There's no doubt about it: dogs sure know how tosleep. The amount of time spent napping variesfrom dog to dog and depends on the dog's ageand personality. Counting little naps and longersnoozes, most dogs sleep about fourteen hours aday.
Nobody is sure why dogs sleep so much. Theamount of sleep that an animal needs dependsupon its species. Horses and cows may sleep onlythree or four hours daily, because they require long hours of grazing tosupply their bodies with sufficient food. Bats and opossums may sleepcloser to 20 hours.
The various breeds of dogs also seem to have different sleep requirements. Some very large breeds of dogs, likeNewfoundlands, Saint Bernards, and mastiffs, often spend a great deal of their lives sleeping – perhaps up to sixteenor even eighteen hours a day. For this reason they were often referred to as "mat dogs," because they could alwaysbe found lying in front of the fireplace, much like a giant, furry hearth mat.
Dogs sleep more than us, but they wake more frequently than we do. How much and when they sleep depends on thelevel of activity in their environment. A dog living as a pet in the home is likely to sleep more than a dog that worksfor a living, like a search and rescue dog or a dog working on a farm. Dogs are lucky – they are able to adjust theirsleep pattern so that they can be awake when there is something to do, and asleep the rest of the time.
Of course, today's modern indoor dog sometimes sleeps out of boredom. You can help your pet by providing plenty ofstimulation during the day – this can be in the form of toys, a companion, or plenty of walks and playtime with you. If he has enough to do during the day, he may stay awake when the sun is up and sleep at night when you do.
Dogs have the same sleep patterns as humans. When your dog first goes to sleep, he enters the slow wave or quiet phase of sleep. He lies still and is oblivious to his surroundings. His breathing slows, his blood pressure and body temperature drop, and his heart rate decreases.
After about ten minutes, your dog enters the rapid eye movement (REM) or active stage of sleep. He rolls his eyes under his closed lids, he may bark or whine, or may jerk his legs. During this stage, the brain activity is similar to that seen during the dreaming sleep of humans, and is evidence that dogs have dreams.
Incidentally, adult dogs spend about 10 to 12 percent of their sleeping time in REM sleep. Puppies spend a much greater proportion of their sleep time in this type of sleep, no doubt compacting huge quantities of newly acquired data.
Where Dogs Sleep
You may think your dog will sleep anywhere, but some dogs are very particular about where they sleep. In the wild, dogs sleep in dens, and your dog may seek out a sheltered place in your home, such as under a bed or in a closet. You may notice your dog circling or pawing at his sleeping place before he settles. This is to make a comfortable, den-like depression in which to sleep (even though it doesn't have much impact on a short pile rug).
You can make a comfortable bed for your dog or choose from the variety of plush beds at your pet store. Some people love snuggling up to their dogs at night and there is no question dogs love sharing their owners' bed. Advocates of this method say it strengthens the human-canine bond – not to mention the comfort and warmth your dog can provide for you. However, some animal behaviorists say this can upset the sometimes precarious hierarchy, because the dog may get delusions of grandeur. In other words, he may think he is higher on your household's social scale than some other members of the family. Four-on-the-floor may be the order of the day for some of these characters.