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A lot of new puppy owners grossly underestimate the amount of rest that young puppies need. When they first come home, puppies should be getting around 20 hours of rest each day, yet many puppies don’t get anywhere near that much.
It’s not uncommon for owners to mistake an overtired puppy for an under stimulated puppy, and try to fit more and more activity into the day to try and wear them out. If your puppy is hyperactive, easily frustrated, particularly nippy or barky or otherwise wound up, it’s much more likely that the problem is TOO much stimulation, rather than not enough.
Most puppies are not great at getting enough sleep on their own – like young kids they tend to play for as long as possible, then crash out exhausted. One of your jobs as a new puppy owner is to set things up to help your puppy get enough rest. They should have an area to sleep that is comfortable and free from distractions, and you should place them there regularly to encourage them to rest. This is particularly important if you have a busy household with lots of activity; for families with young children, creating a kid-free zone like a play pen, crate or laundry is a good strategy.
Invest some time to create positive associations with the puppy’s sleeping area, so that they can happily settle there. This will help to prevent “but I’m NOT TIRED” style tantrums from overtired puppies. Slow paced enrichment activities like kongs, bones, lick mats, snuffle mats and so on are great ways to encourage calm behaviour in the sleeping area.
If possible, we recommend bringing your puppy inside at night time to help reduce distractions that could interfere with them getting a good sleep. If your dog is an outside-only dog, setting them up with a crate just inside the door can be a good compromise.
Proper rest is crucial to a developing puppy, both physically and mentally, and chronically tired puppies face an increased risk of behavioural problems. Taking the time to set up their environment and routine to promote good sleep habits is well worth it in the long run!
If you’re having trouble getting your puppy to sleep enough, we recommend contacting your local professional trainer for assistance.