How Much Sleep Do Puppies Need?
8 min read
Last Modified 18 May 2021 First Added 30 April 2021
If you’re bringing a puppy home, you’ll probably be getting ready for a bundle of energy, keeping you on your toes for the next few months. However, new puppy owners are often surprised at how much puppies sleep. This can lead to questioning if their new family is ok. But, just like human babies, sleep is very important for your pup’s development, so you can expect them to sleep a lot during both day and night.
A puppy needs about 18 to 20 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. While there are slight variations on this by breed, most puppies will need this amount of sleep until they are about 6 months of age.
However, don’t think that this means you’ll not have to worry about getting up during the night! Puppies don’t sleep for the full 18 to 20 hours in one stretch. Instead, like babies, they need regular sleep and napping, and so adopt a polyphasic sleep pattern.
Puppies are still babies, and so, are still developing. Just like human children and other young animals, a puppy is constantly growing. Sleep is vital for healthy growth and s needed for the development of the central nervous system, brain, immune system, and muscles. This constant growth and development uses a lot of energy, and so your puppy needs to sleep to recharge.
Not only is it the physical growth and development that is tiring for your puppy, but also the mental development. Your puppy is constantly learning about the world and every day is a new experience. This constant learning is exhausting too, which means your puppy will need lots of sleep to recharge.
When a puppy will start sleeping through the night will depend on the individual puppy. Factors such as breed, routine, training, and personality will all affect when your pup will be able to sleep a whole night in one go.
If you bring your puppy home at a young age, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to make it through the whole night without needing the toilet. So, expect your nights’ sleep to be disturbed for the first few weeks at least. You may find our post on how to get back to sleep in the middle of the night useful for these times!
According to one study, by the time your puppy is 16 weeks old, their need for sleep reduces. At this point, they’re likely to only need, on average, 11.2 hours. However, they will still sleep more in the day and may still need to get up in the night. Once they have reached adulthood at about a year old (depending on the breed), a dog only needs to sleep for about 10.8 hours a day (though this number can be anything between 8 to 13.5 hours). However, by adulthood, your dog should be able to nap less during the day and sleep through the night (but they should be able to do this at a younger age).
For some puppies, they will start sleeping for 6 to 8 hours through the night as young as 3 months old, for others it may take them up to 6 months or more to get used to this routine.
But with a bit of training, and routine, your puppy will get into the rhythm of sleeping through the night.
For some pups, sleeping through the night, in a new home, will come easy. For others, they will need much more training and encouragement. They are young and learning, so getting them used to sleeping through the night can take time. Here are some tips for helping your puppy learn to settle and sleep through the night so that you can get some rest too:
It may be tempting to keep your puppy awake so that they’ll be tired at night. However, this is more likely to lead to overtiredness, and just like a toddler, this can be counter-productive when getting them to sleep at night. Trying to keep your pup awake and tiring them out will cause them to produce adrenaline, making it harder for them to settle down.
However, do not let them sleep for too long during the day. If they sleep for a long 6 or 8 hours during the day, they’ll be wanting to use up their energy during the night instead!
You need to ensure your new puppy has a set space set up for sleeping. This needs to be a safe, quiet space where they can get some rest. Use a crate (made comfy with a dog bed or blankets) or have a dog bed set up in a quiet room.
Make sure their bed or crate is inviting and placed in a quiet area. When your pup goes to bed or into the crate, give them a treat to encourage them. Make sure some toys are kept in your puppy’s sleeping space and that it is comfortable for them.
If you use a crate in a room that you are often in, you can use a blanket to cover it and block out the light when your puppy is sleeping. If you are in the same room, make sure the TV is turned down and the lights are dim. Quiet and dark will help your puppy know it’s time to sleep.
Keeping to a set routine will help your puppy to know when to sleep. This includes daytime napping, mealtimes, bedtime, and playtime. Make sure this fits in with your routine. It may mean some early weekend mornings for a few weeks or months but getting a pup to sleep through the night is probably the most important thing at this stage.
Young pups will probably want to sleep after playing and eating. Though they may find it hard to settle, it’s important that you get them to sleep so that they’re not overtired when it comes to bedtime. From the first day, you get your puppy home, have a set bedtime, and limit their food and drink intake a few hours before. Play with your puppy before bedtime to tire them out, let them out for their final toilet break, and then settle them. In the morning, get your puppy up, take them out to relieve themselves and give them breakfast.
It can be hard for a puppy, being taken away from mother and littermates to a new home, so they’ll want reassurance. However, they also need to learn to sleep on their own. So, when they’re sleeping, resist the urge to cuddle up with them. If they fall asleep in your lap, gently move them to where you want them to sleep, their bed or crate. Or if you notice that they’re getting drowsy, take them to their bed or crate, praise them (quietly) for going in and settling and leave them to sleep.
This will help them get used to the idea of being left alone throughout the night (and when you may not be around during the day).
When you first leave your puppy alone, whether during the day or for bedtime, expect some howling and whining. It’s important you don’t give in straight away and give them time to settle. Though if this goes on for some time and you are worried, you can go to them. Look at the next tip for how to do this without giving in fully.
Young puppies especially may find it hard to sleep through the night as they’ll need the toilet. With time they will be able to wait for the morning but to begin with, you need to be ready for these interruptions to your sleep. However, it’s important to allow your puppy to go to the toilet in a calm manner.
When your puppy wakes up needing the toilet during the night, don’t scold them, this is only natural. Instead, quietly take them to where their toilet is and let them do their business. Once done, quietly praise your puppy and take them straight back to their bed.
Be sure to do everything quietly, so that your puppy doesn’t get excited. Try to avoid eye contact and only talk with your puppy to praise them when they’ve been to the toilet. If your puppy doesn’t actually go and starts waking up too much, quietly take them back to their bed or crate.
Bringing a new puppy home is exciting and they’ll soon be part of the family. However, it’s important to remember that, just like babies, puppies need a lot of sleep for their development. Not only that but to begin with you need to expect some night-time disturbances.
With time, training and routine, your puppy will be sleeping through the night. This can happen quickly, or take a few months depending on your puppy. But don’t give up, be consistent and your puppy will get there.
How did you help your puppy to sleep through the night? Let us know in the comments below!