Sleeping Dogs Lie: The Odd Truth About Canine Sleep

Ever since I started running with Zola, I have been in search of parallels between my dog’s athletic pursuits and my own.  They aren’t that difficult to find.  From strength training to nutritional analysis, the stuff that I have learned as an endurance athlete always seems applicable to my dog.  That’s why I have been confused over Zola and her visiting Retriever friends’ constant need for napping.

When I am really getting a lot of exercise, I have to get more sleep.   At the peak of my triathlon training, I need about 10 hours of sleep per night.   During the off season, I can get by with a lot less sleep.   Apparently, that’s not the case with dogs.

Firstly, dogs require more sleep than people.   An article on the states that dogs sleep 1.5 to 2x as much as we humans.   Like people, they also go through REM and slow wave sleep cycles. Dogs cycle through these more quickly and wake more frequently.  Fair enough, but that’s not the odd thing.    Unlike people, increasing the activity of a dog can lessen its sleep requirements.    According to, “a dog living as a pet in the home is likely to sleep more than a dog that works for a living, like a search and rescue dog or a dog working on a farm.”   It goes on to say that dogs “are able to adjust their sleep pattern so that they can be awake when there is something to do, and asleep the rest of the time.”  Pretty cool.

So if your dogs are lying around the house hinting that it’s not a good time to exercise, don’t believe them.   Taking them out for a run just might mean that you’ll get a better night’s sleep.


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