The “Street Dogs” in India Have Given Me Much Insight — How to Design a Good Dog Bed!
The “Street dogs” of India pretty much follow similar sleeping behaviors. However, you may see some differences in how they rest depending on the time of day and the role the dog plays in their social group. Dogs tend to get about 5 hours of REM (rapid eye movement which is a deep sleep) in a 24-hour period. Generally this is at night. So at home, when you see your dog lying down in the middle of the day, he probably has one eye cocked open and is still awake.
The “Street dogs” here are very active in the morning and early evening wandering about looking for food and enjoying anything else they may fancy. In the middle of the day, when it gets hot, the majority of these dogs will find a shady spot under a parked bus or Café table. These spots are usually under something and have an escape route so the dog does not put itself into a corner.
For dogs that have “adopted” a territory of a house or store (where they are rarely, if ever, let inside), they may rest a bit differently. Because these dogs are perhaps more territorial, you will find them at the store entrance or on a front stoop. If the dogs are hanging in a group in these territories, there are usually one or two that roost up higher as lookouts to intruders (whoever that might be).
These daytime rest areas tend to be transition spots and not deep sleep areas. The dog may feel the need to move in a flash or potentially defend or protect itself and its territory. For our dogs at home, sleeping patterns can be quite similar. The dog that thinks he is in charge likes to sleep on the couch or at the top of the stairs as a lookout. He may also lie in front of the door controlling access into the territory. The more submissive dog may lay under a table or desk.
So when I think what a domesticated dog would like to rest on during the day, it would appear that it might be a flat pad, blanket or even a simple rectangle bed. This is not a bed for deep sleep, just a place to be comfortable and hang out.
During the night, “ Street dogs “ usually do their deep sleeping. This is when they will go into their dens. They dig holes (often in sand or dirt) that are usually about 2 ½ to 3 feet in diameter and about 1 ½ to 2 ½ feet deep.
The back wall of the hole is the highest, where the front gradually slopes down. The dog will usually put it’s back against the back wall and curl up into a tight ball facing the entrance. In these holes, the dog feels cozy and protected. For these dogs, too big of a hole offers them less protection. The earth literally is hugging them. On occasion you will also find a dog in these holes during the day, but this is usually an older dog, or mother with her puppies. As I walk on the beaches or countryside in India, these holes are all over. So most dogs instinctively like to curl up and sleep (The exceptions are the heavy coated or giant breeds that during the warmer months like to sprawl out trying to stay cool). So when you look at what kind of bed your domesticated dog might like to sleep in, consider the donut or lounger beds. These beds resemble the dirt holes, have a bolster around the sides and are deep allowing the dog to sink down and feel almost protected.
When finding a bed location in your home for your dog to sleep, I always recommend you put the bed in a corner out of the way or underneath a table or nook of a desk. By placing your dog bed in these spots, your dog will feel more secure and will tend to bark less and sleep more deeply.