The Importance of Sleep

by Tamsin Durston // August 2017

The Importance of Sleep

zzZ

Dogs sleep a lot – typically spending up to half the day snoozing! But this doesn’t mean they’re lazy… they can wake up and be ready to run and play right away – however it does mean that we need to provide them the opportunity to sleep and to rest as it is just so normal for them!

 

Puppies

s can sleep for up to 18-20 hours combined during any one day, as they need to restore their energy levels having spent their ‘awake time’ exploring, investigating, learning and playing. Of course our friends and families want to come and meet our new puppies, but if we don’t allow our puppies sufficient time to rest during the day they are likely to become agitated and irritable as they’re over-tired and need to sleep but are too stimulated to do so. We often see puppies mouthing and seeking attention if they haven’t learned to relax and to cope with being bored (see our previous blog on ‘teaching the settle’ for help with this).

Elderly Dogs

Elderly dogs also need more time for their older bodies and older brains to get that vital restorative rest so it is important to remember this and to be careful not to involve them in activities that do not allow them the opportunity to rest.

Adult Dogs

Even the fittest adult dog in their prime will need to rest more than usual when   they’ve had a particularly active day – such as an extra-long walk or a very social day visiting friends and new environments that can be very tiring mentally as well as physically. 

Let sleeping dogs lie – the perfect bed!

All dogs need their own bed – it’s unfair to ask them to share as it’s important to them to have their own ‘safe space’ in which they know they are secure and can completely relax. There are many different types of ‘dog-bed’ from plastic or wicker baskets to raised platforms, indoor kennels (we think of these as four-poster-beds for dogs J) and deep soft beds with furry walls. You can also purchase specialized beds for dogs with older, stiffer limbs for added comfort so they can sleep undisturbed. You might spend a fortune on a new bed and yet your dog still chooses to sleep on the rug! – so spend some time deciding on where your dog naturally chooses to place himself, and in what bodily position, to rest before buying a special bed for him. 

They look soooooo cute but resist the urge to touch them or talk to them while they’re asleep!!!

Making their own bed

It’s perfectly natural for dogs to turn around and around in order to ‘make themselves the perfect bed’, even if lying on the solid ground, so despite your best efforts to provide lovely blankets they may choose to mess these up before settling. Resist the urge to stop your dog behaving in this way in order to straighten out the blankets and make them look neat again as this isn’t what your dog needs!

Where to place your dog’s bed?

It helps to place your dog’s bed somewhere quiet and away from main thoroughfares in the house. This helps us resist the temptation to interact with them when they’re asleep but also means they’re less likely to be disturbed by noises or people simply walking past. Away from windows and in room corners might be better – and remember that some dogs much prefer to be completely surrounded in order to feel safe and secure, so a covered bed is a good choice for them, or placing their own bed under a table then hanging a blanket down to cover the sides. A real ‘den’ or ‘dog-cave’ is useful, and also serves as a reminder to us to simply leave them alone too!

For new puppies and rescue dogs, when first brought into your home, you may wish to place their bed nest to your bed to begin with until they are settled in and adapting to their new environment, as this can be such a tough time for them. Even if you really wish for them to sleep elsewhere in the house once they are more relaxed, confident and you have got to know each other you can then provide him with a den in a different location and teach him that this is just an awesome place to settle and to sleep (again, our previous blog on ‘teaching the settle’ will help with this).

When to worry

Any changes in behaviour from what is ‘normal for your dog’ might signify a medical problem. If your dog suddenly shows a change in his sleeping patterns please consult your vet – as there could be a variety of reasons for this and could mean you nip something unhealthy in the bud before it develops any further.

Enjoy the calmness

Watching our beloved dogs snoozing brings such joy, especially when they actively dream and give little wuffs and twitches. Those of you with puppies will appreciate every second they are asleep and therefore not up to what we could call ‘mischief’ but what to them is just normal behaviour!! So enjoy those moments of bliss!

Please share your pics and clips of your dogs enjoying a good old snooze in their favourite beds, which we know might even be your own bed!

You can tweet us @dogschoollondon or Instagram us #dogschoollondon