Whenever I am out for long periods of time I start to feel guilty about leaving Toby at home. When I voice these feelings to people they always so, ‘Don’t worry about it, all he is probably doing is sleeping.’ And they are right, every time I come home, Toby comes running down the hallway, half asleep to greet me. Whenever Andrew or I are not paying attention to Toby, he goes to sleep. When I stop playing with him, he will go to sleep. When he is waiting for us to finish showering, he will go to sleep. When he is waiting by the door for us to leave for the park, he will go to sleep.
So, why do dogs sleep so much? There are two reasons. Firstly, sleeping a lot is part of their genetic makeup and secondly, dogs don’t have anything better to do. On average your dog will sleep 14 hours a day. This depends on factors such as breed, age and lifestyle. Very small breeds or very large breeds tend to sleep more than those in between. Very small and large dogs can sleep up to 18 hours a day.
The kind of sleep dogs have is different to human sleep. Dogs have lots of short naps to reenergize and can fall into deep Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep in 15 minutes, whereas it takes humans over an hour to fall into. You would have seen your pooch in REM sleep when they act all possessed and shake, yelp and have their eyes open with their eyeballs rolling around in their head.
In the wild, dogs generally sleep all day and hunt during the night. Now that our dogs are domesticated, they have learnt to sleep at night with you as sleeping in the evening is not natural to them.
While dogs sleeping most of the day is normal, it isn’t normal if they are sleeping all day and don’t do anything else that stimulates them mentally and physically. If this sounds like your pooch it could be an indication that they have depression or a medical condition.
Dogs that are active all day generally sleep less than those that are left alone in the house or backyard. If your dog is left alone for long periods of time during the day it is vital that when you are home you spend time playing with them and walking them so they can be mentally and physically stimulated.