Although puppies are little bundles of energy, they usually sleep 18-20 hours a day. One minute your puppy may be a miniature tornado, and the next he’s fallen soundly asleep, almost mid-dash. Sleep is essential to healthy growth, contributing to the necessary development of his central nervous system, brain, immune system, and muscles. All of that sleep also helps him rest up during growth spurts.
When they’re awake, puppies burn a lot of energy – growing physically, experiencing new people and places, learning what they can and can’t do. Because the world is such an exciting, stimulating place, they won’t always pay attention to an internal clock telling them it’s time to rest. You can help by following a few simple guidelines for daytime naps and nightly bedtimes.
Tips for Helping Puppy Get Daytime Sleep
- Leave your puppy undisturbed. It is hard to resist cuddling him and letting him fall asleep in your lap, but you don’t want him to be dependent on you to fall asleep. Household members, including children, should learn to leave your puppy alone while he is sleeping. But be sure to keep an eye on him because when he wakes up, he’ll need to be taken outside.
- Show your puppy where to sleep. If he seems drowsy, encourage him to nap in his safe place: a crate, a dog bed, or a quiet place in the house where he can nap undisturbed. It may take time for him to get the idea, but eventually he’ll recognize that spot as the place for sleep.
- Follow a schedule. Plan his day so that active time is followed by quiet time for sleep. He’ll most likely be ready for a nap after playtime or a walk. Your puppy may nap every hour or so, sleeping from 30 minutes to as long as two hours. All of this sleep is perfectly normal.
- Recognize overtired behavior. No matter how much fun you’re having, don’t let him get overtired. Too much stimulation and exhaustion can lead to unfortunate behavior. Guide him to his crate or sleeping place and encourage him to wind down.
Tips for Helping Your Puppy Sleep at Night
- Make the crate inviting. Don’t buy an expensive dog bed for a new pup, because he’s likely to chew it up. Line the bottom of the crate with a soft, felted, inexpensive blanket or two. Beware of wool blankets or mats that can be chewed apart into long strings that cause choking. If you can, bring home a soft toy or baby blanket that smells like the pup’s mom and keep that in the crate. Many owners place the puppy’s crate in their bedroom, so he can feel that his family is close by.
- Establish a bedtime routine. By giving him a routine right from the start, you’ll teach him that nighttime is for sleeping, and you both will get a better night’s sleep. Restrict the pup’s intake of food and water for several hours before bedtime. Play with him, cuddle him, and take him outside to relieve himself.
- Keep his sleep area quiet and dim. If you watch TV in bed, keep the volume down and the light low. You may even want to use blackout shades if the room gets early morning light. The quiet and dark will be his cue that it’s time for sleep. If your crate is the wire type, you can put a cover over top of it to make it darker and more den-like.
- Don’t give in at bedtime. First make sure your puppy has had a chance to go to the bathroom and has plenty of physical and mental exercise during the day. Teach him to love getting into his crate by rewarding him with a treat. While he’s learning the routine, be prepared for some whining, barking, or howling before he settles in for the night.
- Be prepared for interruptions. Just like human babies, puppies sometimes are not yet ready to sleep through the night. Your puppy may need a potty break during the night. If he’s sleeping in a crate in your bedroom, you’ll be able to respond if he needs to go out. Calmly carry him outside, praise him quietly when he goes, and put him right back in the crate for sleeping.
Your Puppy’s Sleep Schedule
Puppies thrive on routine and structure. Along with a feeding routine and house training routine, a sleep schedule will help you and your puppy adjust to living together. This sample schedule should help you on your way to establishing a good routine, for canine and human family members.
Morning Puppy Schedule
- In the morning when the puppy wakes up, quickly take him outside to relieve himself..
- Feed him breakfast.
- Puppies usually need to relieve themselves after eating, so give him another potty break.
- Spend 30-60 minutes of playing with him, socializing, and taking a walk.
- Nap time. He may sleep from 30 minutes to two hours.
- Give him another potty break as soon as he wakes up.
- Feed him lunch.
Afternoon Puppy Schedule
- After lunch, give him a potty break.
- For up to one hour, play with him and allow him to explore.
- It’s nap time again.
- Take him outside for a bathroom break when he wakes up.
- And then it’s playtime again.
- Chances are pretty good he’ll settle in for a nap after he plays.
- Potty break.
Evening Puppy Schedule
- Feed your pup dinner before you sit down, or give him a stuffed Kong to work on in the crate while you eat.
- After dinner, take a walk.
- Let him spend time playing and interacting with family members.
- Give him a quick bathroom trip before bed, and then settling him down in his crate for nighttime sleep.
Don’t let the idea of a schedule overwhelm you. It may seem like a lot of work, but you’ll be rewarded with a happy, well-adjusted dog and you will come to enjoy the routine, too. This is a wonderful time for developing the bond and love that will last a lifetime.