Dog Sleep Habits: From Puppies to Seniors

Dogs have interesting, diverse sleep habits throughout their lives! Puppies tend to sleep all day between bouts of play and mealtimes. And elderly dogs, struggling with pain and discomfort, may have interrupted sleep. Whatever age your dog is, here are some insights into their sleep habits.


Puppies sleep… a LOT. On a typical day, puppies spend between 16 and 20 hours sleeping. That’s far more hours asleep than awake. But there are reasons for that. Puppies need to rest to allow their brains to develop things like memory and process what they’ve learned during their waking hours. Puppies tend to play and zoom about just before they collapse for a nap.

Pups like to sleep with their caregivers nearby. This is a safety instinct. To ensure your dog gets the sleep they need, it’s important to keep a steady routine and a quiet place for them to sleep. For instance, you should set up an area of your home with soft blankets or a bed for your puppy. You can also train your dog to sleep in your bed if you’d prefer. Some puppies may be restless in your bed the first few nights, but eventually, they settle down to rest.

Most puppies will need to get up at night to use the bathroom. So, be prepared to wake up at least once to get them outside.

Adult Dogs

An adult dog typically sleeps between 12 and 14 hours per day. Why do dogs need so much sleep? Well, some believe it’s because dogs spend less time in the REM cycle of sleep. They are more vigilant than people and wake often due to noises and other reasons. Therefore, they compensate by sleeping more.

Some breeds have different sleep habits. According to the American Kennel Club, “Working dogs, for example, must stay awake for such physical and mental tasks as protecting property, pulling sleds, and doing water rescues. Dogs who aren’t bred for a certain task (or have “retired” from their role) will lie around most of the day, with snoozing at the top of the agenda.”

Like puppies, it’s important to give your dog a routine that supports their health. That means setting time aside for regular meal times, regular sleep times, adequate exercise, and bathroom breaks. Dogs without a routine often develop bad behaviors that lead to declined health and chaos in your household.

Elderly Dogs

Larger breeds are considered “senior” when they hit about 6 years old. While smaller dogs are considered older when they reach 7. That’s because smaller dogs tend to live longer. As dogs age, their energy will drop considerably. A dog that was once able to join you on a two-mile hike might become exhausted after a walk around the block.

You can expect your elderly dogs to sleep more throughout the day. More sleep is totally normal, but if you have strange situations such as your dog not waking when there’s lots of noise, or sleeping while sitting up, there may be something medical going on with your dog, and you should consult with a veterinarian.

Since pain is another issue that your senior dog might be dealing with, buying them an orthopedic mat for their crate and bed is a good idea. Lots of elderly dogs have arthritis that keeps them up at night. Providing a comfortable bed for them to lay on will improve their sleep.

Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Sleep?

If your dog suddenly changes their sleep habits and you feel your household is disrupted, there might be something wrong. Whether it’s behavioral or medical, you’ll want to seek the advice of your veterinarian. Only they can diagnose the issue. Some common reasons dogs will sleep more include:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Diabetes
  • Hearing loss
  • Canine depression

Most of these issues are treatable or will require a change of expectation. As dogs age, they will likely develop issues that impact their sleep. When in doubt, ask your vet.


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