Not all puppies love sleep, young puppies may even fight sleep! But sleep is imperative into our puppy’s development and growth.
Sleep, whether they’re curled up on the sofa, stretched out in their crate, or simply snoozing while leaning against your foot, dreaming away after a session of energetic play.
Understanding a puppy’s sleep needs is essential for new pet parents – and in my opinion the single biggest variant in whether a puppy’s behavior. Not only does it help you establish a constructive routine, but it also aids in the maximization of their health, growth, and overall well-being and help create the dog you want.
In this article, we will delve into the world of puppy sleep. We’ll unpack everything you need to know about a puppy’s sleep cycle, how much sleep puppies need at different stages of their growth, the factors influencing their sleep, and signals indicating sleep deprivation. By the end, you’ll be well-equipped with knowledge to ensure your furry friend is getting the rest they need to grow into a healthy adult dog.
The Goal Is Self Regulation
A lot of the time we forget that a puppy is a puppy, if that makes sense. That they’re equivalent to human babies. The amount of time I hear “Oh, but he’ll sleep when he’s tired”, let me tell you from an ocean of experience – that is categorically not true.
You, your family, and pretty much everything in the world is fun or interesting to your puppy – so why on earth would they stop experiencing it? Dogs do what’s most rewarding! And as a puppy they have no idea that their activity level may be a problem. Luckily, they have us humans to intervene and help guide sleep for them ,on how much puppies really need – and I know you new puppy parents are dying for a good night’s sleep – but don’t worry, frequent naps and daytime naps will not inhibit your puppy’s sleep habits, instead, they’ll help!
How Much Sleep Do Puppies Need?
So c’mon then. how much sleep is a good idea? A puppy’s sleep requirements change as they grow and go through the different stages of development. Here, we will discuss the varying sleep durations that puppies need throughout their early life.
Hours of Sleep Required for Newborn Puppies
Newborn puppies, up to 2 months old, require a substantial amount of sleep: roughly 18-20 hours per day. This immense amount of sleep is necessary for their rapid growth, which is happening both physically and mentally. These early weeks mainly involve feeding, sleeping, and growing, with little time for anything else.
Sleep Duration for Older Puppies (3-6 months)
As puppies grow and become more active, their overall sleeping time decreases. Puppies aged 3-6 months still need plenty of rest to ensure optimal health and growth. In this age range, they typically require around 16-18 hours of sleep per day. It is common for puppies at this age to have bursts of energy followed by naps throughout the day.
Sleep Requirements for Nearly Mature Puppies
For puppies nearing the 1-year mark, their sleep patterns tend to fall more in line with adult dogs. These nearly mature puppies need approximately 14-16 hours of sleep daily – and whilst this sounds like a lot of sleep for older dogs, it’s really not. At this stage, puppies are more likely to have a predictable sleep routine, with longer periods of rest during the night and shorter naps during the day facilitating the crepuscular nature of dog sleep.
Remember, sleep requirements can vary between breeds and individual puppies. Always watch for signs of sleep deprivation or excessive sleep and consult your veterinarian if any concerns arise, and please note, that this is also totally dependent on your individual dog. For example, my coonhounds are both happiest around 17-18hrs of sleep, and they have a lot of energy, they run hard, but very rarely do we have sleepless nights.
What Determines a Puppy’s Sleep
Several factors are at play when it comes to determining a puppy’s sleep. Among the most influential are the puppy’s age, breed, and overall health condition.
1 – Age of the Puppy
The age of a puppy greatly influences how many hours they will snooze in a day. Newborn puppies sleep almost the entire day, around 18-20 hours, as they are in the phase of rapid growth. Their day consists mostly of eating, sleeping, and growing. As puppies grow older, they become more active and their sleeping hours gradually decrease. By the time they reach mature puppyhood, around 1 year, their sleeping period tends to lie between 12-14 hours a day, aligning more with adult dogs’ sleep routines.
2 – Breed of the Puppy
The breed of a puppy can also play a part in the amount of sleep they need. Large breed dogs, such as Saint Bernards or Mastiffs, tend to sleep more than smaller breeds. Large breeds grow rapidly, and all that growth requires rest. However, they reach maturity at a slower pace compared to smaller breeds. Hence, these puppies need substantial sleep to develop properly. Smaller breeds, though they may be more energetic in waking hours, tend to sleep less.
3 – Health of the Puppy
The health condition of a puppy is another determinant of its sleep duration and quality. Healthy puppies usually have distinctive sleep patterns and are full of energy during their awake hours. Conversely, a puppy struggling with health issues may sleep more or exhibit restlessness during sleep. Instances of sleep interruption or excessive sleep can be early indicators of health issues such as parasites, infections, or general malaise. Always consult your veterinarian if abnormal sleep patterns are noticed.
Sleep Cycle of Puppies
Puppies, similar to humans and adult dogs, have a sleep cycle consisting of two key stages: Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM). Both these stages contribute significantly to a puppy’s development and overall health.
REM and NREM cycle in Puppies
In the NREM stage, puppies are in a deep, restful sleep. This is the stage where the body regenerates and repairs tissues, builds bone and muscle, and strengthens the immune system. The REM stage, often discernible by twitching paws and light whimpering, is when puppies dream. As puppies spend a tremendous part of their day sleeping, they also spend a significant amount of time in the REM stage.
Comparisons between Puppy Sleep Cycle and Adult Dogs
Puppies spend a larger proportion of their sleep in the REM stage compared to adult dogs. This increased REM sleep in puppies is crucial for their brain development. As they mature and enter into adult dog life, REM sleep decreases. Adult dogs, on average, spend about 10-20% of their sleep in REM whereas puppies may spend up to 50% due to their developing brains.
Implications of Sleep Cycle on Overall Puppy Health and Growth
Puppies gain significant benefits from a healthy sleep cycle. Their growth, development, learning, and even temperament can be linked to the quality and quantity of sleep they get. Proper sleep helps puppies process and remember what they have learned. So, that training session you held in the afternoon? It’s being consolidated during their naptime. A disruption in sleep cycle may cause health issues or growth retardation, emphasizing the need for adequate puppy sleep.
Factors That Can Influence a Puppy’s Sleep
A variety of factors can influence your puppy’s sleep. Some of these include diet and nutrition, physical activity, environment, and emotional wellness.
– Diet and Nutrition
The nutrition a puppy receives directly impacts how they sleep. Well-nourished puppies have the energy they need to play and explore, leading to refreshing sleep. On the other hand, a puppy with poor nutrition may lack energy during the day and might not sleep well due to nutritional deficiencies. Feeding times also play a significant role, as feeding puppies right before bedtime could lead to overnight accidents, which can disrupt sleep.
– Physical Activity
Activity levels greatly influence a puppy’s sleep. Puppies are known for their bursts of energy, and plenty of physical and mental stimulation throughout the day allows them to sleep soundly at night. Without enough exercise, your puppy might become restless and have difficulty getting quality sleep.
The environment in which a puppy sleeps can significantly affect the quality of their sleep. It’s essential to provide a peaceful, comfortable, and quiet place for your puppy to sleep. Unwanted disturbances, irregular temperatures, or uncomfortable sleeping arrangements can lead to poor sleep quality and restlessness.
– Stress and New Changes
Puppies, just like humans, are susceptible to stress, which may alter their sleep patterns. Changes like moving to a new home, the arrival of a new person or pet, or a daunting vet visit can leave a puppy feeling stressed, leading to disturbed sleep. Offering your puppy reassurances during such changes and maintaining a familiar routine can help aid in better sleep.
How to Ensure Your Puppy Gets Enough Sleep
Making sure your puppy gets adequate sleep is essential for their health, growth, and overall well-being. Here are some tips on how to ensure your puppy gets enough sleep:
1 – Setting up a Comfortable Sleeping Environment
It’s important to create a comfortable and peaceful sleeping environment for your puppy. Choose a quiet area of your home, away from loud noise or high-traffic zones to create that wonderful, peaceful sleeping area. This space should be exclusive to your puppy and offer them a sense of safety and security, you can also use white noise to help settle young dogs through household movements.
2 – Appropriate Types of Bedding
Selecting the right bedding for your puppy plays a crucial role in their sleep quality. The bedding should be comfortable, supportive, and easy to clean. Opt for a bed specifically designed for puppies or dogs, with a washable cover and non-toxic materials. Additionally, place a soft blanket or towel over the bed to make your puppy feel more comfortable and secure.
3 – Structured/Enforced Naps
Establishing a consistent sleep routine is really beneficial for your puppy. By setting specific times for naps, bedtime, and waking up, your puppy learns when it is time to rest and when it is time to be active. Maintain their feeding, playtime, and walks around the same schedule each day to keep them on a routine. Consistency in your puppy’s daily routine will eventually lead to a more consistent sleep schedule.
4 – Balancing Activity and Rest Periods through the Day
Ensuring that your puppy has an appropriate balance between physical activity and rest is vital. Incorporate sufficient playtime and exercise for your puppy during the day, such as supervised games and outdoor walks. This will aid in using up their energy in a constructive manner and help them sleep better during the night. Likewise, ensure they have ample time for relaxation and napping throughout the day.
5 – Responding to Signs of Sleep Deprivation
It is essential to monitor your puppy for signs of sleep deprivation, such as lethargy, irritability, or lack of focus. If you notice any abnormal sleep patterns or behavior, consult your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues or sleep disorders. Reevaluate your puppy’s routine and make necessary changes to ensure they are receiving an adequate amount of rest each day.
Signs a Puppy Might Not be Getting Enough Sleep
Recognizing the signs that a puppy might not be getting enough sleep is an important part of puppy care. Some common signs to look out for include:
Increased Agitation – Sleep-deprived puppies often show signs of agitation and can become overly nippy or reactive.
Difficulty Focusing – A lack of sleep may result in your puppy finding it challenging to concentrate. This can make training more difficult, as they might forget commands they were previously able to follow.
Excessive Sleepiness – If your puppy is sleeping or seems overly tired during its typical wakeful hours, they might not be getting enough quality sleep.
Changes in Appetite – Both extreme sleepiness and a lack of sleep can lead to changes in a puppy’s appetite, which could either be disinterest in food or, conversely, constant hunger.
Hyperactivity – Surprisingly, some puppies may seem overly hyper when they are sleep-deprived. This “overtired” state can be confused with having lots of energy or excess energy but in reality, the puppy is struggling to wind down, and doesn’t know how to switch off.
When and How to Consult a Trainer or Behaviorist
If your puppy consistently displays signs of sleep deprivation, it might be time to consult with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. Trainers can provide useful techniques to encourage better sleep patterns and behavior management strategies.
When choosing a professional, look for one who uses science-based, positive reinforcement techniques. Recommendations from your vet, local pet store, or trusted friends can also help you find a reputable professional.
Remember, rapid changes in behavior, appetite, or energy levels, especially if accompanied by other signs of illness (like vomiting, diarrhea, or disorientation), should be addressed by a vet immediately. This could be a sign of a health issue more serious than simple sleep deprivation.
Puppy Sleep FAQ
Q1: How much sleep does a puppy need?
A1: Newborn puppies need about 20-22 hours of sleep per day. As they grow to 3-6 months, they still need a significant amount, about 15-20 hours. When they near maturity, puppies require approximately 12-14 hours of daily sleep.
Q2: Why does my puppy sleep so much?
A2: Puppies grow rapidly, both in terms of physical size and cognitive abilities. This growth uses a lot of energy, and so they need more rest than adult dogs. Also, sleep is an essential part of their development process.
Q3: Does my puppy’s diet affect their sleep?
A3: Yes, diet can significantly impact a puppy’s sleep. High-quality, nutritious food provides them with the energy they need to be active and aids in better sleep.
Q4: How can I ensure my puppy is comfortable while sleeping?
A4: Set up a quiet and peaceful sleeping environment for your puppy. Choose bedding specifically designed for puppies that offer comfort, support, and warmth. Also, establishing a consistent sleep schedule can help them feel more secure.
Q5: What should I do if my puppy is not sleeping enough?
A5: If your puppy consistently shows signs of sleep deprivation, or any other worrying behaviors or symptoms, consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible. Trainers or behaviorists can also help with adjustments to their routines to ensure better sleep.
Q6: Should my puppy sleep in my bed?
A6: This is largely a personal choice. Some puppy owners find it helps with bonding and reassures the puppy, but it’s important to consider factors like accidental injury, disturbances to your sleep, and potential difficulties in training the puppy to sleep alone later on.
Q7: Is it normal for a puppy to snore?
A7: Snoring in puppies is often harmless and can be due to their breed, sleeping position, or a temporary minor infection. However, excessive snoring, especially paired with other signs of respiratory distress, should be checked by a vet.
Q8: Can I train my puppy to sleep through the night?
A8: Yes, you can. Like human babies, puppies need some time to learn to sleep through the night. You can help them by establishing a consistent bedtime routine, offering a comfy sleep area, and avoiding play or feeding close to bedtime.
Q9: Should I wake up my puppy to pee at night?
A9: For young puppies who can’t hold their bladder for a full night, you will need to take them out for a potty break. As they grow and can go for longer without needing to pee, you can gradually reduce and eventually eliminate the nighttime breaks.
Q10: Is it necessary for my puppy to have a daytime nap?
A10: Yes, during a puppy’s growth phase especially, rest is important. Puppies expend a lot of energy exploring their new world and they need ample time for relaxation and naps throughout the day. Napping can also prevent puppies from becoming overtired, which can make them more agitated or hyperactive. They may even become humpy…
Q11: How do I know if my puppy needs less sleep?
A11: even if you feel they’re spending too much time in their dog bed, or worried that them getting this much sleep might mean they’re up in the middle of the night, you really shouldn’y worry, because sleep is a wonderful thing and is the single best way for a pup to let all that learning you’ve been giving them sink in.
Q12: Should I wake my sleeping puppy to facilitate potty training?
A12: if you need to change the puppy sleep schedule your pup’s on to for a bathroom break because you’re leaving, or things have to be a certain way? Yes – wake your pup. But if you don’t have to wake them and you can help pup go to the bathroom later in the day? Do that.
Q13: Should I use supplements or calming treats to help my puppy sleep?
A13: Honestly, no. you don’t need them. Take advantage of natural decompression activities and things that calm pups!
Understanding and addressing your puppy’s sleep needs is vital for their overall health and well-being. From their first few weeks of life, where they require up to 20 hours of sleep, to their later puppy stages where they need about 14-16 hours, being attentive to their changes in sleep requirements is important.
During their growth, various factors like diet, physical activity, environment, and stress may significantly impact a puppy’s sleep. Also, ensuring they have a comfortable and peaceful sleeping environment, appropriate bedding, a consistent sleep schedule, balanced activities, and rest periods can enhance their sleep quality. Keep an eye out for signs they may not be getting enough sleep like increased agitation, difficulty focusing, changes in appetite, and hyperactivity.
Recall that it’s always crucial to consult a professional if you notice persistent signs of sleep deprivation or any worrying behaviors or symptoms. Your puppy’s welfare is a community effort that may involve veterinarians, trainers, or behaviorists.
Your lovable, lively pup needs a good sleep routine just as much as they need play and affection. So, it’s up-to you to provide them with an environment and schedule that promotes quality Z’s. True, it can be challenging at times, but seeing your happy, healthy, and well-rested pup will make it all worthwhile!
Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!
Thanks to depositphotos.com for the images!