Eight Facts About Sleep Dogs Want You to Know


“Let sleeping dogs lie,” says the famous adage, and those are surely words of wisdom when dogs hit the pillow. As in all living creatures, sleeping is important in dogs, and while dogs don’t have tight work schedules as people do, they still benefit from getting all the sleep they can get. Along with quantity of sleep, the quality of sleep is also something that’s important. In a previous article we looked at different dog sleeping position meanings, today instead we’ll be taking a peek at fascinating facts about dog sleep that dogs would like you to know.

dog sleep 91) We Love to Sleep in Human Beds…

Roll Over Rover! According to a survey conducted by Novosbed, a company selling luxury memory foam mattresses, an astounding 71 percent of pet owners confessed sleeping with their pets, with 43 percent of them sleeping with them every night, 23 percent reporting only sleeping with them occasionally and 5 percent (drum roll please!) sneaking their pet in bed when their significant others were out of town.

Pets also seem to have their favorite resting spots, with 52 percent sleeping at the foot of the bed, 23 percent snuggling right next to their owners, 14 percent sleeping under the covers and 11 percent sharing a pillow. This news is really nothing new, a while back the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) had found that 60 percent of cats and dogs slept in the owner’s bed or in their bedroom.

2) And the Best Part is it’s Good for You Too!

Some people may frown upon people who share their beds with their pooches, but for those who do sleep with their furry friends, here’s a great incentive to keep doing that. According to a survey conducted by the Center for Sleep Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, pet owners who sleep with their dogs and cats may actually be getting better ZZZs. Despite what sleep experts have said for years, it was found that only 20 percent of owners found their pets to be disruptive; whereas, 41 percent felt that their pets were unobtrusive and even beneficial for their sleep. Perhaps it’s time for doctors dealing with sleep disorders to consider having more people share their sleep environment with a furry friend.

3) We Go Through REM Sleep Too…dog sleeping belly up

Just like people, dogs go through various different stages of sleep. The first stage of sleep mainly comprises low frequency electrical activity, and as such, it’s know as slow wave sleep. After a while, the dog then enters the rapid eye movement stage (REM), which, as the name implies, is characterized by rapid eye movements and much more than that.

During the REM stage (as dog owners can attest) dogs are often seen breathing faster, moving their legs, twitching their ears, chewing and even barking in their sleep! It all makes sense though when we think that the REM stage is when animals and people are dreaming. Have fun dreaming about eating that sandwich left unattended on the table and chasing rabbits Buster!

4) But Doggy REM can Sometimes get Out of Hand

In some dogs, movement carried out during REM sleep may be excessive and sometimes may even appear violent. There are reports of dogs exhibiting excessive running movements of the limbs, dogs attacking inanimate objects and some even propelling themselves across the floor. While these movements may appear similar to seizures, affected dogs can be awaken and show no coordination problems or confusion which is in contrast with what happens during a seizure, explains board-certified veterinarian Dr. Linda Shell. There’s a chance that dogs may be prone to developing a sleep disorder that has observed in people and that goes by the name of REM behavior disorder.

dog wetting bed while lying down5) As we Age We May Wet the Bed…

In humans, wetting the bed is associated with young children, but in dogs it’s mostly a matter of aging and it seems to affect mostly female spayed dogs. It’s called “Primary sphincter mechanism incompetence“(PSMI) also known as hormone-responsive urinary incontinence”or “estrogen-responsive incontinence” or more simply “spay incontinence. “A study,  found that about 1 out of 5 female dogs affected by this condition get it after they are spayed.

Here’s what basically happens. Strong sphincter muscles help keep good tone and prevent urine from escaping, but as spayed dogs age, these muscles tend to weaken causing leakage of urine when they’re resting or sleeping, explains veterinarian Dr. Marie. While senior spayed females dogs are mostly affected, this condition can also affect younger dogs (and occasionally males too). Fortunately, this type of incontinence can be  remedied with prescription veterinary drug known as phenylpropanolamine (yeah, try to pronounce that! )

6) And Get Disrupted Sleep Too.

Aging is sure no fun, and as dogs live longer lives, dog owners witness more and more problems related to old age such as arthritis, incontinence and canine cognitive dysfunction, the canine version of Alzheimer’s disease. Affected dogs show several signs along with disrupted sleep-wake cycles, which means that instead of resting peacefully, they’ll spend their nights pacing and vocalizing. A particularly distressing aspect of this whole ordeal is the fact that dog owners have a difficult time finding a way to comfort their dogs when they are affected by this condition, explains veterinary behaviorist Dr.  Karen Overall.  

7) Stress Affects Us as Well..dog lip licking

People are often tossing and turning at night when they are stressed by a multitude of problems, but stress can affect a dog’s sleep too. Sure, dogs don’t have to worry about balancing their checkbooks or filing for divorces, but they are sure prone to stress such as from loud noises, exposure to other animals and side effects of harsh, aversion-based training techniques (which should never be used! read ASVAB’S position statement) While some dogs are plain old lazy (think greyhounds and English bulldogs), consider that dogs who seem to sleep a whole lot may be stressed.

“Stressed dogs usually will not experience a satisfying sleep which is why they are always trying to sleep.”~James O’ Heare


dog sleeping8) So Please Let Us Sleeping Dogs Lie

So yes, dogs needs their daily amounts of beauty sleep too and if dogs are stressed, it’s paramount to work on reducing their stress levels. Dogs denied adequate levels of stress often pay the consequences under the form of behavioral problems and and impaired learning abilities, explains veterinarian Dr. H. Ellen Whiteley in the book “Understanding and Training Your Dog Or Puppy.”  Want a dog who likes to hit the snooze button? Perhaps try going with one of those giant dog breeds.

“Some very large breeds of dogs, like Newfoundlands, Saint Bernards, and mastiffs, often spend a great deal of their lives sleeping—perhaps up to sixteen or even eighteen hours a day. ” ~Stanley Coren

You may also like: How much do dogs sleep on average? and Do Dogs Sleep With Their Eyes Open? Dog Pawprint



  • Are Pets in the Bedroom a Problem?, Lois E. Krahn, MDcorrespondencePress enter key for correspondence information, M. Diane Tovar, RCP, Bernie Miller, RPSGT, RCP, CCSH Center for Sleep Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ
  • DVM360, Identifying and managing behavioral changes in older dogs and cats, retrieved from the web on September 2nd, 2016


How Much Do Dogs Sleep On Average?


Let’s face it, we might never find our dogs with bags under their eyes, but dogs, just like us, need their daily dose of beauty sleep. How many hours do dogs sleep on average? There’s ultimately no real standard time frame, as each dog is an individual. Puppies, adult dogs, older dogs and different breeds of dogs may have different levels of energy and they may have different needs when it comes to how many hours of sleep they get. However, we can make some average assumptions by adding up those shorter daily naps with those more lengthy night-time snoozes.

dog sleeping hoursBreed Matters For a Good Part…..

When it comes to how much dogs sleep, breed seems to matter. Some dog breeds are known for being couch potatoes that may rather snooze on the couch then go on a hike. Other dynamite dog breeds may perceive every second spent on the couch as wasted time. And then some others have quite flexible schedules, matching their lifestyles with the lifestyles of their owners. These pooches are likely to stay awake when their owners are awake and are ready to automatically snooze the moment their owners are reading a book or watching TV. Want a dog who likes to sleep? Look for some of the larger breeds of dogs.

“Some very large breeds of dogs, like Newfoundlands, Saint Bernards, and mastiffs, often spend a great deal of their lives sleeping—perhaps up to sixteen or even eighteen hours a day. ” ~Stanley Coren

puppy sleep
Awww… puppy sleep!

But Age Matters Too!

Puppies are generally very active pooches, but their batteries tend to discharge quickly. One minute they’re up and running, the next they are exhausted as they used up all their energy and need to re-charge. Sum all those little naps up and you’ll find that puppies are likely to sleep even up to 16-20 hours a day depending upon their age. We can’t blame them though, pups have a lot of growing and learning to do and they need to get all the rest they can get. Oh, and if you ever see your pup getting cranky at times, try to get him to nap; like children, dogs and puppies tend to get grumpy when they are tired too!

“Counting little naps and longer snoozes, most puppies sleep from 18 to 20 hours a day. As your puppy ages, he will sleep less” Dr. Debra Primovic

Older dogs are on the calmer side of the spectrum, however, some are prone to develop sleep disruptions as they age either due to weak bladders or the onset of the doggy version of Canine Alzheimer’s disease, which can dogs to pace, whine and feel confused at night. Fortunately, when caught early, this progression of cognitive decline can be slowed down with a script from the vet. Adolescent dogs and middle-aged ones are generally quite active and are more likely to look for something to do rather then snooze.

dog sleepingThe Average Dog

Whether you own a small dog, a large dog, a puppy or an old dog, one thing is for sure, dogs tend to sleep more than us. However, it’s also true that they tend to sleep lightly. Indeed, if you ever bothered to notice, they are likely to frequently awaken for the slightest noises. If your household is quite busy with kids running around and playing most of the day, most likely Rover has a hard time relaxing and catching some zzzs. Make sure he has a quiet spot to retreat to when needed. If your dog is kept outside in the yard nearby a busy street, he also may have a hard time sleeping.

Dogs living in quiet quarters may be more likely to sleep. Generally though, bored, lonely dogs tend to fall in two categories:  dog who fall asleep and patiently wait for their owners to come home, and creative dogs who craft their own entertainment venues by doing some landscaping in the yard, going on guard duty or remodeling the house chewing through carpets, drywall and upholstery. Regardless, it appears that the general consensus is that the average middle-aged dog tends to sleep between 12 and 16 hours a day in a 24-hour cycle. Most likely, 8 hours are spent sleeping at night when everybody is asleep, and then an extra 4 to 8 hours are spent snoozing during those down times at other times of the day. However as mentioned above, this is just a general guideline as they are too many variables!

What if My Dogs Sleeps Less or More?

Generally, if your dog is acting happy and healthy, sleeping a bit more or a bit less than the average sleeping time for a dog of his age and breed, shouldn’t be a concern. However, it’s best to see the vet if something doesn’t seem right and your dog is sleeping much more or much less than he usually does. For example, a dog who is sleeping a lot more than usual may be suffering from a health problem such as an infection, heart problem, diabetes or pain in the joints  as seen in elderly dogs, according to VCA Animal Hospitals.

On the other hand, sleeping less can be a sign of problems too. Your dog may be too hot or too cold, anxious, or he may have strong pain in the neck, back or abdomen which may require an emergency visit to the vet for pain relief. Other conditions that may cause restlessness include dogs taking stimulating medications, canine Alzheimer’s’, allergies that cause persistent licking or metabolic conditions such Cushing’s disease, explains Larry Lachman animal behavior consultant and author of “Dogs on the Couch.”

For further reading: Five Dog Sleeping Position Meanings.

Did you know? A study conducted on pointer dogs sleeping over a 24 hour period revealed that dogs spend about 44% of their time in an alert wakeful state, 21 percent in a drowsy state, 23 percent is spent in slow-wave sleep and 12 percent in REM sleep.


  • Baseline sleep-wake patterns in the pointer dog Edgar A. LucasErvin W. PowellO.D. Murphree, Departments of Anatomy and Psychiatry, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock 72201 USA,Veterans Administration Hospital, North Little Rock, AR USA, Received 17 August 1976, Available online 19 March 2003
  • What do Dogs Know? By Stanley Coren, retrieved from the web on April 16th, 2o16
  • VCA Animal Hospitals, Why-is-my-dog-more-tired-than-usual, retrieved from the web on April 16th, 2o16


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