For dogs, sleep is also important for physical
health, growth and emotional wellbeing.
pattern of around 12 to 14 hours, depending
on other factors. Senior pets may sleep over 18
hours in a 24-hour cycle.
In times of illness or pain your dog will sleep
longer hours. If he seems to be sleeping more,
it is worth taking him for a vet check-up. This
may be a natural change in his sleep habits
or it may be a sign of illness. Dogs who have
lost a human caregiver or animal companion
may also sleep more as they experience a
Your dog’s environment and daily programme
can also influence his sleep patterns. For
example, a small breed dog who lives with a
senior in a retirement home will naturally sleep
more than a working dog.
If your adolescent or adult dog seems restless
at night, he may be bored during the day. Try a
daily walk or get him involved in a dog sport so
that he can use up his energy. A very lethargic
dog could also benefit from additional exercise
in his daily routine.
Choosing the right bed
While some pet owners do allow their pets
to sleep in their beds, you should provide
your dog with a bed of his own and allow
him to decide when he wants to use it. Also
consider where your dog stays during the day
while you are at work and provide him with a
comfortable place to rest. Outside beds must be
placed in a shaded area, ideally on an enclosed
patio or inside a lapa where he can find shelter
from sun and rain.
Size, style and material
Consider your dog’s size when choosing
a bed. He should be able to stretch out
comfortably on the bed. Some smaller breeds
may enjoy snuggling up inside a covered bed,
but not all dogs like them.
Consider your breed’s disposition. Some
breeds, especially those from cooler climates
or longhaired breeds, may not like a bed
that is too snug – and pet owners end up
distressed to find their dogs stretched out on
cold tiles. In this instance, a stretcher type bed
- raised off the floor and providing airflow
from below – may be a good compromise.
Crates are also suitable beds for dogs of
any size and breed. Crate-training should
be considered early on and started during
puppyhood. Provide bedding for comfort
inside the crate.
Lifestyle also impacts on your choice of bed.
For example, if your dog enjoys playing out
in the garden (think mud and other yucky
stuff), a basic plastic bed with extra pillows
and blankets that can be easily washed may
be a better choice for him.
Dogs with joint problems, arthritis or even
more serious conditions like hip dysplasia
will benefit from an orthopaedic bed.
Orthopaedic beds are manufactured from
high-density memory foam which ensures
a soft and comfortable night’s rest, taking
pressure off painful joints. These beds may
mean a significant investment on your part,
but they do assist in helping your pet enjoy a
better night’s sleep. For large breeds, consider
this investment early on in your dog’s life as
the support foam is able to better take the
dog’s weight and can help to mitigate later
joint issues. When choosing a product, check
for loose covers that are washable.
Once a dog dozes off to sleep, researchers believe
that he is likely to dream. If you pay attention to
your dog, you will notice that his breathing slows
down. His heartrate and blood pressure drops. After
10 or 20 minutes, he will begin rapid eye movement
(REM) sleep – and it is in this sleep phase where
humans and other mammals dream. You may notice
that your dog’s legs or ears twitch, or even notice the
movement of ‘running’ legs. Researchers believe that
these are consistent with the movements the dog likely
‘experiences’ in the dream.
A stretcher bed is ideal for dogs
who stay outside most of the day.