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Your Questions about Your Dog’s Sleep Needs—Answered

by Coach Lilly

Well rested pups make the best athletes. 

Winter’s cold mornings can find many of us wishing we could just hibernate in our warm, cozy beds until warm weather returns. Dogs don’t hibernate through the winter, but it sometimes seems like they sleep a lot, doesn’t it? Have you ever wondered about your dog’s sleep needs? Read on to find answers to some of the most common questions about dogs and their sleep habits.


How much sleep does a dog need?

While the exact amount that your dog sleeps depends on a number of factors such as breed, size, age, and activity level, most adult dogs average 12 to 14 hours of sleep per day. Puppies (like human babies) need even more than that—up to 20 hours a day!


Why does my dog sleep so much?

Even though dogs sleep a lot, they don’t normally sleep those hours all at once. Dogs tend to nap a lot. Napping helps them recharge and regain the energy that they spend when they are active. According to the National Sleep Foundation, while humans get better sleep when they stick to a regular schedule, dogs are more flexible—they are awake and alert when something is going on, and sleep when they are bored. This might explain why your pet can be sleeping soundly and then suddenly be up and running to the door as soon as they hear it open.


What kind of bed is best for my dog?

Make sure your dog’s sleeping environment is comfortable and stays at a good temperature. Some dogs aren’t very demanding when it comes to where they sleep, and other can be extremely picky. Dogs sometimes walk in circles and scratch at their bed to make it more comfortable for them as they prepare to sleep. When you get to know your dog’s sleep habits, you’ll learn by observation and experimentation what sleep environment is best for your own dog. If you decide your dog will sleep best with his own bed, you can shop for dog beds at


Is it OK if my dog sleeps on my bed?

As long as everyone in the bed, human and dog, is comfortable, then go for it! There’s no problem with letting your dog sleep on your bed as long as your dog is well-trained and you don’t have allergies. Sleeping with your dog can also bring you comfort and relieve stress, and your dog will love to be near you too.


Why does my dog curl up or stretch out to sleep?

This behavior may be explained by your pet’s wild dog ancestors, who curled up to sleep both to conserve body heat and to protect themselves from predators. If your dog sleeps on her back with her legs up in the air, on the other hand, she may not need to conserve heat because she is hot. She may also be feeling very relaxed.


What should I do if my dog’s sleep patterns change?

If your dog’s sleep patterns change dramatically, you may want to investigate what might have caused the change. If you have any concerns about your dog’s health or well-being, you should consult a veterinarian.


Do you have any other questions about your dog’s sleep needs? Ask us in the comments!


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