How much sleep does your puppy need?

Cute dog of the day at Vancouver's premier dog walking company, Soggy Doggy

Something to remember about puppies is that they need sleep – lots of it, just like babies. Your puppy will need about 18-19 hours sleep in every 24 when you first bring them home So only expect 4 to 5 hours of being awake and only about an hour at a time. If they’re kept awake and playing, you could both be heading for a stressful time.

Just like excitable toddlers, puppies are learning, and just as a lack of sleep has a bad affect on a child’s behaviour, your puppy will be badly behaved if he doesn’t get enough sleep. If a puppy is overtired, he will not learn as well as he could. This will affect his ability to make correct choices – for example chasing excited children, jumping up and mouthing. Behaviour will only get worse in an over-tired puppy, which will then take time to unlearn. Taking a 14-week old puppy for lots of really long walks and keeping them awake all day to ‘tire them out’ is having the opposite effect, for the following reasons:

What happens if a young puppy (under around five months old) has too much play and exercise but not enough sleep? His body will produce adrenalin to cope with the demands and stresses, which means the dog can’t then settle down when at home. If adrenalin builds up over a number of days, the stress hormones take much longer to get rid of, and you end up with a frantic puppy biting anything that moves. Neither the puppy nor your family will be able to relax. You will often see this in the ‘wall of death’ around the house, usually later afternoon or evening. Puppy is really feeling the lack of sleep at this stage. The same can sometimes happen when you return from a walk – puppy gets the zoomies and you think they didn’t get enough exercise. This is usually a reaction to too much exercise – if you see it out on a walk, time how long puppy has been out, and make the next walk shorter. Everything with a puppy should be short and sweet, but frequent.