Ep. 8: Importance of Puppy Naps

Oct 6, 2019

 When talking about puppies, we are typically focusing on socialization, training and exposing them to the world in a safe way. But an equally, if not more so, part of the equation is napping. Our puppies need lots of opportunities to nap so that they can properly process all that we are teaching them, all they are learning and to help them grow! We discuss the importance of puppy naps in this episode.


Dianna L. Santos


Welcome to the It is Time to Train Your Dog Podcast. In this podcast we talk about all things dog training. That can include giving your dog some of the skills they need to get through the day. It can also include a behind the scenes look. Butcher instructor may be going through and much more.

In this episode, I'm going to be talking about puppy naps. Before we start diving into the episode itself, let me just do a very quick introduction of myself. My name is Diana Santos. I'm the owner and lead instructor for Family Dog University, Dog Sport University, and Scent Work University. These are online dog training platforms that are designed to help provide high quality dog training instruction to as many people as possible. And we're very fortunate to have a client base is quite literally worldwide for Family Dog University. We provide a variety of different programs, both our Perfect Puppies program as well as our Family dog program, our real life skills program, and more. We provide online courses, seminars, and webinars that are all designed to help your dog be the best family dog companion they could possibly be. So just know a little bit more about me. Let's dive into the podcast episode itself.

So I know that we've been fairly quiet on the podcast. We haven't posted an episode in quite a while, and the reason being is that my dog Valor was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the age of six, which is horrible. We were given a prognosis of two to four months, and treatment options really just didn't exist. The types of things that we would be able to do to try to prolong his life, when you do a cost benefit analysis of what is involved with the treatment itself, how much limitation is that going to have on him, so on and so forth. It just wasn't an option for us. So he basically went immediately from one day, he's my happy, bouncy, wonderful boy who can do anything to, we're in hospice basically. And he didn't know that he was sick, thankfully, but he was, and it was a very aggressive cancer.

So I had to put all of my attention on him because that's just what you do as a dog owner and try to still run three soon to be four businesses and so on and so forth. But the majority of my concentration was on him, and he really made it two and a half months before he started having some difficulty breathing and he'd have these panic attacks I think that were related either because he was having difficulty breathing or it could have been something else in relation to his liver because they did see some changes on his liver as well. Long story short, I started noticing these changes in him that were significant enough to me to say, you know what? He still, for the most part, very happy. He's playing, he's eating, he's drinking. He wants to live life. He thinks that everything's great, but things are taking a turn for the worst.

And for me personally, I don't need him to suffer. I want him to be happy. So we made the decision to say goodbye before he had to get to the point where he could no longer eat or he could no longer breathe or anything like that. And it's a very individual type of idea. It's a very, you have to come to that decision on your own. It's a horrible thing that unfortunately all of us dog owners have to take on. So when Valor was diagnosed, I don't remember the timeframe when we started talking about it, but we decided that it would probably be a good idea for my mental health. It start looking for a puppy. It's not to replace valor. You cannot replace valor. He was a one of a kind and he was love of my life, but I knew that not having any dogs, he was my only dog, was not going to be good.

So we started looking for puppies, and so valor passed, and then I went about two weeks of absolutely no joy in my house at all. It was as though all the happiness and joy left the day that we said goodbye to him, and it was awful. I don't recommend anyone, if you are a dog owner, if you need to say goodbye to a pet, hopefully you have another pet in the home, or you have a family member or a friend who can have pets come over and say hi, something, anything. But not having any pets at all was not good. Fast forward to about, I think it was the third week roughly thereabout. I had made previously an appointment to meet a puppy and my husband and I traveled to where the puppy was located so we can meet the puppy together and determine whether that was going to be a good fit.

And he was a fabulous puppy. He was absolutely just sweet and smart and adorable. And then I mentioned Sweet. So we came home with a puppy, and this is what I wanted to talk about in this episode was the importance of puppy naps. And you could maybe able to hear it in the background, but there are puppy snores at this very moment. So I wanted to talk about this with all of that background. Not to make you sad that this terrible, horrible thing happened with valor, but just to understand the juxtaposition of having an adult 6-year-old, very active dog who we could get up and we can do anything. We could do a whole bunch of stuff and a lot of high octane, crazy training and playing and hiking and whatever else. And then he could come home and he could crash for a whole bunch of hours so I could get some work done, and then we would go off and do it again.

That was my life. While the entire time that I had valor, I purchased him when he was a year and a half until the point where we said goodbye when he was six. I then bring home this tiny little bundle six week old puppy, and that's not how they operate. They operate needing to nap a lot, and they can't train for insane amount of time. If you can get five minutes, it's a lot because butterfly also just, their brains are just, it's too much. It's too much stimulus. And they also need to potty a lot. They have little tiny baby bladders and they need to eat a lot. They have little tiny baby stomachs. Everything is completely different when you're dealing with a puppy. And I've been a professional trainer for a while. I've taught puppy classes, I've worked with puppies, one-on-one in private lessons.

It is entirely different living with a puppy. So for any trainers who haven't lived with a puppy in a while, really give your clients some slack. It's a lot of work and it's a very big adjustment. So what I want to talk about in this episode was the importance of naps and ensuring that your puppy is napping a sufficient amount. Because if you start noticing that your puppy is getting really bity or really barky or they just want to pick up everything with their little baby mouths and they just look as though they're a hurricane on four little eggs, it's probably because they're overtired and they're overstimulated. And I saw this with my puppy and his name is Archer, where I was just trying to do too much, and it was just too much for him. So he would start getting wild-eyed, his little lipstick would come out, he would want to hump everything and everything had to go in his mouth.

And this sweet, endearing, wonderful little puppy just turned into this terror. And I was like, good Lord. Now again, Doberman puppies do have a reputation of being little hellions. They're called dober sharks for a reason, and they're not easy puppies by any stretch, but this was taking it to another level. And he had had a fantastic foundation with his breeder. They had done a wonderful job with him where the entire litter, where they use what's called the puppy culture program, which I highly recommend is fantastic, but basically gives the puppies a really good strong foundation, learning different skills and how to cope with life and things like that. So it's not as though he was coming to me and didn't know anything. He knew a whole lot. I didn't understand how much he needed to just rest, because with puppies, they're taking in all the things that go on in the world and it's all new to them.

This is all new stimulus. So you think from his perspective, I think he's been here five days total as of this podcast. He from living at home for four 15 weeks roughly, and then he met this strange lady in person, her husband, they seem nice. We went to one of his classes that he was going to that night, and I got to play with him during the class. He thought that was pretty cool. And the next day we meet him again early in the morning before he normally gets up and he's like, oh, this is kind of interesting. And we stick him in the car in a crate and he's like, all right, this is kind of weird. And then off he went. So just that alone, we have to really understand from the puppy's perspective what is happening. That's a lot of things for them to take in.

And I didn't have any expectations. All I wanted to do during that trip was get him home. Now that meant 15 hours total of travel time with lots of potty stops and things like that. But that also means that every time that we stopped, it was usually another state, and he would come out and be like, what's this? And that can be startling for adult dogs, not to mention a creature that hasn't been alive that long. Everything is new. So I was expecting him when we would get home to just be exhausted, be like, okay, I just need to go to sleep instead. It was the other way around. He was super amped. He was like, oh my goodness. And he just buzzed all over the house because he was just overstimulated. So it took a while, but he was able to settle. And then I started turning into too much of trainer person and trying to do too much with him the following days.

And that's when you started noticing the wide-eyed and the humping and all this other stuff. And finally I talked to his breeder and she's like, he needs to sleep more. And it was just a really good reminder. They need a lot of time to sleep. And it's not only to help them in how they are learning and all the different things that they are experiencing, but for him, he's going to be a big boy. He's only 16 weeks right now. We saw the vet earlier this week, and he's 43 pounds already. He's probably going to be at least 85 pounds as an adult. So he's doing a ton of growing. All of that takes calories and energy, and that means that they need to sleep more. So these naps are really important, but it's how you do the nap that's also important. So what I wanted to lay out for anyone who may be thinking about getting a puppy or may have recently gotten a puppy or may have a puppy and are ripping their hair out, try to think of times where you can set up a little bit of a schedule for your puppy where they can have scheduled nap time and allow them to nap as long as they want to.

I mean, there are times where my puppy will sleep through a mealtime and I just push the mealtime back to when he wakes up. I'm like, okay, no problem. I'm not going to wake him up from a nap to go eat if he wants to sleep that long. That's okay by me sleep as much as you need to. But try to think of how it is that you can schedule your day to ensure that your puppy is getting the sleep that they need. So as an example, what our days are looking like roughly, and again, he hasn't been here that long, so all of this could be in flux still. But I'm very fortunate again that his breeder did a fantastic job in how he was raised. So he will sleep through the night, quite literally. We go to bed around 10. He wakes up anywhere between seven to nine.

I love it. That works for me. So that whole time he's sleeping, he's not going out for potty or anything, he's good. So let's say that he wakes up at eight. We wake up at eight, we immediately go outside and go potty because again, little tiny baby bladders. We then come in, we get our breakfast. We then typically go back outside. We may play a little bit, we may explore a little bit in our backyard, do some things like that. And then he'll come back inside and we may do a little bit of training. Maybe we do some name game, maybe we do some, it's your choice, maybe we'll do some tricks or something else. Or we'll just do some mat work where I'll just have a mat down and he just comes over and we're getting him to lay down on the mat automatically without me telling him something where he has to think.

Now again, I'm talking about maybe doing this for 10 treats. It's not a whole lot. So it's really, really short. And then from there, we typically go back outside because then he's like, oh, I need to poop. So we do our morning poop, and then we may do a little bit more, play, a little bit more exploration or what have you. And that's when his first nap time comes up. So I will typically have him nap during that time in the living room where I am situated with all my computer equipment so he can be snoring away while I'm attempting to do work. And then he has lunch around one. So he's usually up before then. We may do some more play. We obviously have done potty and whatnot. We may do a little training thing here or there. And then he eats lunch. We go back out for potty.

At some point we do maybe a little bit more play, and then he goes for another nap and there's more napping. Then he does that for a while. And then he has dinner around 5 30, 6 30. And same thing. We get up, we go potty, we come in, we eat, we then go back outside. We do a little bit more exploring, maybe a little bit of training, a little fun stuff. We do a little bit more playing, and then we may potty some more depending on what he needs to do. And then he gets some chews or things, and he goes back for a little nap. And then usually he wants to get a little bit more amped around 8, 8 30. So we'll do some running stuff, whatever else. Then we'll do some calming, petting, whatever else. And then he's down for bed for the whole night. So I hope that that really fast recap of what our day is can just show just how much napping there is.

Now, his naps can be anywhere between one hour to four and really depends. And I just let him sleep as much as he likes. He likes to nap outside. We live in Southern California, so if we're outside just enjoying the day, sometimes he'll just sleep on his bed outside and you're like, okay, I'm just going to nap here for an hour. Okay, that's fine, whatever you like. So the key here is that it's very, very different from dealing with an adult dog who when I may have been ready to do something, he was like, yeah, let's go do it. Where now it's like, okay, I need to really condense everything that I was planning on doing. It can't be that long. It can't be that intensive. It can't be that crazy. And I also have to give him time to just sleep where he is just sleeping.

And it's also an important thing for him to learn that I don't have to be helicopter mom all over him every two seconds, because otherwise you're constantly, okay, don't put that in your mouth. Okay, let's trade for this. Oh my goodness, whatcha are doing over there? And it drives you crazy. So the biggest thing that I'm noticing myself is that it is a huge difference having a puppy then it was having an adult dog. And if you haven't had a puppy for a very long period of time, some people, when they get their new puppy, it's when their elderly dog has passed away. So maybe their dog is 10, 12, 15 years old before they pass away. So 15 years potentially since you've experienced puppyhood, it could be a real shock to the system. So try to give yourself a little bit of leeway. Make sure that you breathe and set up times for your puppy to nap.

And if there are other people living in the house, make sure that they understand that puppy has to nap too. And it could be really hard. Puppies are really, really cute. So you're always like, oh, I want to do stuff with you. They need to sleep. So make sure that they don't have to be sequestered anywhere, but have them somewhere where it's safe. So either a crate or an xin or a puppy spot where people can't be constantly bothering them. They could be around people. It's actually good for life to be happening around them, so they're not startled by things happening in the house, but there aren't constantly children coming up and poking them on the head or stuff like that. And adults do that too. Puppies are very cute, and people just can't seem to contain themselves. So again, the whole point of this podcast was just to point out the importance of naps.

And I don't think that that has really been solidified enough. And a lot of the things that we talk about when we're talking about training our puppies, it's always teach them this and train them that and do this and do that. And the other thing, which is not a bad thing, training and learning is good, but they need to have the ability and the opportunity to recover from all of that learning and also the growing and experiencing everything because everything is new. Just very quick before we wrap up the episode. So then my first dog valor would do, he loved to watch the sky. We have a lot of air traffic over our house, whether it be birds or helicopters or planes. And he loved to watch the sky. Guy Archer, I think, is just seeing for the first time what these things are. So I think he was home maybe the second day, and he looked up and there was a bird, and he's like, what's that?

And it was a really large bird. It was like a giant crow or a raven or something. And then he saw a helicopter. He's like, what's that? Just mesmerized by it. And you could see just the way that he was holding himself. He wasn't afraid, but he was really processing what it was that he was seeing. He was experiencing that helicopter for the very first time. And if you can think about it in the context of just calorie usage of his brain, trying to put together what his eyes are seeing, that's a lot. And I can tell you later on that day, maybe like a half hour later, he was pooped. Do I think that he was pooped just from the helicopter? No. But I think that it contributed to just his need for, I need to go into nap mode so I can process everything that happened today. So again, if you are either thinking about getting a puppy, if you just got a puppy, or if you had a puppy for a little bit and you're ripping your hair out, take a look at your nap routine. They may need more opportunities to nap and to truly nap, not quote unquote nap, but everyone is still all over them. Where they can be in a safe place. Doesn't have to be sequestered, but a spot that's there that they could actually nap

Soil. I hope you found this episode helpful. Happy training, and we look forward to seeing you soon.