Have you ever seen your pet moving around when they’re asleep and wondered exactly what dogs dream about? Are they swimming in the sea, running in the local park or are they just floating around in doggy dreamland?
In this article, we’ll be answering all your questions about dogs and sleep. We’ll be talking dreams, sleeping position and we’ll also be covering puppies and sleep 🐶💤.
How do dogs sleep?
Like us hoomins, different pooches will sleep in different positions, and most dogs will also change their sleeping positions throughout their sleep. There are loads of different positions for napping, but to make things simpler, we’ve summarise some of the main ones:
- The foetal position. This is one of the most common sleeping positions and involves your dog laying on their side with their body curled into a ball. It’s called the foetal position because it mimics the way pups curl up in their mum’s tummies before they’re born.
- Sleeping on the side. This position is very similar to the foetal position, but your mutt isn’t as curled up as much, and their legs will normally be either relaxed or stretched out.
- The curl-up. In this position your mutt will be upright (rather than on their side) and their body will be curled into a neat circle like a cat.
- Sleeping belly-up. This is where your dog lies flat on their back. Your pup may also have their arms and legs sticking out in opposite directions- a position which is often referred to as ‘the starfish’.
- Sleeping belly-down. In this position your dog will lie flat out on their belly- the exact opposite of the flat-out position. If your dog has their limp sticking out from underneath them this can also be called ‘the superman’.
Why do dogs sleep on their back?
Dogs will often lie flat out on their back while they are sleeping, and they can do this for a number of reasons:
- If they are getting a bit hot while they are asleep, rolling onto their back can often help your dog to cool down.
- Some pooches find being on their back more comfortable or will switch between this and other positions in order to get settled.
- Mutts will often sleep on their backs because they are feeling safe and content- as this is a position will often feel vulnerable to a dog (especially the starfish position!). And this means that most dogs will only lie like this when they are feeling super relaxed and secure.
How long should a dog sleep?
How long a dog should sleep will depend on a few different things. First off, different individuals will need different amounts of sleep, but the need for ZZZs will also depend on age, activity level, diet, breed and lots of other factors. That being said, as general rule the average a pooch will normally need between 12-14hours of sleep over a 24-hour period.
Why do dogs sleep so much?
It’s completely normal for dogs to sleep more than humans. However, if you notice your dogs is sleeping more than usual, or is sleeping an excessive amount, this can be due to:
- Difficulty sleeping
And all of these factors can also cause your dog to sleep less. So if you think your pooch may be having trouble with sleep – always speak to your vet for advice and your local pet shop might have some tips too.
What do dogs dream about?
Studies have been carried out on other animals (such as rats) measuring brain activity during sleep, and this does seem to verify that animals dream- just like us! However, it’s difficult to know exactly what it is that our dogs dream about (and think about for that matter) but it’s likely that their dreams will often involve their day-to-day activities and experiences such as running after a ball or sniffing out their favourite treats!
Puppies and sleep
One of the main things to be aware of when your first buy a puppy is what sleeping arrangements you will put in place. While it can be super tempting to let your puppy snuggle up with you in bed, this habit can be super tricky to break once your pup gets used to being with you throughout the night.
One thing’s for sure is that your puppy will definitely need to get their shut-eye, as baby dogs are super active and energetic when they’re awake, so it’s essential they get a chance to recharge their batteries in order for them to be happy and healthy. And this means it’s really important to decide right from the get-go if your pup will be sleeping with you or not so you are able to get them into a bedtime routine.
Should I leave my puppy to cry at night?
While having your pup stay in bed with you isn’t often an ideal situation, you do want to try and build a trusting and positive relationship with your new pup when they first arrive home. Your puppies first night in their new home can be very daunting- especially when they are away from you, so you may want to allow them to sleep in your bedroom (or another nearby room) for the first week or so.
That being said, it’s important to still set boundaries by putting them in their own puppy bed (and you can find out how to select the right bed here) or a crate lined with newspaper, with access to water and also some blankets to snuggle up in. But bear in mind that, if you do choose to have a puppy bed in your room (instead of a crate), it may just be too tempting for your pup not to try and get in bed with you!
It’s also important to make sure your puppy is well fed and has been to the loo right before you settle down to sleep. And you may also want to give them a chance to settle while you are still nearby, especially during their first few nights in their new home with you. And it’s then a case of slowly transitioning them to the area where you intend them to sleep in future. And be sure to always reward any good behaviour- for instance if your puppy is quiet and well behaved throughout the night.
Be aware that your puppy will probably cry throughout the night at first- however much you try to get them happy and settled. This can be very distressing for owners but it’s important not to go to them every time they cry as this will prevent them from having structure in their bedtime routine, and never punish them.
Now you know what dogs dream about! Want to know more about puppies and training? Check out our ‘Tips for puppy training’ article.