Did you know that the number of hours your dog sleeps is linked to his breed? On average, most dogs sleep between 12 and 14 hours per day, but breed activity levels also play a role in sleep requirements. Active breeds may sleep less, with smaller breeds and larger breeds enjoying extra sleep hours.
In humans, sleep hygiene is important for rejuvenating the body and is essential for growth, healing and good mental health. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, your memory and productivity can be greatly affected the following day. For dogs, sleep is also important for physical health, growth and emotional wellbeing.
In addition to breed, other factors will influence how many hours your dog sleeps per day.
Just like human babies, tiny puppies sleep around 20 to 22 hours per day. As he grows, his sleep needs change and he’ll settle into a pattern of around 12 to 14 hours, depending on other factors. Senior pets may sleep over 18 hours in a 24-hour cycle.
In times of illness or pain your dog will sleep longer hours. If he seems to be sleeping more, it is worth taking him for a vet check-up. This may be a natural change in his sleep habits or it may be a sign of illness. Dogs who have lost a human caregiver or animal companion may also sleep more as they experience a depressed mood.
Your dog’s environment and daily programme can also influence his sleep patterns. For example, a small breed dog who lives with a senior in a retirement home will naturally sleep more than a working dog.
If your adolescent or adult dog seems restless at night, he may be bored during the day. Try a daily walk or get him involved in a dog sport so that he can use up his energy. A very lethargic dog could also benefit from additional exercise in his daily routine.
Choosing the right bed
While some pet owners do allow their pets to sleep in their own beds, you should provide your dog with a bed of his own and allow him to decide when he wants to use it. Also consider where your dog stays during the day while you are at work and provide him with a comfortable place to rest. Outside beds must be placed in a shaded area, ideally on an enclosed patio or inside a lapa where he can find shelter from sun and rain.
Size, style and material
Consider your dog’s size when choosing a bed. He should be able to stretch out comfortably on the bed. Some smaller breeds may enjoy snuggling up inside a covered bed, but not all dogs like them.
Consider your breed’s disposition. Some breeds, especially those from cooler climates or longhaired breeds, may not like a bed that is too snug – and pet owners end up distressed to find their dogs stretched out on cold tiles. In this instance, a stretcher type bed – raised off the floor and providing airflow from below, may be a good compromise. Crates are also suitable beds for dogs of any size and breed. Crate-training should be considered early on and started during puppyhood. Provide bedding for comfort inside the crate.
Lifestyle also impacts on your choice of bed. For example, if your dog enjoys playing out in the garden (think mud and other yucky stuff), a basic plastic bed with extra pillows and blankets that can be easily washed may be a better choice for him.
Dogs with joint problems, arthritis or even more serious conditions like hip dysplasia will benefit from an orthopaedic bed. Orthopaedic beds are manufactured from high-density memory foam which ensures a soft and comfortable night’s rest, taking pressure off painful joints. These beds may mean a significant investment on your part, but they do assist in helping your pet enjoy a better night’s sleep. For large breeds, consider this investment early on in your dog’s life as the support foam is able to better take the dog’s weight and can help to mitigate later joint issues. When choosing a product, check for loose covers that are washable