Healthy sleep for dogs: all you need to know
Dogs are important members of the home. A healthy night’s sleep is important for them, just as it is important for you. Here are some tips for ensuring your dog gets a good night's rest every night.
Establish a routine with puppies the first night
Before you bring your puppy home, it is best to think about where they will sleep and have it all arranged. If you establish a routine from day one, then they will quickly adapt. Puppies need structure because everything is new to them and learning can be hard.
Customizing a sleep area
Some dogs prefer softer and more heavily padded beds than others. Finding out what your dog likes best can be quite easy. If you throw a fleece blanket down on the floor and your dog starts making a nest, then you should consider a padded bed for them. If they forgo the blanket, then they might be the type of dog that prefers the floor. This is most common in larger dogs that like to be outdoors or have been bred as herders or livestock guardian dogs.
Never force a dog to sleep on a bed
Showing a dog a new bed or placing them on it a few times is fine; however, trying to force them to sleep somewhere or on something that they are not comfortable with will make sure that they do not get the rest they need to be happy and healthy canine companions.
Sudden changes can affect sleep
If a dog gets used to sleeping in one area but is forced to move to another, their sleep can be affected. Sometimes these changes are necessary. For example, you might move to a new residence, have a new baby in the home, or remodel your home. Being patient and caring towards your dog during this time is much more effective than losing your patience. If they have a favorite bed, then move it to the new sleeping area. Some dogs will simply take the moving of their bed as a signal that their space has moved and just adjust on their own. Those that don't might need to be led to their new sleeping area, petted, and given a treat. If your dog knows the command “stay”, sometimes using this command can lead to quick success in getting them used to a new sleeping arrangement.
If a dog doesn't get the amount of exercise they need, they will be restless and not sleep well. Heavy exercise should occur no closer than an hour before bedtime. This does not mean you can't play at all with your dog. Just don't do a mile walk right before bed. The amount of exercise your dog needs depends largely upon their breed and age. Puppies are going to require more exercise than adult dogs no matter what the breed. Active breeds such as Labrador Retrievers, Beagles, and herding dogs will need more exercise than Basset Hounds, Chows, and Shar Peis. If you are unsure how much exercise is enough for your dog, ask your veterinarian. With more people living in urban centers, many cities now have parks just for walking and socializing your dog. Many urban trails also allow dogs as long as you clean up after them.
As your dog grows older, their requirements for a good night’s sleep can change. Older dogs may require more supportive orthopedic pet beds due to arthritis or joint issues, which can cause pain and discomfort that will keep them up at night. If you take your dog to the vet regularly, they will be able to assess and suggest care for your dog as they age. Also pay attention to your dog's body language. A stiff appearance or arched back can signal that they are experiencing joint pain.
A good night’s sleep year round
In some climates, dogs may need several bed types throughout the year for maximum comfort. Beds that are made of a light pad can be good for dogs when they need to stay cool. These types of beds are sometimes called crate beds. In the wintertime, a warmer and heavier bed may be necessary, especially for small dogs and those with short or smooth coats. Remembering to regularly wash their beds can also ensure that their sleep space is comfortable and insect-free. You may have to wash the beds more frequently at certain times of the year. This will vary based upon local factors.