Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Puppies Spend Most Of Their Time Sleeping

To Sleep, Perchance To Dream

Puppies are sleeping
Ssssh, be quiet as a mouse
Puppies are sleeping
Ssssh, they are dreaming
Puppies are sleeping
Ssssh, there are puppies in the house

The importance of sleep for puppies cannot be overemphasized. Many puppies have not grown into the fully beautiful adults that they should have because they were over stressed from lack of sleep. This is not something that we can prove empirically but it is an observation from many years of raising puppies. Puppies from the age of 8 weeks to 6 months need naps. They should have their mid day dinner and then be put in their crate or pen for about a two hour rest. They should also go to bed fairly early or take a late afternoon nap. This is an important step in managing the care of growing puppies. They will most often want to sleep after eating, after playing hard and when riding in the car!

Constant stimulation of running with other dogs, playing and jumping is not good for puppies, especially puppies under six months of age. You should play with your puppy, of course, but sessions should be short lasting no more than 20 minutes. Then give your puppy a signal that play time is over, "All done", or "Okay thats it" are good signals. Then get the puppy used to quiet time, read a book or sit in quiet conversation. This trains the puppy to know that there is time for play and time for rest and relaxation. Remember that you are setting up the neruology of your puppy for the rest of its life, help it to learn about it's environment and develop good habits.

We often wonder what our dogs are thinking when they sleep and they make paddling motions with their feet like they are dreaming. I think I know what our Australian Shepherd, Bounce, is thinking. She is herding dogs or sheep or birds. Her little woofs mean get over there or come back this way. But when a puppy paddles its little legs and gives out tiny barks in it's sleep, what could it possibly be dreaming about? In its short little life not that much has happened! Perhaps it is thinking, "Hey, that is the toy I wanted," or "Let me be first to the feeding dish." Whatever it is nothing is more peaceful and beautiful than a sleeping puppy.

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