Do puppies need a lot of sleep?
October 05, 2023

Do puppies need a lot of sleep?

In short, yes! Puppies need a great deal of sleep especially when they are young and go through rapid growth and development during those early months. Sleep is essential for their physical and mental wellbeing.

So let’s look at how much sleep puppies need, why they need it and how we ensure the puppies we work with at our events get the necessary amount of sleep.

How much sleep does a puppy need?

Most dog experts suggest that puppies need a whopping 18-22 hours of sleep a day (we’re not jealous at all!) from as soon as they are born up until 5 months of age. They should only be awake for 2-6 hours; starting at 2 hours as newborns and gradually increasing to 4-6 hours from around the 8-week mark. By 6 months, puppies start to sleep about as much as they do as adults, averaging around 10-14 hours. It’s worth noting, that just like humans, individual puppies and sleeping patterns can differ; this can also depend on other factors such as the size of the dog, how much exercise they get and the breed itself.

By 8 weeks, they typically engage in a cycle of sleeping, eating and toileting whilst learning to play and interact with littermates, mum and breeder. As they explore the world and absorb a lot of new information, they need plenty of sleep to recharge for their ongoing adventures.

New owners, don’t be fooled, this doesn’t mean they are automatically going to be sleeping through the night. As they are in a new environment and without littermates and mum, they may be slightly unsettled in the first few weeks, especially at night. However, with a good routine, effective training and patience they will begin to settle and sleep throughout the night, though it’s common for them to wake up needing the toilet.

Do puppies need a lot of sleep?

Why do puppies need so much sleep?

Just like humans, puppies without sleep can display signs of grogginess and restlessness, some young puppies can be prone to nipping and barking. With enough sleep, they are happier and more focused.

Puppies also do a lot of growing in their sleep. Ever had a puppy twitch whilst sleeping on you? That could well be their muscles twitching and growing in their sleep (It could also be a dream, both are just as cute as each other!).

The primary factors behind puppies needing so much sleep are brain development, energy conservation and immune system development.

Brain Development

  • Puppies need plenty of sleep to help process the large quantity of new information every single day, their brain is constantly learning and developing.
  • Sleep is essential to healthy growth, contributing to the development of the central nervous system, brain, immune system and muscles.
  • The brain clears itself of toxins when puppies are asleep which helps cognitive stability.

Energy Conservation

  • They burn plenty of energy whilst awake, and need plenty of sleep to help recoup as sleep provides energy to both the brain and body.

  • When puppies are learning throughout the day it can cause spikes of adrenaline and the stress hormone cortisol. To reduce these levels, they need to rest, settle and sleep.

Immune System Development

  • Sleep contributes to a healthy immune system which helps defend the body against infection whilst protecting its own cells
  • If a puppy’s immune system is weakened due to lack of sleep, they are more prone to picking up nasty diseases.

Lack of sleep in dogs can result in unwanted behaviours including irritability, aggression and in some cases cause them to be destructive. If a puppy has too much play time and not enough sleep, this can result in high levels of adrenaline and may struggle to settle; just like humans, puppies can become overtired!

Sleep also reduces the levels of the anti-inflammatory stress hormone cortisol. Dogs that have elevated levels of this hormone are at further risk of getting kidney damage or diabetes which can be life-threatening.

How do we ensure puppies at our events get enough sleep?

It’s a great question to ask and one we continue to assess when it comes to sleep within sessions. We collaborate with experts, dog trainers, experienced breeders and vets regularly. Combining these efforts with our knowledgeable team (which also possesses a variety of animal-related qualifications) makes us well-prepared and informed about the importance of sleep in puppies, and how to implement this knowledge in our therapy sessions.

Our events run the way they do, to ensure the litter of puppies' safety and wellbeing as well as their development. During their time with us, they are exposed to a variety of new experiences in a safe and controlled environment as a part of our socialisation programme.

During our puppy therapy events, we focus on routine to allow the puppies to familiarise themselves with the day's structure and when/where to sleep. This includes standardised running times, set times for lunch and the same setup at each event.

During Sessions

There is a separate pen within our setup so if the puppies become distracted, experience FOMO (fear of missing out) or it’s their turn for a power nap, they can retreat back there for an undisturbed snooze. Our knowledgeable staff will recognise when sleep is required, showing signs of irritability, and lack of interest in what they are doing for example. Just like toddlers, irritability is also a great sign that a pup is telling you “It’s time for bed”.

The sessions are ultimately designed around the litter’s needs, including sleep. Over the years we have carefully developed our programme and sessions that promote and encourage sleep in the correct way. Puppies can sleep whilst attendees are in the sessions without worrying they are missing out and with years of experience, we can safely confirm that pups like to sleep anywhere! Attendees are given a health and safety briefing before entering the event space, and will be told how to safely interact with a puppy; this includes advice on how to act if a puppy falls asleep on them.

Specially adapted puppy vehicle

Our puppy vehicles are specially designed with sleep in mind with temperature controls, calming blue lights to help settle them, plus the option for relaxing music or white noise; imitating the sound of being in their Mum’s womb. Continued fresh air flow and the comfort of human presence in the back, soft plush toys and blankets from home add the extra element of comfort. In fact most of the litters we work with will sleep for the entirety of the journey; there and back!

Socialisation programme

As part of our updated socialisation programme, we have implemented new and exciting stimuli for the puppies to play with during their time awake and active. To encourage mental stimulation we have introduced snuffle mats to our setup, enticing the puppies to seek out their food during sessions. Puppies that are mentally satisfied through sniffing enrichment are more likely to experience deeper and more restorative sleep and quality sleep is proven to be essential for a puppy's growth and development.

We work closely with our breeder partners and are in constant communication with them in order to understand puppies' normal sleeping patterns and learn exactly what helps them sleep. By doing so we can then implement these tips and tricks in our setup whilst working with them. Just like humans, we all have our sleep routines, and being at a Paws in Work event ultimately shouldn’t change this.

Check out more of our puppy welfare blogs today or book your own puppy therapy session!

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