Although puppies may seem like little bundles of energy, in fact, they sleep 15-20 hours a day. One minute your puppy may be a miniature tornado, and the next he's fallen soundly asleep, almost mid-activity. Sleep is essential to healthy growth: during sleep his central nervous system, brain, immune system, and muscles are developing. All of that sleep also helps him rest up during growth spurts.
Because the world is such an exciting, stimulating place for a puppy, he won't always pay attention to his "internal clock" telling him it's time to rest. You can help by following a few simple guidelines for both daytime naps and bedtime.
Daytime Sleep Tips For Your Puppy
Leave your puppy undisturbed. He's going to nap several times during the day, and although he may fall asleep in place, encourage him to nap in his safe place: a crate, a bed in your bedroom, or a quiet place in the house where he can nap undisturbed. Speaking of undisturbed, household members, especially children, should leave your puppy alone while he is sleeping.
Follow a schedule. Plan his day so that active time is followed by quiet time for sleep. He'll most likely be ready for a nap after playtime or a walk, sleep for a while and then wake up ready for anything. Your puppy may nap every hour or so, sleeping from 30 minutes to as long as two hours. All of this sleep is perfectly normal.
Show your puppy where to sleep. If he seems drowsy and ready for a nap, guide him to his crate, bed, or wherever you've made his sleeping space. It may take some time for him to get the idea, but over time, he'll recognize that spot as the place for sleep. It might be hard to resist cuddling him and letting him fall asleep in your lap, but that's setting up some bad habits: you don't want him to be dependent on you to fall asleep.
Nighttime Sleep Tips For Your Puppy
Establish a bedtime routine. Just like human babies, puppies rarely sleep through the night. He may even need a potty break during the night at this young age. In fact, he might not sleep through the night until he's about 16 weeks old. But you should be establishing a good bedtime routine early. Make sure you've created a sleeping place for him. Many owners place the puppy's crate in their bedroom, so he can feel that his family is close by. Make it an inviting place, with a blanket or soft towels and maybe a soft toy.
Keep his sleep area quiet and dim. If you watch TV in bed, keep the volume down and the light low. You may even want to use blackout shades if the room gets early morning light. The quiet and dark will be his cue that it's time for sleep. Be prepared for some whining, barking, or howling before he settles in for the night. By giving him a routine, you'll teach him that nighttime is for sleeping, and you both will get a better night's sleep.
Your Puppy's Sleep Schedule
Puppies thrive on routine and structure. Along with a feeding routine and house training routine, a sleep schedule will help both you and your puppy adjust to living together. This sample schedule should help you on your way to establishing a good routine, for canine and human family members.
- When the puppy wakes up, take him out for a "bathroom" trip.
- Puppies usually need to relieve themselves after eating, so another potty break.
- 30-60 minutes of playtime, social time, or walks.
- Nap time. If your puppy just drops in his tracks off to sleep, leave him undisturbed. It would be better, however, if you can encourage him to nap in his special sleeping place. He may sleep up to two hours or as little as half an hour.
- Potty break.
- He may need another bathroom break or just be ready to play and explore. An hour is probably his limit before he's ready to sleep again.
- It's nap time again.
- Take him outside for a bathroom break when he wakes up.
- And then it's playtime again, especially if he can play with you. No matter how much fun you're having, don't let him get overtired. If you've ever been with a baby or toddler when it's past his nap time, you know that over-stimulation and exhaustion can lead to unfortunate behavior. Guide him to his crate or sleeping place and encourage him to wind down. Chances are pretty good he'll settle in for a nap.
- Potty break.
- The evening hours should follow a regular routine. Dinner, a walk, time playing and interacting with family members, a quick bathroom trip before bed, and then settling down for nighttime sleep. As he begins to think of his crate (or whatever sleeping space you've arranged) as his place, it'll get easier for him to settle down and go to sleep.
Don't let the idea of a schedule overwhelm you. It may seem like a lot of work, but you'll be rewarded with a happy, well-adjusted dog, and you may even come to enjoy the routine, too. This is a wonderful time for developing the bonding and love that will last a lifetime.