If you share your home with a couch potato pooch, you may be surprised to witness how much he happily sleeps away. You may have asked yourself why dogs sleep so much. Read on to learn about sleeping behaviors of today’s house dog and how to easily tackle Fido’s sleeping problems.
How Much Should An Adult Dog Sleep?
Your dog’s ancestors spent much of their waking time hunting and scavenging for food, hunting or herding alongside their human companions — and my, how times have changed. Today’s house dog has an updated daily to-do list, and it includes lazily passing about 50 percent of the day in peaceful dreamland. An adult dog indulges in a daily average of 12 to 14 hours of sleep, but this isn’t a hard and steady rule. For instance, active, hard-working police dogs take fewer naps on the job than the lap dog cuddled on the couch at home.
Adult Dog Sleeping Problems
While oversleeping in puppies is rarely a concern I hear from dog owners, if you notice your adult dog seems to be sleeping more, it may indicate a medical concern. Adulthood is when many canine diseases begin developing, such as hypothyroidism, one of the more common diseases of adult and middle-aged dogs. Hypothyroidism occurs when there is a decrease in circulating thyroid hormone levels in your dog’s blood. Because thyroid hormone helps maintain a healthy metabolism, dogs with low levels tend to sleep more and are prone to obesity. Other clinical signs include a dull hair coat, inability to exercise and heat-seeking behaviors. While this can be a dangerous disease if left unchecked, it is easily managed with an oral medication.
On the opposite end of the sleep spectrum, if your adult dog never seems to wind down, this also may be a sign of a medical problem. While sleeping disorders are rare, they can occur and present as seizure-like movements. More often, a common culprit that ruins healthy canine sleep is itchy skin from fleas or allergies. If you suspect your dog has trouble sleeping, be sure to ask your veterinarian if there is cause for concern.
Adult Dog Sleeping Tips
While you are working all day (perhaps unlike a dog), if left alone and bored, Rover will fill his hours catching his ZZZs. Not only can this create sleeping problems at night for your dog — and consequently you, this sedentary behavior can lead to obesity and many behavior problems. While I’m not asking you to quit your job, there are several practical ways you can enrich your dog’s daily life and encourage healthy sleep habits.
1. Give your dog jobs to do while he is home alone. I am a huge fan of food puzzles — sturdy containers that hold food inside and pose a challenge for dogs to reach the food. Food puzzles require patience, time and problem solving, which are great ways to give your dog some mental exercise in your absence. The best thing about these puzzles is you can always “up the ante” by escalating the difficulty level of the puzzle. For instance, you can use bigger pieces of food that are more cumbersome to retrieve or freeze the entire puzzle after prepping it to draw out the time it takes to solve.
2. Chewing is a part of life for your dog. Not only is it good to maintain jaw strength and keep teeth and gums healthy, chewing is fun and relieves your pup’s pent-up anxiety. It’s not worth learning this lesson the hard way — trust me — so always ensure your dog has a safe and appropriate chew outlet.
3. Wild dogs live in packs, and your dog needs canine interaction, too. While some dogs are more social than others, if your dog enjoys the opportunity to regularly romp off-leash with same species buddies, make sure to fit this into your weekly schedule. This doesn’t mean you have to budget for doggy day care every day of the week, but consider making a Saturday trip to a dog park part of you and your pup’s routine.
4. There are plenty of ways the two of you can have fun together as well, but don’t limit your imagination to the classic game of fetch. Dogs love classic games including tug of war, chase, hide-and-seek, find the treat and even grooving out with you to the radio. Certain dogs will also thrive well in agility or other organized sports and activities.
5. The best way to ensure your dog gets a good night’s sleep is to engage him during the day, but it is also important to take time to wind down at night. Make sure your dog has a comfy sleeping spot, and limit pre-bedtime activity to a soothing petting session. Your dog will wake up refreshed and ready to wag.