and being awake, so they are sleeping more during the day. However, if you notice big changes in their sleep patterns, especially if they seem to be sleeping more excessively than they used to, they could be dealing with some health issues. It is a good idea to go to your vet to have your dog’s thyroid and heart checked, among other things.

Puppies will sleep a lot, because just like human babies, sleep helps them develop and grow. Sleeping 18 hours a day is not unusual for an ever growing puppy. However, use your judgment. If you think your puppy is sleeping too much, have them examined by a veterinarian. You want to eliminate any problems with your puppy’s health and to check for simple things like infections.

Sleep is as important for dogs as it is for people. If a dog is having trouble sleeping through the night, it very well might disturb the family sleep time too. If your dog is having difficulty sleeping through the night, especially if they are an older dog, there may be medical causes or issues related to anxiety.

Some elderly dogs can get a form of dementia similar to people. Their early stage cognitive dysfunction can result in the dog being confused in new or unfamiliar situations. The older dog could have periods of wakefulness because they are feeling pain. When a dog feels uncomfortable they might vocalize, pant, be restless, pace, or show other signs of discomfort, that may not be as noticeable during the day. Some dogs may have the urge to urinate more during the night which might interfere with their normal sleep patterns.

If your dog’s sleeping hours have changed, it might be a good idea to take them to the veterinarian to get a full physical checkup. Anything from kidney disease, urinary tract infections, hormone imbalances, intestinal upsets, and neurological impairments can be just some of the reasons your dog’s regular sleep has been disrupted.

Sleeping Dogs

When Your Dog Has Trouble Sleeping

Anxiety is another consideration as to why your dog has different sleep habits. Thunderstorms, certainly disturb a dog due to their superior hearing. Dogs hear everything. So if people are outside your home during the night, your dog will automatically get up to protect their territory and their owners. This hyper vigilance can wake them and you many times during the night.

Sometimes, something simple like an orthopedic bed can help a dog feel more comfortable at night and get a restful slumber by easing pressure on their joints and bones.

If your dog is having trouble sleeping at night, it is important not to punish or yell at your dog. The best thing to do is calmly ease your dog back to sleep.

Sometimes pet vitamins or changing their diet may help them sleep better and slow up or minimize the dementia or reduce their anxiety. Your veterinarian may prescribe medications that can help your pet get a better night’s sleep, but it is important to understand the side effects that go along with any prescription or supplement your dog may take.

Puppies need a lot of sleep. A puppy will sleep better if they are in the same room as you. They find comfort in being near their owners. From the very first night you bring them home, it is important to have a set place for them to sleep.

Sweet Dreams and Our Dogs

Do Dogs Dream?

Different breeds are known to sleep more or less hours in the day. Dogs like Newfoundlands, Mastiffs and St. Bernards are big dogs who can sleep as much as 18 hours a day.

Dogs sleep more hours in part because they sleep lighter than we do, wake up more often, and are more bored than we are. Their sleep patterns respond to the activity level in their surroundings.

The sleep patterns of dogs are very similar to humans. When they first fall asleep, they enter a quiet phase, where their breathing slows, and their blood pressure and body temperature get lower. Their heart rate drops. Then your dog enters the active stage, where sleep is deeper. REM - rapid eye movement - takes place as the dog vocalizes by barking, whining, During REM stage, it is believed dogs dream, just as people do.

If you have ever seen a dog sleeping, you most probably have seen them, on occasion, with their legs twitching, or perhaps whimpering. It would appear that dogs do dream. Structurally, a canine’s brain has similarities to a human being’s brain. When electrical activity has been done on dogs brains, their brainwave patterns also resemble humans. Dogs have sleep stages, just as people do. Recent studies done on animals that are of lower intelligence than dogs have shown that simpler animals dream also. A study done at MIT by Matthew Wilson and Kenway Louie, showed that rats dream. The scientists used electrical recordings on rats while they ran a maze when they were awake. When the rats were asleep, their patterns of brainwaves indicated the rats were dreaming about the maze they had run when they entered the dream stage of their sleep. The patterns were so specifically clear in the rats that the scientists could easily tell what part of the maze, the rats were thinking about, and even if the rats were dreaming about standing still or they were moving in their dreams in the maze. The researchers were cautious about outright stating that rats dream, but they said "The animal is certainly recalling memories of those events as they occurred during the awake state, and it is doing so during dream sleep and that's just what people do when they dream."

Based on this experiment, it is fairly easy to believe that dogs also dream. For most of us, we don’t need a degree in science to know that we have witnessed our dogs dreaming. As you watch your pet fall asleep. It takes about 20 minutes for a dog of an average size to usually start dreaming. Their breathing becomes irregular and shallower than it was when they first fell asleep. You might see their muscles twitch, their paws in motion, movement of their eyes, and even some make vocalizations.

Dogs and Their Dreams

Why Dogs Circle and Dig Before They Lay Down

Another sleeping habit of dogs, is to circle around and move their paws in a digging like ritual before they lay down. It doesn't matter if their sleeping surface is hard or soft, indoors or outdoors, or if the dog is miniature or giant size. Dogs do this for many reasons.

Some of it is a vestige from their undomesticated days, when they would dig to make a safe and comfortable place to rest. Sometimes, they may do this now because they are seeking to be cooler if they are hot, and warmer if they are cold. Dogs dig before they lay down, mainly out of instinct. The pads in their paws have glands that send out a scent that gets released when they scratch at a surface.

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When they dig in the area they are going to lay down, they are marking their spot as theirs with their own scent. `

The sleeping habits of dogs, are both similar and different than our sleeping patterns. Science will continue to study our canine friends to learn more about the needs and benefits of sleep. By learning about dogs, mankind will learn more about ourselves.

Do You Think Dogs Dream?


Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 28, 2017:

We have often seen our dogs in that dream state. Cats do the same as probably all animals do if studied and observed. Interesting subject!

toknowinfo (author) on April 28, 2017:

Our pets have their own unique personalities which endears them to us. Thanks so much for sharing.

Maria Cecilia from Philippines on April 26, 2017:

My MAC a shihtzu-chi mixed breed has this habit that I really observed. When I am sitting comfortably on a couch, this dog will jump to my lap, hug me with his paws at my neck then slowly he will fall flatly on his back then fell asleep... he is like a kid that wanted to sleep at their mother's lap and arm... this dog is just so different among my dogs.

toknowinfo (author) on June 23, 2016:

Make sure your puppy is getting enough water. Dark pee is usually a sign of dehydration. Bring your puppy to another vet to get a full check up. Immunizations are one thing, but it is important you have a vet you can rely on.

Kemi o on June 17, 2016:

Please I got a new puppy Lhasa apso of a month old.She seemed lively the first few hours and suddenly became very dull.She sleeps like forever &hardly eats,her pee is also so deep yellow that it stains the floor if not quickly cleaned,her vet came %immunized her &left me multivite syrup to give her but is she okay?Pls answer quickly,really worried,/do I just return her?

Elsie Hagley from New Zealand on October 08, 2015:

I'm a dog lover, not sure they dream, I did watch the video, whatever that dog was doing he sure was exercising, just as well he never took of sleep walking.

Interesting read thanks for sharing.

toknowinfo (author) on September 25, 2014:

Well my personal philosophy is that if we would probably sleep as much as dogs do if we didn't have as many things to do.

Jennifer Beckers from Palm Beach County on September 21, 2014:

I always wondered about dogs' sleeping patterns. I feel like my two dogs spend a great deal during the day passed out and it amazed me how they would just go to sleep with me at night as well!

toknowinfo (author) on July 29, 2014:

I think you are right. Dogs do dream. I am so sorry about your first dog. I hope you have many long years with the dog you have now. Hopefully over time, her whimpers will fade and she will have sweet dreams because she is in a good and loving home with you.

Jason on July 26, 2014:

I think Dogs def dream. Our dog we raised from a puppy always suckled because she was bottle fed from the beginning of her short life (our neighbor accidentally let her and she was hit by a car, 4 years old.) While our next dog we got from a shelter was an abused dog and she always whimpers in her sleep, shes about 4 years old now too.

toknowinfo (author) on October 24, 2013:

Hi CG1966,

I am not a vet, but their awake behavior is more indicative of how they are feeling, than their sleeping habits. There are several things to consider when there is a change in your pet. Did anything change your home, your routine, his food, the weather, etc. Talking to a vet is your best bet to be sure. Also consider you only have your dog a few months and he may still be adjusting. He also might be older than 3 years old.

I am also firmly against food that is made in China, so it might be wise to check the label on the food. Also check the portion you are feeding your Yorkie. Too much food could be making him sleepy. You could also try changing the food and see if you get a different result. Let me know what works.

cg1966 on October 23, 2013:

Very informative. Thanks. A couple of months ago I rescued a 3 year old yorkie terrier. I am kind of worried because lately after dinner he goes into a deep sleep. He goes inside my closet and does not want to be bothered. It seems like he does not need much activity. After half an hour walk he is ready to take s nap. Is this normal?

toknowinfo (author) on October 10, 2012:

Hi Quildon, I bet your Lhasa Apso is very active, and is probably sleeping when you are not looking. Enjoy your pup and thanks for adding your comments.

Virginia Kearney from United States on October 10, 2012:

Just this morning my husband and I were talking about our dog's sleeping habits. She is a springer spaniel and very, very attached to us, so she is always sleeping right underneath our feet. If I move, she wakes up and moves with me. Frankly, it is pretty tough being a dog!

Maria Cecilia from Philippines on October 09, 2012:

toknowinfo because in reality he is like that, always acting weird whenever I am about to leave for work...just this morning he acted like he was not well so Istayed for 30 minutes,and forgot about coming to work on time. he seemed to calm down when I stayed a little longer

toknowinfo (author) on October 09, 2012:

Hi Maria, I bet you are right about Peso's dream. He is happiest when he is with you, and misses you when you are not with him.

Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on October 09, 2012:

Hi my friend, another gem of a hub and very informative on dogs sleeping habits and dreaming . All great information for all dog owners to read. Well done !

Vote up and more !!! SHARING !

toknowinfo (author) on October 09, 2012:

Hi Jaye, I am sorry to hear that your dog has these health issues. Medication can have the side effect of sleepiness, but it is interesting that you are seeing her dream more too. Dogs like to sleep near their family members, so I am sure she is having very pleasant dreams!

Helen Murphy Howell from Fife, Scotland on October 09, 2012:

What a fabulous hub!

I knew my dogs slept a lot but this is so interesting about how many hours they actually spent in sleep - a lot more than I realised.

For sure dogs do dream! My 6.5 month old pup Kassy just about takes off from the chair when she starts dreaming! Vocals, paws going, mouth going - it's a wonder she's not exhausted when she wakes up. The vidoe of Cheez was great, his back legs going like that looked like he was running?

I also liked the fact that you drew attention to older dogs and what might be affecting their sleep. My first dog when getting quite old, started to get up during the night and he was losing a lot of sleep. Basically it was his old bones and a bit of arthritis that was making him uncomfortable. So we got him a 'vetbed' which is basically just a thick sheepskin and a short course of pain relief from the vet - he slept so well after that and was much brighter during the day. So it is important that owners are aware that this might happen with an older dog.

Great hub with super information. Voted up + shared!

Angela Joseph from Florida on October 09, 2012:

What lovely pics! I've always been tickled watching our dogs make sounds and movements during their sleep. Yes, I believe they do dream, but I had no idea they slept that much though. Our Lhasa Apso didn't appear to sleep much at all. She was active day and night.

Maria Cecilia from Philippines on October 09, 2012:

I often observed Peso dreamed, sometimes he was crying or whining, I think I can guess what was on his dream, he was dreaming of me leaving him LOL

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on October 09, 2012:

My dog (nearly 8 years old) was recently diagnosed with a health disorder that is incurable (KCS, or lack of tear production). This requires a lot of medication at intervals throughout the day until late at night. She is playing less and sleeping more lately. Since she sleeps in my bed at night, and I tend to read for a while before going to sleep, I've noticed her often in what appears to be a dream state--with the twitching legs, light noises, etc. I hope she's having pleasant dreams!

Enjoyed this hub. Voted Up++


toknowinfo (author) on October 09, 2012:

Hi Bill, I am always complimented when I have taught you some things. Thanks as always for stopping by.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 09, 2012:

I had no idea dogs slept that many hours, and I've had dogs most of my life. Very interesting hub my friend; you taught me a great deal this morning. Thank you and have a great day!

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