Dogs are a lot like humans. If you’ve had a stressful day, it’s likely that your sleep that night won’t be the greatest.
But not much research has been done on canines and the effect of stress on their sleep.
A study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B looked at the sleep quality of 16 adult dogs after they had either a positive or negative experience. The dogs that participated in the study were retrievers, vizslas, and mixed breed dogs.
The positive experience consisted of six minutes of tug of war, playing fetch or being petted by their owners. The negative experience consisted of being tied to a door by their leash and then ignored or being approached by a strange researcher who made threatening direct eye contact but who said nothing.
After this both groups of dogs were allowed to go to sleep wearing EEG brainwave sensors while their owners filled out a canine personality questionnaire on their dog.
The dogs who had the negative experiences only got 40 to 50 minutes of deep REM sleep but the dogs who had the positive experiences got about an hour.
Also, the dogs who scored high on playfulness and who were naturally more extroverted didn’t show as much of a negative reaction to the stressful situation as more introverted dogs.
So, if your dog has had a bad day, try talking softly to him and stroking him gently before bed. This will stimulate the release of the hormone oxytocin, the “feel good” hormone and help him to get a good night’s rest.
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