In the legend of Tristan and Isolde, once the lovers have been discovered by King Mark of Cornwall they were forced to flee his wrath. They were living in a wood and King Mark came upon them fast asleep with Tristan’s sword between them. King Mark realised the lengths to which they had gone to guard their love for each other, and so left them alone and forgave their treachery.
Having somewhere safe to sleep is really important for our puppies. They come from their original home where they lived with their mum and their siblings to move into their home with you where no such comfort exists. Puppies in a litter often sleep in a puppy pile, close comfort for each other. The way they regulate their temperature is to move away from the pile when they get too hot.
Studies have shown that dogs are able to relax more deeply and sleep more soundly in the presence of others (Kortekaas & Kotrschal, 2020). This led to lower arousal levels and better coping mechanisms for loud noises. Sleep is required for keeping emotional health functional, and a lack of sleep has an influence over emotion-related behaviours (Bolló et al., 2020). It therefore makes sense that to prevent behaviour problems from developing in our puppies we should ensure they feel safe while they sleep and get a sufficient amount.
When she first came to live with us, her and Tristan were not kept together, so I slept in the room with her. This meant that when she felt the need to toilet I could quickly get her out to help her toilet training. If she felt she needed reassurance about anything, I was there to comfort and soothe her. If she was thirsty, she could toddle off to get a drink. It’s not forever.
Puppies need a LOT of sleep. We built it in to Isolde’s routine. When I was working on the computer, she had the opportunity to sleep, but I was still nearby to attend her needs. We played games, did some training and had exercise built into her routine, but always before she was due to sleep things were kept calm, arousal levels were kept low and sleep was much easier.
It wasn’t long before Isolde could sleep through the night. And now she has her knight to keep her company. Tristan didn’t need as much sleep as Isolde, but as they get older, her needs are decreasing and his increasing.
If you need help with activities to help you build a routine for your puppy, please feel free to get in touch. I can offer one-off sessions or a block of six puppy sessions on an individual basis in your own home.
Bolló, H., Kovács, K., Lefter, R., Gombos, F., Kubinyi, E., Topál, J., & Kis, A. (2020). REM versus Non-REM sleep disturbance specifically affects inter-specific emotion processing in family dogs (Canis familiaris). Scientific Reports, 10(1), 10492
Kortekaas, K., & Kotrschal, K. (2020). Social Context Influences Resting Physiology in Dogs. Animals, 10(12), 2214.
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Lorraine Smith is behind Train with Lorraine dog training; training with science and empathy.