Why Sleep Is So Important For Dogs
There is nothing more comforting after a long walk with your beloved companion, than to hear the sweet sound of him or her, snoring peacefully in their bed! Knowing why sleep is so important for your dog will help you to make the best choices in terms of what dog bed to buy and how often your dog needs to rest.
Dogs on average will spend 12-14 hours sleeping per 24 hour period. This is an indication of a healthy pup and whilst some dog owners will think that their dog is being lazy, rest assured this is perfectly normal – There is a lot of work going on inside the dogs body whilst he is sleeping! Whilst the dog is sleeping, just like humans, he will have various sleep cycles which include REM ( rapid eye movement sleep) and will also enter a deep sleep where the body will start to restore and repair cells, promote growth and keep your dog healthy mentally and physically.
Not Enough Sleep?
Research suggests that a dog who does not get enough sleep, will suffer from a weakened immune system and be much more prone to illness, than those dogs who rest and sleep more frequently. Depending on the age size and breed of your dog, will depend on how much sleep he or she should have. Smaller/medium sized dogs like Bodhi, tend to need much less sleep than larger dogs, like say a Labrador or a Great Dane. Elderly dogs will spend much of the day sleeping outside of walks and exercise, this is perfectly normal and the same goes for puppies. Puppies for the first year of their lives will need sleep on a regular basis to grow and develop, much the same as human babies. This sleep is crucial for them to be able to grow and can significantly affect their behaviour, especially when needing the focus for concentration on obedience and other training.
Think about it, sleep for us humans allows the all-day electrical activity that takes place in the brain, to be processed and certain data stored. This is no different for dogs or any other living animal. Dogs sleep much better when properly exercised, they have much more restful, regenerative sleep and this will keep your dog healthy and more responsive. Sometimes dogs will sleep out of boredom and it is important to ensure that there is a healthy balance for rest and exercise, during the day.
The Science Behind Canine Sleep
Dogs believe it or not, are prone to depression if not allowed to expel their energy so balance is important. Good sleep for dogs significantly affects brain development, memory and capacity for learning. A dog who is sleep deprived is prone to developing a condition known as canine cognitive dysfunction which is remarkably like Alzheimer’s Disease and can really be quite distressing for the dog and the owner. The main way it affects the dog is that it can cause them to pace around and have real difficulty in settling or falling asleep, their memory and learning is affected as is overall, wellbeing.
Preparing Your Dog For Sleep
A good, solid daily exercise routine, some creative enrichment and mental activities, will ensure that your dog will naturally want to get some good sleep! Just like humans, routine is important for establishing how you prepare your dog for sleep during the day and for sleep, at night. Some of the best mental games to play with your dog, will be simple training commands, or you can teach him some new ones!
Brain enrichment games such as ‘find it’ or using a Kong to work for his food, is best. For those on a budget, the inner cardboard from a toilet roll or kitchen roll with a treat placed inside and folded at the ends, can really get your dog thinking about how to get that treat! There are plenty of brain games to play with your dog to get his brain working and this is just as important as daily exercise. Break the day up for your dog and spread the exercise and the games out. High end activities could feature at the start of the day, gradually reducing as the day goes on. The best way to lower your dogs stress levels before bedtime, is to avoid high energy play and to focus on keeping your dog calm and relaxed. A quick walk in the evening (Don't over do it 10 - 15 mins max) will allow your dog to go to the toilet and mentally wind down. A biscuit will work wonders, as you settle him into his comfortable bed for the evening and try to create some quiet calm to get your pooch into a great sleeping routine. A treat for getting into bed? I hear your dog say! What better way to communicate that his bed is the best place ever!
Let us know how you get on by commenting in the link below! We would love to hear about what bedtime routines you have for your fur-kids!