Dogs need twice as much sleep as we do, which is 14-16 hours a day, but they sleep 4-6 hours at a time. Sleep periods are interlaced in adult quadrupeds for approximately two hours of activity. Therefore, young dogs who have not yet become accustomed to the fact that their owners sleep through the night, as well as older ones with sleep disorders often wake up in the middle of the night or early in the morning. Puppies and young dogs sleep especially hard and hard. Also because every day they learn lots of new things and their brain needs time to learn them well.
Safer in the group
In nature, dogs never sleep alone. Because, although they are predators, they have many dangerous, especially for puppies, enemies. Such as birds of prey: eagles or owls, other canines and snakes. That is why lonely dogs sleep nervously and do not rest as well as those in close contact with other members of their social group. They even react to quiet sounds in the surroundings that disturb and awaken them. The dogs sleep in a group because evolution has adapted them – the British veterinarian and behaviorist Amber Batson points out.
It uses the latest achievements of scientists in its work and communicates the conclusions drawn from them to trainers and dog owners. Particular attention is paid to meeting the innate needs of quadrupeds so that they feel good in our homes.
The perfect dog’s sleep companion is a second dog. However, if we have only one, he should be close to us when he is resting. This does not mean that he has to sleep in the owner’s bed. It is enough for him to be in the same room so that he can see and hear him. Unfortunately, many owners are reluctant to see the dog in the bedroom, also some trainers recommend isolating him at night, which is supposed to have a positive effect on obedience.
Dogs sleep well only when they feel safe.
This means both physical security, meaning that you will not be disturbed by your cat, child or owner during sleep, but also emotional security, i.e. rest from worries related to what is happening around you – says Amber Batson.
Therefore, remember to never bother a sleeping dog. What’s more, let’s place his lair away from the passageways in our apartment.
Dogs sleep flat on their side, because yes … more comfortable
To enter REM sleep, the dog must stretch the body flat on the floor. It may be hindered by an inappropriate lair or too low room temperature. Because the owners strive to keep the bed area as small as possible, they are happy to buy their pets round or oval plastic or wicker beds. Unfortunately, dogs are unable to lie on their side and thus experience the REM phase. The same problem applies to cages: even if dogs like to be in them and the door is open all the time, most are too tight for the animal to stretch the full length of the body.
Some dogs sleep lying on their stomachs and using a wall or some piece of furniture to support their bodies. This is how they learn to achieve REM, says Amber Batson.
But the reason why they don’t want to lie on their side is usually different. It may be neck pain, insecurity or too low ambient temperature. The latter does not often apply to Labradors, because they have an undercoat and a protective layer of fat under the skin, but greyhounds, yorkshire terriers or hairless dogs need extra protection to lie on their sides and sleep well. If they are sleeping curled up all the time, the REM phase will not pass.
In general, dogs like warmth and usually need at least the same ambient temperature as us to feel comfortable. Leonbergers, Bernardines, Newfoundland and Bernese have the opposite problem – their fur is so thick that they are too hot in our homes.
We can throw away the quilt at night when we are too warm, while the dog has no way to cool down – says Amber Batson.
Many owners say that the floor in the kitchen is their favorite place to sleep. This is because hardly anyone has tiles in the bedroom. If this were the case, a dog belonging to one of these breeds would certainly choose to rest by the owner’s bed.
Dogs sleep on a platform, because yes … better
Dogs like to spend time in places higher than the rest of the area, such as hills, and at home stairs, sofas or window sills. And it has nothing to do with domination or comfort. It is only a matter of vigilant monitoring of the environment. The ancestors of the dogs were arboreal animals and to this day we meet breeds that retained the ability to climb trees.
In the adoption centers, a lot of research was carried out in that dogs were offered a choice of bedding on the floor and on the platform. It turned out that most prefer to sleep on the latter, even if it is only 30 cm tall, says Amber Batson.
In pet stores, you can buy leg beds or dog platforms, although they are usually small in size. Sellers recommend them for dogs suffering from drafts, such as having problems with joints, but they will be useful to any animal.
Owners often complain that their pupil goes on the sofa or bed. It is enough, however, that they provide him with a lair on a platform near his resting place, and the animal will stop climbing on the furniture – assures Batson.
Lack of sleep means problems
If an adult dog sleeps 8-9 hours on weekdays when we are at work, after our return he has the right to be tired after two hours of activity. It is even worse on weekends, when the rhythm of the day is disturbed, because we clean, work in the garden, and welcome guests in the evening. In such conditions, it may be difficult for some dogs to find two, three-hour breaks for sleep they need. A larger dose of sleep is also needed by animals experiencing such changes in life as adoption, departure or moving. It can take up to several weeks to heal stress. Also new or stressful experiences, such as visiting a veterinarian, in a park or during training, put a heavy load on the dog that he should then rest for two or three days.
The inability to sleep can cause a drop in the quadruped’s mood, increased arousal (barking, jumping at guests, stealing items), and even aggression. Dogs are animals in which the reduction of vitality is often manifested by hyperactivity. This does not mean that the quadruped needs an exhausting walk at this moment.
Therefore, it is worth interlacing moments of activity with activities that will allow the mentee to rest undisturbed. For example, you can watch a movie or read a book with a dog at your side or sit together at the computer. This activity planning is especially important for puppies. Due to the fact that in their breaks between sleep should not be longer than an hour. In turn, a tired puppy becomes difficult to bear – he bites, which gets in his teeth, and painfully bites people’s hands and feet. Ensuring that he sleeps regularly will ensure his harmonious development and save his hair gray owners.
Why does the dog sleep?
Dogs, like humans, experience two types of sleep and both need them to regenerate. Sleep is also important for the proper conduct of the processes of remembering and, consequently, learning. The first type of sleep is called slow wave sleep, and the second is REM sleep, from the English name Rapid Eye Movement („fast eye movements”).
About 80 percent sleep in both us and dogs falls on slow wave sleep ensuring rest primarily for the brain. His activity decreases considerably then, his temperature also decreases. Dogs cannot sleep standing up (for example ungulates), but to experience slow wave sleep, all you need to do is lie on your stomach or curled up.
Things are different with REM sleep. Then the brain works intensively, but the body is paralyzed from the neck down, because it relaxes the muscles responsible for supporting the skeleton. Each of us has certainly fallen asleep on the train and feel the head drop. We wake up violently with fear of falling feelings. This is the effect of muscle relaxation. Therefore, the REM phase is called body sleep and for it to occur, the dog must lie on its side.
When the body rests, various things happen in the head. In the REM phase, both people and dogs experience dreams, and the brain works more intensively than when awake. Therefore, if we woke up in REM and we remember the dream, it seems to us that it lasted a very long time, even if we took a nap for a while. Dreaming dogs squeak and bark, their eyelids, lips and noses vibrate, and the small muscles of paws and tail. One can get the impression that they dream of crazy races with their kin. It can also be seen that quadrupeds, whose life is calm and monotonous, dream more peacefully. However, a visit to a dog park or a veterinarian is enough for intensely experienced dreams to appear.
Thanks to the scientists, we already know that although during slow-wave sleep the general activity of the brain disappears, the flow of electrical impulses between the cortex and the hippocampus increases. It probably involves the consolidation of memories of events that occurred immediately before bedtime, and the creation of connections between them and memories already existing in the brain.
In contrast, the REM phase is associated with motor memory. That is, learning motor skills, such as movement patterns, ways of overcoming obstacles and solving tasks related to time, place and space. Thanks to motor memory, the body automates certain behaviors. Which, in turn, means that they do not require attention later when performing them, and also more difficult to forget. A great example of a skill related to motor memory is the dog’s slalom defeat. Thus, dogs sleep because they have to, and sleep is not a luxury for an animal, but it is necessary for life.
Excerpts from the lecture were used. Vet. Amber Batson delivered at the PDTE conference in Bilbao in 2010.