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Everything you ever wanted to know about your sleeping dog

Have you ever spent a day at home with your dog, perhaps working from home or on a lazy weekend day? Did you notice how often your dog is snoozing? Eva loves to sleep, the more the better. Especially now she’s getting older (can you believe she’s turning nine in one week?!). And I enjoy watching her nap. It looks so peaceful and calm, until she starts twitching her paws and grumbling with her lips. That made me wonder. Why do dogs sleep so much? And is there also a possibility of too much sleep? Do dogs dream? Should they sleep on a bed? Keep reading to find out everything you ever wanted to know about your sleeping dog.

Just like you and I, dogs spend most of their time sleeping at night. However, this doesn’t stop our furry friends from getting some much-needed shut-eye during the day. Unlike us, at least I hope for you, dogs tend to sleep in much shorter sleep cycles. On average they sleep about 45 minutes in one go, while for people it can be for seven hours (more or less, depending on your individual sleeping pattern and needs).

Nevertheless, overall, dogs need much more sleep than the average human. For the average human adult, the recommended amount of sleep is 7-9 hours a day (or night).

For dogs on the other hand the average increases to 12-14 hours per day. With no need to go to work or the supermarket, they have plenty of time to cash in these hours of sweet naps partially during the day.

The above are averages, the actual amount of sleep your dog needs is dependent on multiple factors. Breed, age, personality, activity levels, and other aspects determine how much rest your dog needs to recover. Some breeds that tend to sleep the most are the large Mastiff, Saint Bernard, Bernese Mountain Dog, and Greyhound, who can need up to a whopping 18 hours a day. But it’s not only the large dogs, there are also some smaller, but short-snouted breeds, which need a lot of zzz’s. Bulldogs, Pugs, and French Bulldogs are also well-known competitors in the Beauty Sleep Olympics.

Have you ever played with your dog, went on to do something else for ten minutes, and when you looked back your dog was sound asleep? It can be envious for some people how quickly dogs can fall into a slumber. However, they tend to be noticeably light sleepers as well and will wake up just as quickly as they go to dreamland.

Similarly, as for you and me, a good night (or day) of sleep is important for your dog’s health. It benefits their immune system, learning capabilities, brain function, and muscle recovery. Moreover, dogs with higher activity levels tend to fall asleep quicker.

On average dogs can take about 10 minutes to go from falling asleep to REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement). This sleeping phase is when your dog starts moving their limbs. When she dreams, it is one of the few times Eva makes a sound. Because dogs need so much sleep every day, they cannot waste too much time lying awake. I’m sure my husband would argue I’m just as fast as a dog in falling asleep. However, for the average healthy person, it would take at least 15-20 minutes.

Let’s zoom in a bit more on the REM sleeping phase, the dreaming part. For a long time, it has been debated by scientists if dogs have the ability to dream. Even though, I’m sure most of you dog parents and dog lovers have seen their dreaming pooches before. Twitching legs, running movements, and growling lips. However, in research, there needs to be more proof than our pet parent’s intuition.

David M. Peña-Guzmán author of “When Animals Dream: The Hidden World of Animal Consciousness,” ploughed his way through piles of animal sleep research trying to find an answer to that question. And he did get closer, saying on the Big Brains podcast of the University of Chicago, “We do have enough evidence to believe that other species have these nightly experiences of a fantastical, almost phantasmagoric world.”

In other words, it could be possible for our dogs to dive into a dream state when they sleep as well. It seems the behaviours of sleeping pooches could somewhat be compared to humans. When we dream, we can also move our limbs and speak. Similarly, the electric responses in our brains and bodies are comparable.

Usually, when you fear your dog is facing any health implications, it’s not only their sleeping pattern that changes. Keep an eye out for any other changes, such as loss of appetite and skin conditions. Nevertheless, whenever you encounter a change in sleeping pattern that makes you doubt, it is always best to consult a vet.

If you notice your dog is dreaming, it’s recommended to not disturb them. When you try to wake your furry friend, you might startle them instead. We don’t know what they were dreaming about. Perhaps they dreamt of being in a dangerous or scary situation, and when they’re woken up it may take them some time to recognise it was a dream. In the meantime, to protect themselves from their dream, they might accidentally bite you. Just like you don’t like to be woken up from your nightly slumber, let your pup enjoy it too. Even if it’s a bad dream, you can comfort them as soon as they wake up. Until then, enjoy their fluffy paw twitches.

It doesn’t cause harm to your furry friend to sleep on the floor, however, it may be better for your dog’s joints to sleep on a dog bed. Especially with age when dogs become more prone to hip dysplasia and arthritis, a good dog bed can help cushion their bones and joints. There are even studies that researched the positive impact orthopedic dog beds can have on your dog’s health.  

Sometimes your four-legged friend will prefer to sleep next to the neatly picked-out bed you got for them. There could be multiple reasons for this. They could be too hot and want to cool down on the cold floor. Check here how to help your dog beat the summer heat. Or perhaps the bed is too far away from you and they want to get closer. It could also be a habit, especially if you have adopted a furry family member that isn’t used to having their own bed.

So, there you have it. Not only do you love your sleeping time, but your dog does too. So much so, they sleep on average 10-14 hours a day, which can be even more depending on their age, breed, activity level, and general health. And when they fall into their slumber in approximately 10 minutes, they’re bound to go into a wonderous dream world. Next time you wake up from a dream about your dog, know that they may have had one about you as well.

My phone is filled with photos of Eva sleeping. If she could talk and see them, she would probably report me for stalking. But I just can’t help myself. Sleeping fluffballs are too cute! Please tell me I’m not the only one with this seemingly strange addiction. Share your sleeping pup pictures with us, we love to see them all!

Thanks for reading!

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3 thoughts on “Everything you ever wanted to know about your sleeping dog”

  1. Pingback: Unravel the mystery of dog age in human years!

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