By Scott Hunt
The Dog Grumbler
YOU know the proverb, let sleeping dogs lie?
I think it’s worthy of discussion and clarification.
It’s not the Bard, you know; he had no love of dogs.
Perhaps the kindest thing he said of them was, “Bulldogs are adorable, with faces like toads that have been sat on.”
It most likely started with Chaucer when he wrote, “it is nought good a slepyng hound to wake.”
Frankly, with no disrespect to either, this is good advice only in some situations.
Here’s an example: a dog is sleeping in the back of a parked ute.
You happen to be passing and think you might like to make friends by leaning in and saying, “Who’s a good boy then?”
Dogs sleep with a hair trigger in some situations and as a stranger, you will be expected to make yourself known from outside a security perimeter.
We can safely assume that Chaucer never had a ute, but I’m prepared to allow that it was this sort of situation to which he alluded.
Or perhaps he meant, “if you wake it up it will gleefully jump all over you and get mud and hair all over your pantaloons.”
But I digress; unless you are a burglar it’s mostly how you wake Rover that will make a difference.
Consider this: dogs need more sleep than us — around 12 to 14 hours a day.
They need deep REM sleep just like humans to get value out of each sleep cycle, but can reach this state a good deal faster than you or I.
Your dog needs this quality sleep, especially if it is learning and experiencing new things while awake, but will expect to take it in instalments.
Generally, a dog in deep sleep will stretch out on its side because when lying on its stomach or curled up, it cannot fully relax its legs.
This is when it may twitch or vocalise as it dreams.
A dog with a full life; a dog whose days are filled with interesting smells, new locations and interactions; a dog who is engaged in the life of its owner or family, needs to grab this kind of rest whenever it can.
A dog with this kind of life, especially an older one, may even choose to stay at home and sleep occasionally because it knows you aren’t going anywhere interesting and it needs to crash.
There is also a great deal of significance in who sleeps where and who moves for whom.
At least one person in the house needs to behave like the boss or your dog will have to do it.
That doesn’t mean you have a key to the executive washroom — it means the dog moves for your convenience.
If Chaucer had understood this he may have said, “thine hound appreciateth a place to sleep uninterrupted but should expect intrusions if it chooseth somewhere that worketh not for thee.”
My dog fits under my bed and there’s a blanket we leave under there for her.
She goes there for quality sleep and I respect her privacy.
If something important happens — gate latch, doorbell, car keys — she will materialise instantly, clear-eyed and ready to rock and roll.
If not, she will be along for dinner.
If she sleeps in a doorway, a hallway, the driver’s seat, my favourite armchair or anywhere between me and where I’m going, she’s moving.
And if she wants to share my bed — well, that’s a whole ‘nother set of rules.