Study shows puppies sleep less at night than older dogs

A Dogs Trust study reveals that puppies sleep for less time at night than older dogs and both age groups choose to be close to people, when given the option.

The charity’s ground-breaking Generation Pup study, which follows the lives and behaviours of dogs as they grow up, investigated how their sleeping habits change in their first year at 16 weeks compared to 12 months.

The findings reveal that while puppies aged 16 weeks, sleep significantly longer than older dogs during the day, they sleep for less time than older dogs at night. By comparison, once a dog reaches one year of age, they are much more likely to sleep for longer at night – matching their owner’s sleep patterns.

The study also revealed some interesting revelations about dog’ sleeping habits. Given the choice to get close to their humans at bedtime, most dogs opted to do so.

Similarly, as dogs get older, owners may be more likely to let their canine companion sleep in the same room as them. The percentage of people who let their pooch sleep in their bed more than doubled within the first year, from 13% at 16 weeks, to 27% at 12 months.

Dogs Trust also reveal the top five most common habits that dogs have whilst sleeping during the night, according to their owners:

  • 73% said their dog shows small twitching movements in their legs, 30% of people said it looked like their dog was chasing something in their sleep.
  • 38% said they thought their pooch spent a lot of time dreaming.
  • 13% said their dog would often snore ‘very loudly’ during the night.
  • 9% said their dog is known to wake up during the night and have disturbed sleep.

Rachel Casey, Director of Canine Behaviour and Research at Dogs Trust, said: “These findings provide a fascinating insight into what the nation’s puppies get up to when the curtains close at night and it’s time to go to bed.

“We know how testing it can be for new dog owners to settle their four-legged friends, especially in the first four months of a puppy’s life, and that’s why we are sharing our top tips for a good night’s sleep.

“Whether it’s making sure your pooch has had the right amount of exercise during the day, has a comfy and safe place to settle down or even just teaching ourselves to recognise signs of tiredness in a dog, these tips could help our pooches to drift off peacefully at night.”

With more people having welcomed a pup into their life during lockdown, Dogs Trust is providing owners and potential owners with top tips to help settle your dog at night to ensure everyone gets a peaceful night’s rest.

Top Tips:

  • Include walkies, playtimes and short, fun training sessions within your puppy’s daily routine so they’ve enjoyed using their brains and bodies and have plenty to dream about.
  • Create the cosiest, comfiest den for your puppy somewhere away from the busier areas of the home so they have somewhere lovely to relax undisturbed.
  • Evening routines can help prepare your puppy for a good night’s sleep, and if you tend to do the same types of activities your puppy will learn what to expect.
  • Help your puppy out by reducing anything that is catching their attention, so closing the curtains and settling down yourself can help them switch off.
  • When pups are growing tired, they might suddenly appear to be very energetic and dash about the home, an activity that is often called the ‘Zoomies’. They can also become agitated or restless and might even start to bark or mouth owners by grabbing their owner’s hands or clothing with their teeth. It can be helpful to know this because often owners think their sudden burst of energy means they need more exercise when they really need forty winks.
  • Puppies are born into, and generally sleep, in family groups so they need to learn to enjoy being in a cosy bed all by themselves. This can take a little time, but you can help them by staying close by and ready to respond if they appear distressed.

Dogs Trust is calling on people across the UK and Ireland with a puppy under 16 weeks of age to sign up to the Generation Pup study, to help the charity learn more about our four-legged friends.

By taking part you could help the charity gain valuable insights into how our dogs’ health and behaviour change over time, to find new and better ways to care for our dogs.

For more information and to sign up visit https://generationpup.ac.uk/