Have you ever given a thought on your dog’s sleep? Where does your dog sleep? Does he sleep alone? In a crate? I have, from the first moment I brought my first puppy home, been set on letting my dog feel safe. Now, I’m am no expert on this subject. Far from. However, if you give it a thought, it is very obvious.
I don’t know why so many different people gave me that friendly advice to make sure my dog slept alone from the first night. I’ve never actually been able to get a single thought on how this would be beneficial for any of us. I tried to put this friendly advice into action, by placing my little whippet pup in his own room behind a locked door, and kept in mind that the cries would stop as soon as the puppy got used to it. Well, I lasted for maybe ten minutes before I let him out and placed him in my bed with me. I couldn’t bare hearing his sad and scared cries any longer. He fell asleep in an instant, and he’s been sleeping in my bed ever since.
I’m not saying that you should do like me, letting your dog sleep in the bed with you. Some people don’t like having the dogs in their bed, and I respect that. However, your dog will probably feel so much safer just by being allowed to sleep in the same room as you, or at least if he’s given the choice to do so. Why? Safety in numbers. Dogs are social sleepers.
When you sleep in a group, the chances of someone hearing danger is a lot bigger than by sleeping on your own. This goes for dogs, too. Sleep is very important for almost all creatures, and feeling safe equals better and deeper sleep. My two dogs are welcome to sleep in my bed if they want to, and although my border collie will choose to sleep on the floor when she’s getting too warm in the bed, she will stay within sight, and both my dogs will go to sleep at the same time as me.
The dominance theory was all over me when I got my whippet, and people were telling me that he might start dominate me if I let him sleep with me because I would be on the same level as him, and he would start owning the bed. And not to mention, this would confuse him because the leader always slept for themselves. «Surprisingly» I never had any problems with him due to him sleeping with me. Besides snuggling together all night and become addicted to having him there, of course!
The Rapid Eye Movement sleep, or REM sleep, is something that is very important for both dogs and humans. I read in some article (sorry, I was unable to find the link to this one) that the lack of REM sleep can cause behaviour problems in dogs and that it may cause stress and other issues. To enter REM sleep, your dog needs to sleep in a relaxed position, as REM sleep paralyses the muscles. When your dog has to use some of their muscles to be in that specific posture, he will not enter the REM stage. This is why, if your dog is put in a crate while sleeping, the crate must be big enough for the dog to switch positions.
Dogs also need more sleep during a day than we do. Providing a relaxing and safe home for them is of importance to keep your dog fit, calm and happy. My whippet is most relaxed when being near me, so I have placed doggy beds right by the places I spend the most of my time, like under my desk, where I have my computer. Here he can sleep safely close by my feet and legs. My border collie just has to be able to see me to be relaxed.
I do see evidence of my dogs viewing me as their safe zone when it comes to sleep. I am filming them from time to time when I am gone for work, and while they do sleep while I’m not at home, they are not relaxed. They will wake up by the smallest sound, and just in general they are less calm. They also seem to be in a better mood during the days I am off and spending my whole day at home, and this might just be from them getting their sleep. I will get in a bad mood if I haven’t slept well. Won’t you?
Where does your dog sleep?