WE PLANT THE "SEEDS OF IDEAS" IN DOG OWNERS MINDS - THESE IDEAS EVENTUALLY BLOSSOM INTO A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF DOG BEHAVIOUR - Sally Hopkins
WE PLANT THE "SEEDS OF IDEAS" IN DOG OWNERS MINDS - THESE IDEAS EVENTUALLY BLOSSOM INTO A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF DOG BEHAVIOUR - Sally Hopkins

SLEEP

Research has found that, given the opportunity, dogs sleep between 10 - 13 hours a day, while some breeds will happily sleep for up to 16 hours. This sleep is Nature's way of keeping dogs in optimum health.

However, in the modern world many pet dogs only get the opportunity to properly relax and sleep deeply when their family has gone to bed. This is due to our active fast-moving lifestyle, when we expect pet dogs to live with us in relatively small houses with limited access to free running or quiet places to sleep.

We also need to understand that deep, undisturbed sleep is the most natural and healthiest way to reduce the long-term stress levels in the dog's "glass".

"WEARING THE DOG OUT" DOES NOT WORK!
Some dog handlers think that if they tire their dogs out physically their dogs will sleep better and for longer - this is far from the case!

What actually happens is that the dog's adrenaline levels continue to rise even when the dog is resting, and these levels will continue to be high the next day when the dog is woken for the start of another busy day. These high adrenaline levels effect the dog's senses, making it very reactive and nervous of the slightest sound, movement or scent, even when it seemed to be resting or sleeping. Therefore, it is extremely difficult for these over-tired dogs to sleep properly, particularly if there is a lot of environmental and/or lifestyle stress that it has to cope with as well. These dogs dog-nap, even when they are in their Rest Area or Relaxing Room, suddenly waking up when there is any change in its surroundings rather than slipping into a deep and healthy sleep.

SO HOW DO YOU GET A DOG TO SLEEP MORE?
The answer lies in changes in its daily routine, while managing its environment, so that you can provide it with plenty of rest periods to allow stress levels to fall (see Stress Solutions for definitive lists). Here are the main areas to look at closely-
  • Provide your dog with a quiet and comfortable Rest Area
     
  • Do not over exercise your dog, particularly just before it is supposed to settle down and have a sleep, for example -
    a) when you leave the house
    b) before it settles down with you in the Relaxing Room
    c) after it has been fed - dogs need to settle down and let their digestive juices work efficiently
    d) late at night
     
  • Take it for quiet gentle walks where it can "Read the Newspaper" and mentally unwind
     
  • Exercise your dog's mind and senses, rather than its muscles!
     
  • Set up a fairly regular routine so that your dog can recognise the triggers when you are "uninteresting" and it can go to sleep, happy in the knowledge that it is not required for "guard duty", attracting your attention, chasing toys etc. These times may be -

    e) when you are talking to people, including telephone conversations
    f) human meal times
    g) preparing and taking the children to school
    h) going to work
    i) you are preoccupied (eg. Watching television, reading a book, busy with a hobby, on the computer)

BODY CLOCK
Dogs relax and sleep more when they have some sort of order and routine in their lives, while still enjoying the variety of different walks and "adventures" that you provide to enrich their lives. Soon your dog will begin to have its own body clock, because it has become used to resting at certain times of the day, while being mentally and physically active at other times. This is a normal healthy sign for a dog recovering from long-term stress.

An example of a very obvious body clock is dogs who have owners that go out to work for part of the day - they are used to sleeping deeply in these periods.

Be aware that it is not a good idea to train or teach your dog when its body clock is telling its brain that it is time to relax and sleep - the dog's brain will not be in "active" mode. Therefore, avoid going to training classes or trying to teach your dog new behaviours when the dog is used to sleeping at that particular time of day.

 

This web site has been written by Sally Hopkins (unless the author of the web page is stated otherwise).

 

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