How to help dogs sleep better, at home and on the road
While cats are notorious sleepers, dogs need slightly fewer hours of rest, though not by much. On average, dogs sleep 12 to 14 hours a day, and that goes up to 18 amongst notoriously “relaxed” breeds.
Great Danes, Bulldogs and Shih Tzus all like to get their forty winks, as do Greyhounds, surprisingly; the latter is a breed known for its electric speed – when it’s awake.
So whether you’re traveling away from home or wanting to give your dog the best night’s rest possible, follow our tips to help your animal sleep and feel better.
With luck, it’ll help you get an uninterrupted night’s rest too.
Make regular exercise a priority
Like people, dogs sleep better when they’ve had a workout, and a 30-minute daily walk is just the tonic. Take a ball or a stuffed toy with you for the journey and stop by the park to play a spot of fetch – this will add a layer of gamesmanship to the activity and will tire your dog out further.
If your dog is guilty of taking regular naps during the day and then running around like an energizer buddy when the sun goes down, up the exercise and initiate it just before bedtime. That way, your dog won’t be able to resist closing his eyes when you want him to.
Take familiar bedding with you when you go away
Dogs get anxious when they sleep in new surroundings, so any time the family is heading off on vacation, take a blanket or a pillow or a stuffed toy that smells like home and put it in your dog’s sleeping area.
On the flipside, if you’ve just bought new bedding and he doesn’t seem too keen on his sleeping area, the smell of the bedding might be the obstacle. Wash it and try again.
Ensure your dog has used the toilet before bedtime
Take your dog outside as night falls and encourage him to do his business. The more you repeat this process the more he’ll get into the habit of taking care of himself right before it’s time to go to sleep.
Put a bone near his bed
The good old bone is like catnip for dogs; it relaxes them and keeps them entertained at the same time. A dog that’s struggling to sleep will benefit from a bone near his sleeping area. He can chew on it and lull himself to sleep. Beware of toys that squeak or make a noise, as you might find he’s having a whale of a time first thing in the morning – just when you’re trying to sleep.
Set ground rules
Some dogs only get a proper night’s sleep if they’re sleeping with their owner. That’s great if you’re a fan of snuggles at bedtime. But if it’s a little too much, no problem. Start off by putting his sleeping area near your room and don’t bow to his demands to come inside. Make it clear that no amount of whining/barking is going to work. When he successfully takes to his bed, reward him with treats/toys/bones as appropriate.
Make bedtime the same time every day
Dogs love routine, so the more you can systematize the day, the better. Make bedtime consistent ditto for exercise, breakfast, and supper, and so forth. In the end, dogs that get a good night’s sleep are more content, more relaxed, and far happier, so this is an important consideration. With a little bit of practice, a routine should make itself apparent, and within no time, the whole house will be sleeping soundly!