how much sleep does a dog need

My dog is busybusy all day long and never stops!

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You may enjoy your dog keeping you company all day - but if your lifestyle is very active and busy you’re actually not helping him! Like toddlers, dogs need to have naps and calm periods built into their day. They are crepuscular beasties - which means they are most alert at twilight, their ancestral hunting time.

And just like toddlers, not getting these vital rest periods will result in disturbed behaviour. For your dog this means that he’s much shorter-tempered, easily agitated, hard to reason with.

This is making your life much harder than necessary! And if you are blessed with a Growly Dog who is already disposed to reactivity, fear, anxiety, or aggression, you can 10x that!

Plenty of ideas in this free 8-lesson email course for calming down your life with your dog!

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And as we know that stress is the silent killer for humans, so it can be for dogs, predisposing them to ailments that they are unable to resist.

I wrote about sleep and puppy-biting a while ago. And I’m revisiting this subject because it is SOOOO important, and so seldom understood!

So how can you curb your frantic dog’s activity and improve life for both of you?

Bedtimes

The first thing to do is establish sleeping areas in the home where your dog can sleep without being disturbed. So rather than letting your puppy crash where he runs out of steam, always transfer him to his crate or bed. Build these sleep-places into your day from the start.

Protected sleep times are also important to build in from Day 1. My dogs are all adult, and as I write they are all in or on various beds near me. They sleep while I work (lucky them!). This pattern of “when nothing’s happening you need to sleep” is carefully baked in from the day the puppy arrives with me.

A puppy who’s been awake for more than an hour or so needs to go to bed!

But you can still teach an older dog this way of life, even if there are established patterns of lunacy!

Teaching an older dog to rest

How much sleep should a healthy dog have? You may be surprised to find that it’s A LOT! This post will explain it to you, and how to achieve the right level for your dog | FREE BOOK! | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #doghealth, #dogbehavior, #dogsleep, #overexciteddog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Here’s an extract from my book series Essential Skills for your Growly but Brilliant Family Dog which you can find here. I’m repeating it here because it illustrates so well how quickly you can influence some of your dog’s behaviours when you approach it the right way.

“I was visiting a very caring couple who had brought their young rescue collie Tim to classes when they first got him. I was glad they’d got in touch again, because the young dog was very fearful and couldn’t cope well with life. We arranged a visit.

While there, it became clear that this hyperactive dog was wearing himself out. For the first twenty minutes of my visit he never stopped. He raced in and out of the room, jumped up my front, my back, chewed my hair, poked the other dog, ran off again, paced … never rested.

So I quickly amended my training plan to include some relaxation work. After some active games to get Tim to engage with me, I started teaching him to slow down and relax. After just five minutes of this, his owner expressed amazement at seeing her frantic dog actually lying down still for more than ten seconds at a time!

When I finished the short session and released him, what did he do? Do you think he went straight back into busybusy mode, panting and racing?

Nope. He just slid onto the floor beside us, and as he lay there his head started to loll, his eyelids drooped, and he was … asleep!

To the total astonishment of his owner, who had never seen him sleep in the day!

So how much sleep should Tim be having?

Did you know that dogs need to have an average seventeen hours of sleep a day to work at their optimum level with the least amount of stress?

Seventeen hours.

I can hear you all saying, “My dog never sleeps that much.”

Well, it’s seventeen hours for adult dogs - obviously more for puppies. And some dogs need to be helped to achieve this total.

Tim had had a poor start in life before his present owners took him in and gave him a secure and loving home. So he’d developed habits of nervous and stressy behaviour which had stuck with him. Showing him how to relax transformed him in just a few short minutes and allowed him to get some much-needed rest.

His owners are carrying on this work with him, and it will make all the other things we have to teach him so much easier.”

Calm

Want to know what I did to relax this hyper dog? To get the exact program, work through the first book in the Essential Skills for a Brilliant Family Dog series: Calm Down! Step-by-Step to a Calm, Relaxed, and Brilliant Family Dog It’s free at all e-book stores, and also available in paperback online and you can order it from any good bookshop. Quite apart from the usefulness of this skill for any dog, anywhere, if you have a reactive dog it will hugely benefit him.

Be aware that teaching calm and relaxation is not teaching a stay exercise with the traditional stern shouting and finger-waving! (Although, curiously, you will get a solid stay as a result.)

The object is quite different - to change your dog’s mental state, not to anchor his physical position.

Learning how to switch off can also help with Separation Anxiety. If this is an area of distress for your dog, you could do with going through a whole protocol to make positive changes. This book by Patricia McConnell has a step-by-step program. It’s not an overnight fix, and few people in my experience can be bothered to resolve this issue for their poor dog - unless he’s destroying the house and defecating all over the carpet. But think how much happier you’ll all be if instead of agitated pacing when you’re out, you just get peaceful snoozing.

I’ll also mention the Relaxation Protocol. (These audios have been generously provided by Roxanne Hawn and are free to download.) This is a program which takes incremental steps from frantic non-resting dog to chilled-out dog with a lower heart-rate and dreamy feelings of comfort and relaxation.

It’s a simple program: you don’t have to do Day 1 only on Day 1 - repeat each “Day” till you have it right, then move on to the next “Day”. I choose to have the dog lying down for this - more conducive to dozing. It takes time, yes, but it’s time well spent helping your dog destress. You’ll feel as if you’ve had a relaxation session yourself when it’s over!

It’s worth getting started on it to help your dog access the calm side of his mind, which he may have lost sight of in his anxiety. Again, few people in my experience follow through on this and complete the cycle in several different places. But those who do get MASSIVE improvement! It’s especially useful for the never-resting dog, the hyper dog, the anxious or fearful dog, your Growly Dog.

For plenty more tips on getting the best out of your relationship with your dog, get this free 8-part email course

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ZZZs are worth £££s and $$$s

How much does my puppy need to sleep? Most people are shocked to hear this answer! Check it out and instantly get a calmer, nip-free home | FREE BOOK! | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #puppynipping, #doghealth, #dogbehavior, #dogsleep, #overexciteddog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

“You have to help us - he’s shredding our hands,” wailed the girl on the phone. 

“He just goes mad - he’s vicious!

She was talking about her new puppy - a Cocker Spaniel crossed with a Poodle (a difficult mix at the best of times). I asked the puppy’s age. 

“He’s eleven weeks. OW! Scamp, NO! Get off! Oh no, my jumper …”

 “How long has Scamp been awake?” I asked.

“Only three hours,” she replied.

“Then there’s your problem. Put him straight to bed. Now.”

With a puppy as young as Scamp, one hour of being awake is usually quite enough. Time to put him away in his crate for a ziz. 

Get your free guide, learn how to stop that nipping, and start loving your puppy again!!

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With my latest puppy Coco, I would shut him in his crate at nap time, put a blanket over the top and three sides to make a cosy den, leave the room and shut the door. There’d be a bone or chew toy if he felt the need to do something. If there was a lot of noise outside I would play soothing music to mask it.

Any noise from the puppy before falling asleep would be totally ignored, so he quickly didn’t bother to make any. If your puppy is bored, sleep will soon waft over him!

When I returned a couple of hours later, my blissfully relaxed puppy would be stretching and smiling and ready to start the adventure again. Check out this piece for exactly how to achieve this blessed state!

As he grew he was able to manage longer times of being up and doing. 

Getting frayed and fractious, bitey and snappy, is a sure sign of an overtired puppy who is unable to control himself. Time to pop him in his crate or playpen, leave him in peace and wait for him to awaken refreshed.

Older Dogs

And the same goes for older dogs. They need their beauty sleep! And they need much more than they’re usually allowed. Research has shown that an adult dog needs 17 hours of sleep a day to be mentally and physically healthy. 17 hours! How many dogs get that much sleep?

If your dog seems to be on the go the whole time, running himself ragged, chasing birds, chewing up anything he finds, alert at the smallest sound - you need to organise proper nap times, just as you would for a young child. Make them part of your routine so that your dog’s internal clock gets in sync with them.

At the moment I am working, so my dogs are all snoozing. They no longer need to be confined to a crate as they were as young puppies. There are many beds here and they are free to sleep where they will. 

How well do you feel after a good night’s sleep? Your dog needs much more than you do to feel as good! Check out this post to find out more. | FREE BOOK! | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #puppynipping, #newrescuedog, #doghealth, #dogbehavior, #dogsleep, #overexciteddog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

So Cricket the Whippet is sunbathing on the grass outside. Rollo the Border Collie is dozing in the shade. Coco is on a hammock bed near me, and Lacy is on the floor just behind my chair. 

Not only are they going to awake rested, but I can work undisturbed. I can pay lots of attention to them when I’m ready, and I know nothing in the house or garden will have been damaged.

Early crate training ensured that the only chewing they ever did was of the approved items (bones, toys) which lived in their crates. Establishing early habits like this is hugely helpful later on. The chewing habit doesn’t have to be broken because it never got out of hand!

Start on Day 1

So start as you mean to continue, with lots of naps throughout the day for your young pup or new rescue dog. This will build a lasting routine for your puppy, and help to build feelings of security and confidence for your new rescue dog (who doesn’t need to brave the big bad world yet. Not until she knows this is home and you can be trusted to keep her safe.)

Always start from where you are! We can’t alter the past. We can just assess the present situation, see where it needs to improve, and change the future.

Dogs need to sleep much longer than most people think. Find out how to get some much-needed peace and calm from your over-excited dog | FREE BOOK! | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #puppynipping, #newrescuedog, #doghealth, #dogbehavior, #dogsleep, #overexciteddog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

So your present dog, who races round all day and never sleeps, will need to start with short naps - gradually getting longer - with you still around. Feeding all meals in the crate will help her to love the place, and a foodtoy to lick and slurp while dozing off will be ideal. 

Teaching her how to relax on her mat will help her learn how to switch off. This book will show you how, in easy steps.

Yes, you can have a calm house and a relaxed dog. The first step is to sort out sleeping times.

Sleep is the great healer!


Check out our Free Courses and Courses pages to see how else you can help your mad dog become your Brilliant Family Dog!