Let Sleeping dogs lie

Bangalore Mirror Bureau | May 6, 2014, 02.00 AM IST

 Have you ever asked yourself: Is my dog getting enough sleep? If you have not, you should. Just like how you need eight hours of sleep to be healthy, your dogs too need their full quota of sleep. A normal, healthy, adult dog needs up to 16 hours of sleep, while puppies, old dogs, sick dogs and even stressed-out pets need a lot more than that. Dogs living in cities are easily stressed, because they are like a sponge — they absorb ‘our’ stress.

Dogs are social sleepers. They need company to feel secure and to sleep well. Observe the street dogs — regardless of how intensely they guard their food and territory from other dogs, they all come together at night, perhaps on a sand pile in front of a construction site, to sleep together. If you want your dog to sleep tight at night, then the trick is to let him sleep in your bedroom. If you don’t want to share your bed with the pet, then move his doggy-bed into your room. Dogs are also polyphasic sleepers — they don’t sleep for 16 hours at a stretch; they sleep in short bursts and often move from place to place when they sleep. As long as you are home, they like to sleep in a place from where they can observe you. So it’s a good idea to keep a little blanket or rug under the dining table, in the living room, bedroom, and outside for your dog to sleep; simple measures that go a long way in improving a dog’s well-being.

My teacher always says: “Every dog deserves a sofa.” What she means is: They just need some elevated surface to sleep. Dogs like that. I often see pet parents complain about dogs wanting to sit on the sofa. I provide two solutions. For the first three years, I did not let my dog Nishi get on the sofa. Instead, I got her a sofa of her own. When the guests settled down on the sofa, she settled on hers, as if she was ready for the conversation that was to ensue. The other option is to get a nice dust cover for your own sofa and let your dog on it. After the first three years, I caved in and let Nishi on our sofa and nothing has changed in our relationship, except for having made us all happier.

About 70 per cent of a dog’s sleep is deep sleep. This is the time when the brain cells repair and regenerate. About 30 per cent is REM sleep. This is when they relive the activities of the day and figure out how to cope with it. Pet parents are familiar with their dogs eating or whimpering in their sleep. That’s what is going on inside their furry heads. So, let their beds or sleeping areas provided be large enough for them to stretch out, and be able to express these actions. Dogs let their guard down completely when they are asleep. It is their most vulnerable state. They do not fall asleep till they know they are safe and secure. So when they are woken up suddenly, it can be unnerving. A startled dog may cower, yelp, growl or sometimes even snap. So, remember to let sleeping dogs lie.

I hope you are now armed with enough knowledge to give your dog good quality sleep and when he’s asleep, no matter how adorable he looks, don’t hug him or wake him up. Hug a teddy bear instead and let your dog sleep in peace.

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