Updated - Jan 22nd, 2022
You’ve finally brought your new puppy home and you can’t wait to cuddle your new love bug and spend loads of time together. But, surprise! This little bundle of joy sleeps a lot. Is this normal?
Most new puppy parents wonder just how much their puppy should be sleeping. How much is too much? And how much is too little? Let’s take a look at a typical puppy sleep schedule and the benefits of catching those extra Z’s.
Why do puppies need so much sleep?
Puppies require more sleep than an average adult dog. Their little bodies have a lot of growing to do in a short amount of time! Here are a few things that occur while your puppy is getting their rest.
Brain development: Sleep is when your puppy’s brain can process all the new information it received while they were awake. It’s also when the brain cleans itself of all toxins accumulated during awake times. Brain waste clearance, or the removal of toxins, helps develop cognitive stability. You’ll notice your puppy will focus better and have a happier disposition when they get their sleep versus when they don’t.
Energy conservation: All that unflappable energy has to come from somewhere! And it’s all thanks to your puppy’s naptime. Energy is used to build bones, strengthen muscles, and mature systems in the body. All this growth happens inside your little one’s body during sleep.
Immune system development: The immune system develops over time. Puppies aren’t born with fully developed immune systems, so they need the energy conservation sleep provides to build it up, keeping them safe from illnesses.
So in short, sleep allows your puppy’s brain, body, and immune system to regenerate and develop. It takes a lot of sleep to grow into that handsome grown tail-wagger you envisioned.
But just how much sleep is okay? Is there such thing as too much sleep? Let’s look at that now.
How much do puppies sleep?
Newborn puppies come into their world totally dependent on their mothers. They’re basically blind, deaf, and have very little control over their muscle movement. They spend about 90% of their time sleeping and the other 10% nursing, amounting to about 22 hours per day of sleep. Lucky pups!
As they grow, puppies sleep less and explore their world more. Your dog’s breed, age, diet, and activity level will also play roles in their sleep needs, but here’s a typical overview:
8 weeks – A puppy will sleep about 20 hours per day.
10-12 weeks – A puppy will sleep about 18-20 hours per day.
14-16 weeks – A puppy will sleep about 18 hours per day.
16-18 weeks – This is a critical time in your pup’s development. It’s a critical time for them to learn their feeding schedule, socialization, and basic training to name a few. To get their new routines and behaviors to stick, they require a lot of sleep.
Older dogs and puppies will settle into 12-14 hours of sleep per day. Here’s a helpful dog age chart, if you’re curious where your dog lands.
Puppies spread their naps out throughout the day and night into 30-minute to two-hour naps. Very young pups will nap at a higher frequency, often every hour. As they grow, frequency of nap time will dwindle.
Dogs are polyphasic sleepers, which means they nap or sleep for short periods throughout the day and night. As dogs age, they become diurnal sleepers, which means they sleep for longer periods during the darker parts of the day, with naps and activity happening during daylight hours.
Humans are monophasic sleepers, meaning we sleep during the night, and night alone.
Large dog breeds will tire quickly because they grow much faster than small dog breeds and require more sleep to build those bones and muscles properly. They also require dog food specifically made for large breeds to nourish those fast-growing bodies.
Can puppies sleep through the night?
Eventually, just like human babies, your fur baby will sleep through the night – but there’s some training involved. Imagine finding yourself in a strange new environment, without your mom and siblings? You’re your puppy’s family now, and keeping them close to you will help them adapt to this new world and sleep longer at night.
Crate training can help your puppy establish a sleeping routine. Crates provide a calm, safe, consistent environment for sleep. (Plus, it keeps them contained so they’re not tearing up the house in the wee hours of the morning!) Make it comfortable with a soft dog bed or blanket, and offer a treat when your puppy enters it as a reward. But, prepare yourself for lots of barking at seemingly nothing in the beginning.
Training your puppy to sleep in a crate also helps with potty training since young puppies have no bladder or bowel control. As they get older, the rule of thumb is that for every month in your puppy’s age, they can go one hour between potty breaks. So a two-month-old puppy needs a bathroom break every two hours, a three-month-old puppy needs a bathroom break every three hours, and so on.
Keep in mind: Every puppy is different, so monitor their needs closely. It may be a good idea to set an alarm during the night for potty breaks at first.
How to establish a sleeping schedule for your puppy
Create a sleeping environment: Where will your puppy be sleeping? Consider an area that is close to you or where your pup can see you, as they’ll likely be scared in an unfamiliar place. Try to create an area that is dark and distraction-free so your puppy can relax and be comfortable.
Hydration and potty breaks: Your puppy will experience better nighttime sleep if it doesn’t have to get up to go potty too frequently. Most puppies will wake up to pee every two hours, so set an alarm. Having your pup near you will make it easier for you to hear them when they get restless.
To prevent accidents in the house, always take your puppy out for bathroom breaks right before bedtime and right when they wake up. This goes a long way!
Good nutrition means better sleep: Healthy dog food provides the energy your puppy needs to support their quickly growing body, strengthen their bones, and help them concentrate on their training. A healthy diet means your little one will play better and sleep better!
Routines are important: Your puppy will learn a sleeping schedule faster if it’s part of their daily routine. Dogs, like many humans, thrive on routines as it reduces anxiety. Try to keep the schedule the same every day, but if you have to change it for a last minute event or travel, adjust their schedule to ensure they still receive the amount of sleep their body needs.
Sample puppy sleep schedule
Here’s a simple sleep schedule to get you started. Keep in mind, every puppy is different, so keeping a sleep diary of when your puppy’s sleeping cycles happen will help you adjust to their needs.
- Wake up and take a potty break
- 15 minutes of play
- Breakfast time!
- Allow 30 minutes for their food to process
- Take them out for another bathroom break
- Wake up
- Take a potty break
- No meal during this time. Just provide 15 minutes of healthy play or a brief training session for basic commands
- Potty break upon waking up
- A longer walk or activity/play to tucker them out for their afternoon nap
- 30 minutes to process food
- Potty break
- Your pup will snooze in the late afternoon
- After all naps, immediately take your puppy out to potty and play for a while afterward
- Do some short training sessions
- Potty break every time your puppy wakes up
- Dinner time with a 30 minute food processing time
- Play or a take long walk to tire your pup out in time for bed
- Give your puppy cuddles galore to relax them before bedtime
- Potty break right before bedtime
- When it’s bedtime, place your puppy in the crate, offer them a treat, and say goodnight
During the early weeks with your puppy, have patience. There is so much to learn about you and their new world. As time passes, your puppy will sleep through the night. We promise!
Is your puppy getting too much sleep?
Probably not, but it can happen. Most healthy puppies will be happy, energetic, and eating well. This means that they’re getting the right amount of sleep.
If your puppy is moody, overly tired (sleeping all day), and doesn’t have a good appetite, call your veterinarian. You should be taking your pup for routine vet visits anyway, so if there is a problem, they should be able to identify it before you do.
Is your puppy not getting enough sleep?
A puppy that is sleep-deprived can develop serious health problems.
Signs of sleep deprivation are:
- Low appetite
- Grumpy mood
- Lower activity levels
- Personality changes – can become aggressive or anti-social
- Over-excitement: just like that toddler that suddenly is bursting with energy, cries easily, or rushes around uncontrollably, a puppy can react the same way.
If your puppy is showing signs of sleep deprivation, it’s time to see the vet and rule out any health problems. Good puppy insurance can take a bite out of vet bills and help keep them protected when the unexpected happens.
Teething can affect a good night’s sleep, too. Just like toddlers, our puppies are uncomfortable when new teeth erupt. Your puppy will suddenly want to chew on everything, including your couch, your shoes, the corner of the carpet, or the moulding in your house!
Here are some steps to soothe teething and promote good doggy dental care:
- Dental chews made for puppies
- A chewy toy (puppies need the softer ones)
- Frozen fruits and veggies like bananas, apples, dehydrated sweet potatoes, or frozen green beans can also soothe uncomfortable gums.
If you find yourself surprised at how much your new puppy is sleeping, just remember it’s normal and just as important for their development as a healthy diet.
Next time you want to wake up your puppy for a cuddle, remember there’s an entire lifetime of play ahead of you, so for now, let them rest.
Just like a good sleep schedule, pet insurance can have major benefits for your dog’s health. To ensure they’re protected from all the ruh-roh’s ahead, Pumpkin’s puppy insurance plans can help you pay for the best care.
*Pumpkin Pet Insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions. Waiting periods, annual deductible, co-insurance, benefit limits and exclusions may apply. For full terms, visit pumpkin.care/insurancepolicy. Products, discounts, and rates may vary and are subject to change. Pumpkin Insurance Services Inc. (Pumpkin) (NPN#19084749) is a licensed insurance agency, not an insurer. Insurance is underwritten by United States Fire Insurance Company (NAIC #21113. Morristown, NJ), a Crum & Forster Company and produced by Pumpkin. Pumpkin receives compensation based on the premiums for the insurance policies it sells. For more details visit pumpkin.care/underwriting-information and pumpkin.care/insurance-licenses.