You may not realize it as you watch your sweet puppy sleep, but there’s a lot going on in that little body even when it’s so still. Inside, his brain is processing every new thing he encountered today and storing it away for later. His central nervous system and immune system are growing stronger. His muscles are developing. For all these reasons, it’s not uncommon for a puppy to sleep nearly 20 hours every day.
So, although it seems like your puppy is napping more than he should, don’t be concerned. It’s healthy for sleep to be your puppy’s main activity until he’s fully grown. Here’s why.
Why sleep is good for puppies
Sleep replenishes the tremendous amount of energy your puppy expends while he is awake and fuels future growth spurts. Consider this: Most dogs are fully grown by the time they are 2 years old, some by age 1. A body that grows so quickly needs lots of rest and recuperation to optimize healthy development.
And while you might be tempted to keep your puppy up during the day so he’ll sleep all night, experts caution against it. An exhausted puppy can be cranky. If he doesn’t get enough sleep, it can also adversely affect his immune system, putting him at risk of developing serious health conditions later in life.
One way you can help your puppy get good sleep is by creating the right environment for him to nap.
- Designate a place for your puppy to sleep. This might be a good time to start crate training. The right crate can serve as a private place for your pup to nap, as well as a secure spot for him to stay when you aren’t home.
- Let family members know not to wake Puppy when he is asleep. Although all that cuteness is hard to resist, think long term. The sleep he receives as a puppy will help him develop into a happy, healthy adult dog.
- Make sure he gets plenty of exercise. This means physical as well as mental stimulation. After activity, know that your puppy will typically sleep anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours.
How a sleep schedule can help
To help your puppy strike the right balance of sleep and awake time, consider creating a schedule that includes plenty of playtime, learning, and naptime during the day.
In the morning
Take him outside for a potty break as soon as he wakes up, then feed him breakfast. After another potty break, let him play for the next few hours before letting him nap.
In the afternoon
When he wakes from his morning nap, give him another potty break before you feed him lunch. Alternate periods of play, potty training, and naptime throughout the afternoon.
In the evening
After dinner, take a short walk and work on leash training or let him play with family members. Refrain from letting him eat or drink a few hours before bedtime. Before you tuck him in, take him out for one last potty break.
Puppies start sleeping through the night at about 16 weeks, so remember, their little bladders simply aren’t strong enough to go all night long before then. When nature calls in the middle of the night (and it will), calmly carry him outside and refrain from giving him too much affection or engaging him in play. Once he has finished, quietly put him back into bed. He will soon learn that nighttime is for sleeping.
When your puppy sleeps too much
Can your puppy sleep too much? Probably not. But if you notice he is sleeping more than 20 hours a day and seems lethargic while he’s awake, it’s time to visit your veterinarian. Too much sleeping might be an indication that your puppy isn’t well hydrated or has some other medical concern.
Carrie Snow, an American standup comedian known for writing the television series Rosanne, once said, “No day is so bad it can’t be fixed with a nap.” Puppies seem to know this innately. Sometimes they play so hard, it seems they fall asleep midstride — almost as if napping were part of their job. And in many respects, it is. With all of the health benefits a puppy gains from sleeping so much, it’s hard to fault them for participating in this activity. Creating a safe, inviting environment in which your puppy can sleep undisturbed is a big investment toward helping him grow into a happy, healthy adult dog.
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