The arrival of a puppy is incredibly exciting. The cuteness and joy that little bundle will bring isn’t lost on a tribe of dog lovers. But welcoming a puppy into the home is best done with preparation and knowledge. A new puppy will need to sleep. Read our blog on puppies and sleep to understand “how much sleep does my puppy need?”

Puppies and sleep 

In the early days of having a puppy, you will quickly come to understand that a puppy has two basic settings; very awake or very asleep! They use up a lot of their energy exploring the world and learning new commands. Even encountering new smells, people and routines will drain them of energy. Sleep is incredibly important to recoup their energy but also to allow your puppy’s mind to process all the experiences and material they have encountered. Sleep is crucial to your puppy’s physical and mental development. This is why it is so important to get your puppy’s healthy sleep habits and routine established early.

How much sleep does my puppy need?

These little bundles of energy will usually sleep 18-20 hours a day initially. So they are probably only going to be awake for 4-6 hours. This awake time will be in roughly one hour chunks. This amount of sleep is essential for healthy growth. You may have heard the saying “never wake a sleeping puppy.” There is sound evidence why this is important. In general, your puppy will sleep after some activity, and awake refreshed ready for more activity or play. A nap can last anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours. Sometimes your puppy will fall asleep mid-play! At night, you can expect them to sleep for six to ten hours (they may need a toilet visit) but by around 16 weeks, they should be sleeping through the night.

Tips for healthy daytime sleeping

  • When they’re asleep, don’t disturb them: as much as it’s tempting to cuddle them and let them fall asleep on your lap, you want them to be able to fall asleep independent of you.
  • Recognise when they need to sleep: don’t let them get overtired. This can lead to unwanted behaviour. Encourage them to sleep when they are tired.
  • Show them where to sleep: Encourage them to sleep in their safe quiet place (crate or bed).
  • Follow a routine/schedule: Try to plan that any activity can be followed by some sleep time. 

Tips for good nighttime sleeping

  • Make the crate comfortable: No need for plush beds initially as they may chew these. Also the addition of a toy or item that smells like mum and their litter will be a comfort to them.
  • Create the right environment: Keep noise and lighting to a minimum around and near the crate when it’s bedtime. 
  • Follow a bedtime routine and don’t give in! If you start a routine from day 1 they will learn what to expect and will quickly learn that night time is for sleeping. 
  • Be prepared!: Like human infants, a new puppy is unlikely to sleep through the night straightaway. Be prepared to have to take them for a toilet visit during the night. Facilitate this quickly, quietly and calmly; praise them when they goes but it’s straight back into the crate for sleeping after.

What is the relationship between sleep and development?

The relationship between sleep and development is crucial when it comes to young pups. Sleep is so incredibly important to your puppy’s physical and mental development. It can hamper their development and lead to both mental and behavioural problems if they are unable to get enough sleep. Ideally puppies should have a good structure of sleep times that fits in with the rest of the family’s requirements and lifestyle. Training your puppy to sleep through the night, and everything else they must learn, takes time, trial and error. As you get to know your puppy’s needs and natural rhythm, things will fall into place.

Learning to be alone

Many people have welcomed puppies during lockdown. It has been the perfect opportunity for many families who otherwise would have been at work everyday with no time to settle a new puppy in. At some point, most people will return to work and we’ll be able to go out and about again, and we won’t be at home all day with our dogs. So it’s a good idea for them to learn that it is okay to be on their own. Putting his crate or bed into a quiet room, shutting the door and leaving them to sleep alone is a good start. They will get their important sleep and they’ll also learn that it is okay to be alone. It’s better in the long run if they learn this early on and then it won’t come as a big shock when they’re older and need to be left.

Is my puppy sleeping too much?

In most cases, if you wonder “Is my puppy sleeping too much?” the answer will be no, based on all of the above. If however, your puppy sleeps beyond 20 hours a day and is lethargic, then you should contact your vet.

In a nutshell, a puppy needs a lot of sleep. And it is very important that they get sleep for development. They need to learn to sleep through the night and they need to learn to sleep independently. Establishing a routine makes all this much more manageable.

Other puppy related blogs that might be of interest are:

21 Top Tips for a New Puppy

Your new puppy's First week at home

Your puppy's first night at home

Bringing a new puppy home - the first day

What do I need for a new puppy?

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