How Much Sleep Does Your New Puppy Really Need?

A sleepy puppy

We've put together some friendly advice for the well-being of you and your new puppy. Planning to bring a puppy home should be the same whatever time of year it is, and if it's for a birthday, anniversary, Christmas, or just the right time for you and your family. Puppies should never be an impulse buy, or bought for children (or adults) without the adults in the household being fully aware and prepared.

Something to remember about puppies is that they need sleep - lots of it, just like babies. Your puppy will need about 18-19 hours sleep in every 24. So only expect 4 to 5 hours of being awake and only about an hour at a time. If they're kept awake and playing, you could both be heading for a stressful time.

Over-tired and over-excitable

Just like excitable toddlers, puppies are learning, and just as a lack of sleep has a bad affect on a child's behaviour, your puppy will be badly behaved if he doesn't get enough sleep. If a puppy is overtired, he will not learn as well as he could. This will affects his ability to make correct choices - for example chasing excited children, jumping up and mouthing. Behaviour will only get worse in an over-tired puppy, which will then take time to unlearn. Taking a 14-week old puppy for lots of really long walks and keeping them awake all day to 'tire them out' is having the opposite effect, for the following reasons:

What happens if a young puppy (under around five months old) has too much play and exercise but not enough sleep? His body will produce adrenalin to cope with the demands and stresses, which means the dog can't then settle down when at home. If adrenalin builds up over a number of days, the stress hormones take much longer to get rid of, and you end up with a frantic puppy biting anything that moves. Neither the puppy nor your family will be able to relax.

Learning to be okay with being alone

If you bring your new puppy home during a school holiday when everyone is home, or take a few weeks off work to settle puppy in, your puppy will get used to having people around the house. Naturally, it will believe this is the normal way of life. But come the day when everyone is back at work or school, your puppy will be home alone for the first time in its life. No wonder it gets confused. And lonely. You need to teach him it's OK to be alone. So what can you do to begin the training straight away?

Remembering a young pup can cope with being awake for only about an hour at a time, let him have some fun for a while - play games; do some training; let him out to investigate the garden (accompany him if very young, or small, and a pup may need a coat if it's very cold). Take him out for a walk if he's old enough. All this should be done in short bursts depending on age. Then give him his meal. Once he's had a chance to burn off some energy and his tummy is full, he will be ready for a good sleep. Put him into his bed in a quiet room, shut the door and leave him alone to sleep. Make sure nobody disturbs him for a while. He will get much needed sleep and learn a valuable lesson that it's okay to be alone. This might be hard on your young children, or even you if you want to spend time with your puppy when he needs to sleep, but it is for everyone's benefit.

Another sleepy puppy

Bedtime routines

This routine can be adapted to fit in with your lifestyle – it is hard to get home from work at 6pm only for puppy to go to bed for the night just as you walk through the door! The length of time pup needs to sleep doesn't change, but you can tweak bedtime a bit as long as pup makes up the sleep at other times.

Our recommended bedtime routine for new puppies is to take them for a short walk at 6pm (if they can go outside) or play some games for around 10 to 15 minutes, then give the last meal, followed by a trip to the garden for the toilet. Put your puppy into its bed and leave him alone to sleep – this can be in the living room with you, or in their own place – but they should be in their own bed, not on your lap. When you go to bed, gently wake him, keeping things very low key - no fun, no playing - for one last toilet visit, then back to bed. Pup may make a bit of fuss for 15 minutes or so, but if left alone will go back to sleep.

For pups that aren't house trained yet see our house training article for details of how to set up an overnight sleeping space with toilet area, or be prepared to get up once or twice for another toilet break. Keep things quiet and once toileted, back to sleep.

In the morning, your puppy will be ready for breakfast at 6 - 7am as 12 hours sleep is about right overnight. During the day they then need another 6 to 8 hours as naps, at least one long one, alone in their bed.

Top quality care & advice for your new puppy

Get the answers to all your questions about raising your puppy, and learn how to prevent problems in the future. Basic obedience, house training, chewing & biting and much more. Give your new best friend the very best start in life with our foundation puppy training session, available in Essex and London.

If you are struggling with house training, sleep or separation problems, and have a small-medium breed puppy, Linda's expertise is available as residential training in her own home, let us help you through the difficult early stages.

We also offer puppy phone consults for common problems such as biting, chewing, house training, crate training, exercise and diet for all breeds under 20 weeks.

Please contact us for a Puppy Training Information Pack.

Wishing you and your puppy a happy, successful future.

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