Can Dogs Fake Sleep?

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Introduction

Faking being asleep is something that both adults and children have been guilty of at some point or another. Many adults fake sleep if they do not wish to converse with their partner while many kids do it when they want their parents to believe they are sound asleep in their beds. 

While we know that faking sleep is common amongst humans, is it also common in the canine world? Dogs tend to spend a lot of their time sleeping and chilling out. However, when you see your dog apparently dozing away in the Land of Nod, is it really asleep or is it just trying to fool you into thinking it is?

Signs Your Dog May be Faking Sleep

Many dog owners report that their naughty pooches can and do fake sleeping in a bid to either get out of something or because they want to do something that they shouldn’t be doing. For instance, some dogs will pretend to be asleep when they hear the word ‘bath’ because they want to get out of it. However, if you shout the word ‘walkies’ a moment later, the furball will miraculously become compos mentis and be bounding around with bags of energy. This is just one of the signs that indicate your dog has been faking being asleep.

So, what other signs can you look out for? Well, if you walk past your pooch and it has one eye open, then you know that it is not actually asleep. Some dogs even look alert with their ears pricked up when they are pretending to sleep, so this is another tell-tale sign. 

Of course, you do need to bear in mind that your dog may not actually be faking it – there are some dogs that may not be asleep but simply dozing just as humans sometimes do. However, if you have a dog that has quite a naughty nature, you may find that faking sleep is its perfect way of getting out of something – or getting up to something when you are not paying attention. 

While your dog won’t display a lot of body language when pretending to be asleep – this would be a dead giveaway – there are some things that it won’t be able to help. For example, if you mention something that your dog loves while it is faking sleep such as treats or walks, it may start wagging its tail or open its eyes even though it is supposed to be ‘asleep’. Also, look out for your dog opening one or both of its eyes miraculously if it thinks there is something interesting going on or something it may miss out on. 

Body Language

Signs to watch for if your pooch is a sleep-faker include:

  • Alert
  • Wag tail
  • Ears up

Other Signs

There are some other signs that may indicate your dog is trying to pull the wool over your eyes in terms of being asleep. Watch for:

  • Moving around a lot in bed
  • One or both eyes open
  • Quick responses

History of Dogs and Sleep

As with humans and other animals, sleep is vital for the health of your dog. According to historical research carried out over recent years, the average amount of sleep for adult dogs is between 12 and 14 hours per day. So, you can be sure that there will be many cases where your dog is actually fast asleep and not faking it. 

However, research has also shown that dogs can be very cunning when they want to be. If they want to be on their own, don’t want to be disturbed by you or other family members, or there is something that they really don’t want to do (e.g. the dreaded bath), they can easily pretend to be asleep.

Some people have also reported that their dogs have pretended to be asleep for naughtier-than-average reasons such as wanting to escape or slink off to do something they shouldn’t when their owners are not looking. When you think your dog is asleep, you naturally get on with other things rather than paying attention to it. This is the time when the naughtier pooches can get away with all sorts without the beady eyes of their owners watching their every move. 

The Science of Dog Sleep

As mentioned earlier, the average amount of sleep for adult dogs is 12-14 hours per day. However, this can vary from one dog to another and can be affected by the breed, age, health, and energy levels of your pet. 

If your dog does not tend to sleep a great deal but then miraculously starts to feel tired and retire to bed when you mention something that it is not keen on, there is a good chance that it is faking. While this is not always the case, it is worth looking out for some of the signs that your dog is not really asleep. 

Identifying Fake Sleep

Learning how to identify the signs that your dog is faking sleep can be quite useful. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with your dog faking sleep – after all, most of us have done it at some point in our lives – it is well worth knowing whether this is something that your pooch has got into the habit of. 

Doing a test by mentioning something that your dog hates, rapidly followed by something that it loves is a good way to find out. When you do this, you will often find that when you say the undesirable word, there will be no response from your pooch. However, when you then say something that they love, they will leap into action, thus proving that they were never really asleep in the first place.

You do also have to consider that some dogs are light sleepers, so they may respond quickly to something without having faked being asleep. So, you should never assume that your dog has been faking. 

Also, do bear in mind that dogs do need their rest, particularly energetic dogs that spend a lot of time being active. You should never deprive your dog of sleep by assuming that it is pretending and then trying to wake it up. This could result in your dog becoming aggressive or distressed if it really is tired and does not want to be disturbed. A faking dog will sometimes look as guilty at its actions, such as giving you a doleful look when caught out.

In short, it can be tricky to determine whether your dog is faking it or whether it is genuinely tired. However, there are some signs that are a dead giveaway and will help to root the fakers out from those that are genuinely tired or sleeping. 

How to React to Your Dog Faking Sleep:

  • Make sure you determine whether your dog is actually sleeping before disturbing it.
  • Fool your pooch by saying a word that they respond positively to.
  • Look out for obvious signs of faking.