Puppies are often bursting with energy and life, and with that unpredictability can come an erratic sleep schedule. In general, puppies need more sleep than fully grown dogs, especially because of the amount of brain development that occurs during sleep. As your pup ages, you should develop regular routines for his sleeping habits, as the structure will help you train him in other regards, as well.
Puppies' sleep patterns can vary wildly depending on the breed, size and level of activity. The younger the pup, the more unpredictable his sleep schedule is likely to be. A well-defined sleep schedule comes with both age and training. As a puppy, he's liable to take cat-like naps that are unpredictable in length and frequency. Don't be alarmed then if your puppy seems to fall asleep at the drop of a hat. When a puppy sleeps, his brain develops and matures, so allow him to go on snoozing.
A Sleeping Spot
Puppies can be reluctant to sleep when they need to, especially the curious ones. They may be eager to explore, or too enamored with all of the sights, sounds and smells of the world around them. That being the case, it's helpful to establish a quiet, somewhat secluded space where your puppy can go to sleep. A puppy who hasn't had a nap in a few hours and starts misbehaving may be cranky or irritable, and won't necessary fall asleep of his own accord -- putting him in a crate, for example, may help motivate him to settle down and take a break.
Hours and Activity
There are no hard and fast guidelines for how much sleep a puppy should get, but it's generally a little more than a full-grown dog. For example, an adult dog who sleeps 12 to 16 hours each day would probably sleep closer to 15 or 20 hours per day as a 12-week-old puppy. While breed, age and size are all influential factors, so is activity. Puppies have bursts of high energy and need stimulation, but they're also prone to overexcitement and reluctance to nap -- don't be surprised if he needs a cool-down period after a long walk.
Changing with Age
As your puppy gets older, his sleep habits will change -- and you should have a hand in it. Dogs need structure and routine in their lives, and a well-developed daily schedule makes your life and your dog's life much easier. For example, get your dog used to sleeping at night when you do, rather than snoozing throughout the day. Get him plenty of daily exercise and go for walks, preferably around the same time each day. Building a schedule enforces good training habits.
By Tom Ryan
About the Author
Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.