For dogs as for humans, sleep is not a luxury, it's a necessity. Dogs who don't get enough of it can develop behavioral and physical problems, and can have difficulty learning new things. The length of time that Sparky can stay awake depends on various factors, including age, health, personality and activity level. His body will tell him when it's time to sleep or nap. Knowing what to expect of your pet's sleeping and waking habits should eliminate unnecessary concern.
An average dog might be active 20 percent of a given day, rest for 30 percent of the day and sleep 50 percent of it, according to "The Dog Bible" by Tracie Hotchner. When your dog is a puppy, these figures greatly vary, especially during growth spurts. If he's not eating, playing or going potty, he's most likely sleeping or napping. Before the age of 16 weeks, don't expect him to sleep for eight hours straight at night, because he'll probably need a potty break or two.
If Sparky is a small or medium-size dog, you can expect to enjoy his company off and on for about 10 hours a day; he'll sleep about 14. If he's a large-breed dog, he can sleep up to 20 hours over an entire day. Senior dogs might have more difficulty sleeping. Discomfort, pain, hormone imbalances, urinary tract infections, kidney disease and cognitive dysfunction, which is similar to dementia in humans, might be to blame. Consult a veterinarian for a diagnosis and treatment recommendation.
If Sparky is active and awake at night, allowing him to sleep in your bedroom might moderate that. His wild ancestors slept in dens with their entire pack. Since you're now the pack leader, your presence might stop Sparky's restlessness at night and might also make him more protective over you. Ideally, have him sleep in a crate or dog bed in your room, instead of in your bed, because this might affect your sleep and your personal life if you have a partner.
To help your dog adapt to your sleep schedule, exercise and play with him during the day so he's tired at night. Avoid giving him food or water about three hours before going to sleep, and walk him before bedtime so he can go potty. If your dog's a puppy and still wakes up in the middle of the night, stick to business: Take him to go potty and then immediately go back to bed. Avoid playing with him and fully waking him up. With consistency, your dog will eventually be on your schedule.
- Understanding and Training Your Dog or Puppy; H. Ellen Whiteley
- The Dog Bible; Tracie Hotchner
- Your German Shepherd Puppy Month by Month; Debra Eldredge and Liz Palika
- The Housebreaking Bible: Surviving the Night With Your New Puppy
- The Adopted Dog Bible; Kim Saunders
- VeterinaryPartner.com: Nighttime Waking in Senior Dogs
- David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images