If you gifted the kids a puppy for Christmas thinking that the new play companion would get them off your hands only to discover that it spends up to 20 hours a day sleeping, you are not alone. The short answer to “Do puppies sleep a lot?” is a resounding yes, but let’s look into some of the reasons why.
Why Do Puppies Sleep So Much?
According to Vetinfo, puppies sleep so much more than the average 14 hours for a grown dog “because they have a lot going on in their lives.” They are learning, playing, adjusting, and encountering new people and objects all while physically growing in a way that requires a lot of energy.
According to Petcube, sleep is the time when dogs process what happened during the day, when their bodies repair themselves, and when puppies’ bodies are able to divert much-needed energy into growth.
It’s not just puppies that sleep a lot for this reason— it’s all sorts of baby animals. Human newborns require about 16 hours of total sleep according to Stanford Children’s Health. Kittens can sleep for even more than 20 hours according to Perfect Fit. All this is to say, growing animals need sleep, and your pup catching a whole lot of Zs is not a reason to fret.
Nightly Wake Ups and Whining
Despite all this talk of puppies sleeping for many hours, you may be wondering why this adorable creature is waking you up throughout the night. According to dog trainer Teena Patel, who is quoted in PetMD, “puppies wake up so often because they’re lonely for their mothers.” They also require potty breaks throughout the night.
To alleviate both of these issues, experts recommend being prepared with a doggy crate lined with a pee pad that you can place in your room for the first couple of weeks. This way, when your pup starts crying at night, you can place a hand by them to calm them down with your increasingly familiar presence and smell. The pee pad will help avoid tedious cleanups from inevitable accidents as your puppy settles in.
Don’t worry, this won’t last forever. According to pawtracks, the ultimate pet owner’s guide, most breeds of dogs will be able to sleep through the night by the time they are 16 weeks old.
How to Train Your Puppy to Sleep Through the Night
Besides the crate and pee pad, there are a number of tactics to make sure that your puppy’s sleep is on track to support its growth and development. The key word when it comes to your puppy’s sleeping is routine. You will want to methodically establish a routine that works well for your puppy and for you.
Keep in mind that puppies’ energy comes in short bursts, leading to adorable hectic playtimes followed by at-times sudden naps. The U.K. Kennel Club recommends “a ratio of five minutes exercise per month of age (up to twice a day) until the puppy is fully grown.”
To establish a routine, create a standard cycle of mealtimes, playtimes, naps, and sleep time throughout the day. Make sure to account for your own 8 or so hours of sleep, not letting your puppy nap through the whole day in a way that will keep you up all night.
According to Vetinfo, “Some puppies don't know when they're tired, and will wind up playing until they're too exhausted to continue and fall asleep wherever they happen to be.” That is where the value of establishing set times for activities as a pet owner comes in. Cut off boisterous playtime a couple of hours before bed to make sure that your pup isn’t overstimulated and unable to fall asleep once it is time for you to go to bed.
If your puppy has trouble falling asleep at night, try turning on a fan or another type of steady calming noise to help them drift off.
With all of these tactics in mind, your puppy should be a good, consistent sleeper in no time. And in those tough moments, remember that taking care of dogs has actually been proven to lower stress. Those tough early puppy days will pay off in the long run.
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