Are Dogs Nocturnal?

Dog Sleeping

Some animals are wired to stay up at night and sleep during the day. We often associate nocturnal behaviors with felines, but sometimes you may wonder if dogs are also nocturnal. When pets sleep during the day and roam around the house at night, it makes you wonder. Some dogs show nocturnal tendencies but are they considered a nocturnal species? Here is what research shows us about the instinctual sleeping habits of canines.

Are dogs nocturnal by nature?

Pets Radar answers the question about the natural sleeping habits of dogs. Most dogs are not nocturnal by nature, although some individuals may sleep more during the day and choose to be active at night. The term nocturnal means that the animal is the most highly active during the night, preferring to sleep during the day. Animals in the wild tend to be more active at night when they’re hunting prey as a survival measure. It’s often easier to hunt at night, and it’s safer for some animals. Being nocturnal is a behavior that is tied to survival instincts. It’s more common in predatory animals with physical adaptations such as larger eyes with physical constructs that give them improved night vision. Most nocturnal animals have an enhanced sense of sound or smell for locating food in the dark. It’s a generational behavior that originates with animals in the wild. Wild dogs, wolves, and coyotes exhibit nocturnal behaviors but their domestic counterparts have been conditioned out of these behaviors as there is no need for them to survive. Domesticated pets have lived with humans for centuries, and it’s unlikely that the need for instinctual nocturnal behavior to continue.

Nocturnal vs Diurnal

Found Animals helps us understand the two types of sleeping patterns. Nocturnal is sleeping during the day and becoming active at night. Diurnal is the opposite. It has to do with when the levels of alertness and energy are at their highest. It’s suggested that dogs are neither nocturnal nor diurnal, but that they fit more precisely into the category of social sleepers. They develop sleeping patterns that are more closely aligned with their owners or families. If an owner works the night shift or is a night owl, the dog is more likely to emulate the sleeping patterns to spend quality time with its owner.

Sleeping patterns for dogs

Dogs generally sleep from ten to fourteen hours a day. Older dogs tend to sleep for more hours than three-year-old dogs. Puppies also sleep more hours per day than adult dogs. The health of the dog may also determine his need for sleep. Hepper explains that dogs become the most active when the sun first comes up in the morning or when it goes down at dusk. They’re naturally crepuscular. It’s a trait that makes them adaptive and allows them to switch their sleep patterns with little transition required. They adapt their sleeping patterns from their families as they are pack animals. Since humans are by nature diurnal, it’s more common for dogs to adopt a diurnal pattern if that is the norm for their families. Dogs develop routines similar to humans with habitual sleeping patterns, but disrupting their sleeping habits isn’t as difficult as for humans.

Can dogs develop sleep disorders?

If your dog is having trouble sleeping during the night, and he’s roaming the halls keeping you awake, there could be something going on that you need to investigate. Dogs can have trouble sleeping in ways that are similar to people. There are a few reasons why your dog might be having problems sleeping at night. The most common problems with dogs that can cause insomnia are stress, oversleeping during the day, and falling into activity patterns that stimulate their brain at the wrong times of the day. Here are a few strategies that might help.

Lifestyle changes

If your dog sleeps during the day and roams the house at night, there might be something you’re doing with the dog that has his days and nights turned around. Dogs that receive too much stimulation in the evening may become energized with heightened brain activity that makes them wide awake into the wee hours of the night. Playing challenging games with a dog in the evening can provide stimulation that makes it difficult or impossible for him to sleep after you’ve retired for the evening. It’s best to play games with dogs during the daylight hours. Help them to burn off excess energy with a walk. Do things during the day that keeps them stimulated and active so they calm down and get sleepy when it’s time to go to bed for the night. Restrict activities with the dog to daylight hours, and spend evenings with them that involve more sedate activities. Avoid doing anything that is going to turn on their brains and trigger activity. Avoid getting the dog excited before it’s time to go to sleep. Dogs that receive plenty of exercise during the day, eat a healthy and balanced diet and get plenty of love and attention are less likely to have trouble sleeping. Set a schedule and develop routines for playtime and wind-down, the same way you would with your children. If there is a situation that causes your dog to feel stressed out, do what you can to resolve the situation. If your dog’s sleep schedule is upside down, it may take a few days to get things turned around, but addressing the root of the problem can help your dog to get back on track.

Final thoughts

Dogs are neither nocturnal nor diurnal. They’re social sleepers that generally adapt to the schedules of their owners. Most dogs that have nocturnal habits receive too much stimulation close to bedtime. Most of the time you can help to turn around your dog’s sleeping schedule by trying a few of the lifestyle tweaks recommended. Get into the habit of helping your dog wind down after a normal day. Set a routine of evening habits that involve calm activities to help everyone get ready for a restful night’s sleep.

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