When you think of a puppy, the first thing that comes to mind is somewhere along the lines of puppy breath, baby teeth, tiny barks, and oversized feet. But have you ever noticed how much some puppies sleep?
Much like human babies, puppies may spend hours and hours napping on your lap, on the couch, or even in some weird spots like behind a cupboard or on a table.
Sleep is a super important part of a puppy’s development, and not getting enough of it can make them pretty grouchy. I mean, if you were going on four hours of sleep a day, constantly waking up to go potty or check that your humans didn’t abandon you, you’d be a little grumpy too if you didn’t make it up with naps.
Unfortunately, not all puppies are veritable Sleeping Beauties. Some can be stubborn as hell when it comes to getting enough sleep, which could lead to a lot of moodiness and a bit of a headache for their owners.
This article covers the reasons why your puppy may not want to nap, what the benefits of enforcing puppy naps are, and how you can help your furry little friend get the rest it needs to remain as adorably mischievous as ever.
Why Won’t Puppies Nap?
If your puppy refuses to nap or starts crying during enforced naps, there are a few things that might be going wrong.
1. They Have Separation Anxiety
This is especially true if you’re trying to crate train your puppy or teach them to sleep in a separate room. From birth, puppies spend every minute of their day either around their mom, siblings, or other humans.
Trying to get your puppy to sleep alone could come as a shock and make them feel scared and anxious at the sudden lack of company. This could lead to a lot of crying, howling, and whining whenever it gets close to nap time.
Separation anxiety could also cause a lot of other typically naughty ‘puppy’ behavior like chewing shoes and furniture, urinating inside the house, and barking or biting. Sometimes puppies outgrow their separation anxiety, but most of the time, you’ll have to actively train your dog to be more independent to remedy the situation.
2. They’re Overtired
Believe it or not, an overtired puppy is even less likely to sleep than a regular, tired pup. Instead, they may turn to zoomies or rough play to alleviate their frustration at being sleepy, much like humans start getting snappy and emotional when they haven’t had enough sleep.
3. They Don’t Have a Schedule
Yes, I know dogs don’t seem like the type to check their calendar before a significant commitment. Still, most dogs do live according to a routine, and not enforcing naps from a young age could be the reason your puppy is protesting sleeping in the day so vehemently.
If you’re playing or riling your furry friend up just when you want them to nap, this could also lead to an outright refusal to sleep.
4. They Don’t Have a Safe Space to Nap
No matter how many times you’ve hugged them or petted them, puppies will still look for a quiet, safe spot if they want to take a nap. And sometimes, a dog bed in the middle of the lounge just won’t cut it.
In many cases, puppies without the right crate or dog bed feel like they’re exposed and vulnerable, especially if they’re new to your house and haven’t quite gotten used to you yet either.
5. They’re Not Getting Enough Exercise
A tired-out puppy is much more likely to take a nap than one who’s been lying around all day. If your puppy isn’t getting enough exercise, doesn’t have a lot of playtimes, or can’t go outside all that much, they might not want to nap because they’re not quite tired enough yet.
6. They’re Not Eating Enough
Let’s be honest, it can be difficult to determine how much your puppy needs to eat. Are you feeding them too much? Too little? Often enough?
A hungry puppy won’t sleep or want to nap. They could also become restless and upset if they’re hungry and you’re trying to get her to sleep.
7. They Might Be Sick
Although it’s unlikely, your puppy may not want to take naps or sleep at night because they’re sick. If this behavior accompanies general restlessness, lethargy, or symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea, you may need to take your pup to the vet to get them checked out.
Signs of An Overtired Puppy
If your puppy is overtired, they may be exhibiting some of the following symptoms:
- Biting: Puppies who are overtired often get nibbly and might bite you or things around them with varying force.
- Mischievous behavior: Running away when you want to pick them up, not listening, or hiding when you call them could mean your puppy is tired but trying to stay awake.
- Drinking lots of water: If your puppy is overtired, there’s a good chance they may be feeling frustrated, stressed, or overwhelmed, which could lead to lots of drinking, and just as much urinating, often inside the house.
- Zoomies: Ah yes, a timeless classic where your puppy turns into Sonic the Hedgehog and speeds around the house like they’re possessed. Zoomies are usually a sign of excitement but could also be a symptom of exhaustion, especially if your puppy has become so tired they are frustrated.
- Bloodshot eyes: Yes, even puppies can get red, bloodshot eyes when they’re overtired, and it’s one of the surest ways to know your furry pal needs some sleep.
If your puppy shows any of the abovementioned signs, enforcing naps may be your best next option.
The Benefits of Puppy Enforced Naps (And Why You Should Be Doing Them Too)
Enforced naps are a great way of teaching your puppy to be independent, especially if you combine them with crate training. They’re also perfect for ensuring your pup gets enough rest during growth spurts, which may use up a lot of their energy.
Some other benefits of enforced naps include:
- Conserving energy for growth
- Building a routine around sleep, play, and exercise
- Can help teach your puppy independence and assist in your efforts to crate train them
- It could help your puppy learn good behavior and not be hyper all the time
- It will prevent any misbehaving due to being overtired
- It gives humans a break, so they don’t feel their entire day is filled with playing and training
- Naps help refresh your puppy’s mind and let them benefit more from playing, outings, or training sessions
Four Ways To Enforce Puppy Naps
So, you’re sold on the benefits of enforced naps but don’t have the slightest idea where to start. If your puppy is overactive, hyper, or refuses to sit still, teaching them how to take a nap without locking them in a room and ignoring them for an hour may seem like an impossibility.
Thankfully, there are loads of ways to enforce puppy naps, and most of them start with helping your pup calm down. After all, a hyperactive, zoomie puppy isn’t just going to magically fall asleep, so below is a list of the top four ways to teach your puppy to nap.
1. Get Your Puppy to Calm Down
This may seem obvious, but a puppy that’s speeding around the house, barking, or getting ready to play is probably not going to like the idea of a nap. To start approaching the idea of napping, you’ll have to calm your pup down.
- A chew toy
- Their favorite blanket
- A calming chew
- Pick your puppy up from whatever activity they were busy with
- Sit down with your puppy on your lap and either give them their favorite chew toy, cover them with their favorite blanket, or, in extreme scenarios, give them a calming dog chew that can help them relax and rid them of any anxiety that may be working them up.
- Pet your dog gently while keeping them still and avoiding sounds or activities that may rile them up
Chew toys for dogs can work a lot like pacifiers for dogs. Once your puppy starts calming down, you can move on to one of the next steps.
2. Start Crate Training
Crate training can be a great way to get your puppy to sleep according to a schedule. Although a fully crate-trained puppy takes time, it can also reinforce a sense of independence and prevent future separation anxiety.
- A metal, wood, or plastic dog crate or playpen
- A dog bed
- A chew toy
- Your puppy’s favorite treats
- Set up the crate with lots of blankets and a dog bed to make it feel comfortable for your puppy
- Start crate training gradually, only keeping your pup inside for ten minutes at a time and always rewarding them with a treat or their favorite toy.
- Slowly extend the amount of time your puppy spends inside the crate, making sure you always stay in their line of sight as loneliness or fear of being left alone could ruin crate training completely and turn your puppy into a nervous dog.
- Once your puppy spends a good amount of time in their crate, you may notice they get drowsy and doze off. It’s a good idea to praise your puppy for good behavior and keep reinforcing the idea that crate time means nap time.
Your pup must always see. their crate as a safe, welcoming space to take a nap. Associating negative emotions or memories like being put in the crate for misbehaving may cause your puppy to howl or whine whenever they’re placed inside.
3. Create a Routine
Most dogs live their lives by routine: they eat at the same time, wake up at the same time, and often want to play around the same time each day. Getting your puppy to take enforced naps during the day can help reinforce a positive schedule, although you’ll need to keep to enforcing these naps at the same time every day.
It’s also important to note creating a routine for your puppy’s naps is a lot easier if they’re crate trained.
- Your dog’s crate, dog bed, or a quiet room in the house that has a comfortable blanket or rug
- A hot water bottle wrapped with a sweater or shirt with your scent on it
- A few treats
- Choose time slots for your puppy’s naps. Try to have each nap be at least half an hour-long, although how long they last will vary from dog to dog.
- Stick to these time slots every day. When the time comes for your puppy to take a nap, show them to their crate, bed, or favorite sleeping spot.
- Sit with them and let them calm down. If you’re struggling to get your pup to relax, use a hot water bottle wrapped in a shirt or sweater to keep them warm and comfortable.
- Once your pup starts relaxing, leave them alone.
- Even if they start whining in their crate or the room, they’re supposed to be napping in, leave them be until they quiet down or the half-hour is up.
More than anything, you need to stick to this schedule no matter what. Reinforcing this schedule is essential to teach your puppy to sleep at specific times each day.
Even if your puppy doesn’t go to sleep for the first few times, stick to the schedule and praise positive behavior until they learn to sleep whenever they are taken to their crate or bed.
4. Tire Them Out
This works on dogs of all ages and could help your puppy like naps a bit more. It’s also especially helpful if you add active time about an hour before nap time in your puppy’s daily routine.
- Your puppy’s favorite toys
- A ball
- A leash and collar or harness
- There are a few ways to go about tiring your puppy out. One of the best is to take them for a nice long walk. Aim to stay out for at least 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how active and how old your puppy is.
- If you get home and they still don’t seem sleepy, try playing with their favorite toys or having a game of fetch.
- Another option is to join your pup on their zoomies and chase them around the yard a bit.
- Once they seem to be slowing down, take them to their bed, crate, or sleeping area after offering them plenty of water, and follow the steps in the option above this to help them fall asleep.
Not only does lots of playtime and activity help tucker your puppy out, but it helps them stay healthy and, in many ways, can stimulate their minds too.
Tips For Letting Your Puppy Get Quality Sleep
If you set up a routine, focus on crate or bed training, and make sure your puppy is calm enough before nap time to go to sleep, you shouldn’t have too much trouble enforcing naps. If you’re still struggling to get your puppy to go to sleep or stay asleep, here are a few tips that might help:
- Take your puppy outside for a potty break right before their nap time. This could help them associate doing their business outside with taking a nap soon after.
- Make sure the space they’re sleeping in is dim and quiet. Bright lights and noises have the same effect on a sleeping puppy as they do on a sleeping human. Keeping your puppy’s sleeping space calm can help them doze off sooner.
- Resist caving when your puppy is restless, starts whining, or barking during nap time. It may seem tough to ignore the puppy eyes and adorable little whines, but it’s in their best interest to teach them you can’t be manipulated into giving in to their every whim.
- Give your puppy something that smells like you. Good options include a hot water bottle with a sweater wrapped around it or even a dirty sock. Having a source of warmth and your smell can help your puppy relax enough to get drowsy.
- Make sure your puppy is eating enough. A full tummy can help your puppy get better sleep and doze off much faster.
- Be careful with indoor heating or cooling: Things like underfloor heating or air conditioning could cause your puppy to overheat or feel too cold to nap. Ensure temperatures stay mild and comfortable, so your pup doesn’t feel hot and bothered or chilly when trying to nap.
- Using calming pheromones: A pheromone collar or spray can help your puppy relax enough to go to sleep, especially if they suffer from separation anxiety or stress.
- Give them options: Sometimes, your puppy won’t want to sleep on their bed and might choose to sleep on the couch or at your feet. Don’t disturb your dog while they’re sleeping. Instead, leave them be and later reinforce their sleeping area with praise or treats. Interrupting their sleep may simply make the situation worse or make them feel uncomfortable when they get drowsy during the day.
If you still have questions about your puppy’s naps or sleeping habits, this section is sure to clear up any confusion or queries.
How Much Sleep Do Puppies Need?
Most puppies need about 18-20 hours of sleep a day. Obviously, this number can vary a lot according to each puppy and their activity level, but it’s a reasonable estimate to go on.
Typically puppies sleep between 10-14 hours at night and then take naps accounting for around six to ten hours each day. This means they may only be awake for about four hours each day and explains all their built-up energy for playing and getting zoomies.
When Should Puppies Nap?
Puppies will usually nap throughout the day. However, if your pup has difficulty falling asleep at night or whines and howls before bedtime, you may want to avoid letting them sleep for at least two hours before their bedtime.
How Long Do Puppy Naps Last?
Puppy naps make up for up to half of their daily sleep quota. Each nap could last between 30 minutes and an hour, and in most cases, they will take a nap every hour or so of being awake.
Should I Force My Puppy to Nap?
Enforcing puppy naps can be a great way to help your pup learn a routine and build their independence while keeping them well-rested and healthy. As long as puppy naps are encouraged with positive reinforcement and patience, forcing your pup to sleep at specific times each day is not only harmless but could significantly benefit their growth and mental development.
Should I Stop My Puppy From Napping?
If your puppy sometimes has trouble sleeping at night, you may want to stop them from napping closer than two hours to their bedtime. However, in most other cases, you shouldn’t disturb your puppy’s naps as this could reset all the training you’ve done and force you to start from the beginning again.
Until What Age Should Puppies Nap?
Most dogs will nap for a few hours each day for the rest of their lives. However, between four and six months, you may start noticing your puppy is napping much less and spending more time sleeping at night than in the day.
This is natural, and you should follow your puppy’s natural sleeping rhythm, especially if they deviate from a previously established nap schedule.
Older dogs sleep for between 12 and 16 hours a day, so their naps will be significantly shorter. How long each dog sleeps depends on its breed and disposition.
Where Should Puppies Sleep or Take Naps?
Puppies should be given options when it comes to sleeping and napping. Although crate training is an excellent way to reinforce discipline for dogs who enjoy structure, it’s not entirely necessary if you or your dog aren’t sold on the idea.
Contrary to popular belief, letting your non-aggressive family puppy sleep on your bed isn’t going to turn them into a dominant dog who thinks they’re running the show.
Should I Crate Train My Napping Puppy?
It’s really up to you if you want to crate train your puppy. However, doing so is a proven way to build confidence and independence in your pup, prevent the development of separation anxiety, and could help you potty train them too.
However, if you don’t want them sleeping in a crate forever, a good rule is to crate train them until they can sleep through the night and then moving them to a dog bed or your bed.