So you got a new puppy and for most of the day this little fur ball is the cutest thing in the world. But during particular times of day, your little wiggly butt turns into a beast of incessant barking and biting. Let's face it, those puppy teeth HURT. So what's up with that? Chances are, your puppy is tired and overstimulated. Puppies need A LOT of sleep, and I mean A LOT. Dog's sleep more than humans (lucky them), but a puppy needs more sleep than most people think. The younger the puppy, the more sleep they will need. A newborn puppy will sleep about 22 hours a day and use the rest of it's time for things like nursing. At 3-months, your puppy will need about 15-20 hours of sleep a day. This sleep is crucial for body development. Things like: building muscle, brain development and improving the immune system. If your puppy does not get enough sleep, you get a cranky, destructive teeth chomper that is at risk for infections and illness. NOT GOOD.
The problem is that, like human toddlers, puppy toddlers don't necessarily know when they should sleep. They want to play, play, play! It's your job, as the canine parent, to teach your puppy the appropriate sleep patterns.
How To Help Puppy Sleep:
- Create a sleep friendly environment: A dog can hear 4x's the distance of a human and has 125-300 million scent glands compared to a human's measly 5 million. Nap time for a puppy should be quiet and dark with minimal noise. This may mean having puppy in a separate room from all the other household activity. Adjusting the light and noise is critical to making sure your puppy is getting good sleep.
- Give your puppy new experiences, but allow them to process those experiences afterward: Taking your puppy to the park or downtown is great for proper socialization skills. But again, remember that a dog's senses are much different from our own. What you may consider a mundane walk through the neighborhood is an overwhelming amount of smells and noises to your puppy. Give your puppy new experiences, but give them time to sleep and process afterward.
- Exercise: It's always good to provide your dog with daily exercise. An under exercised dog will become frustrated and find not-so-good ways to express this frustration. But, on the flip side, an over exercised puppy will become cranky. It's the body's way of saying "Hey! I need sleep!"
- How to Handle a Cranky Puppy: If you find yourself in a situation where your puppy is barking, biting and overall just being a little terror. Don't just toss them in the crate and call it good. Remember, a puppy might not realize he/she is tired! You must first find a way to calm your puppy and then put them in "the sleep zone". A crate should be a positive experience and should not be used for "punishment". If you are frustrated with your over-tired little fur ball, they will sense that frustration. Tossing them in the crate while frustrated will cause them to associate their crate to a negative feeling.
For more about sleep and dogs, please visit these other posts by Bark City: