Do dogs dream?
Ever walked in on your sleeping Dog and you see it either whimpering, moving paws in a running motion, wagging tails, eating, growling or engaging in some strange behavior? Could your dog be dreaming? Is that even possible? The answer yes. Dogs do dream just like we do.
Our furry companions do dream and their dreams are similar to ours. Isn’t the fact that your dog’s brain neurons act in the exact same way as ours fascinating? And you wonder why they’re called man’s best friend.
Yes, dogs do dream
Your dog spends half of its life sleeping. According to scientists, there are two types of sleep cycles. There’s the rapid eye movement cycle (REM) and the non-rapid eye movement cycle (non-REM). The REM stage just as the name implies is a stage that makes your eyes roll and move rapidly. As humans, we dream in both the REM and non-REM stage, but the dreams that we remember when we wake up were usually those in the REM stage. Dogs experience REM and non-REM sleep just like we do.
How can we know for certain?
Simple! We know because it has been proven. In 2001, a group of MIT researchers performed observations of the sleeping pattern of animals and discovered that the sleeping behavior of animals is not so different from that of humans.
This discovery was made by training rats and recording brain activity as the rat runs through a circular maze. They recorded the brain activity of the rats while asleep. After comparing both brain activity tests, researchers discovered that the brain activity of the rats, while they were awake, matches the brain activity in their sleep. This observation led to the conclusion that the rats were dreaming about running in the maze while asleep. Since the brain of a rat is similar to that of a dog and other mammals, it was concluded they also were capable of dreaming.
What are the signs that my dog might be dreaming?
We already established the fact that dogs dream. As a curious owner you want to see this amazing action for yourself and you’re looking for signs to watch out for. When your dog is in a deep stage of sleep like the REM stage, then it is very likely that it would have a dream. An indication of REM sleep would be when their breathing becomes irregular and they have rapid eye movement.
Our dreams as humans are not uniformed, they come in different ways and are not the same. It’s the way with dogs. While observing them, you might hear growling, whining or whimpering. Legs movement may occasionally happen. Some dogs may visibly shake and shudder. And some dogs have been known to bark in their sleep, they can bark so loudly that they sometimes wake themselves up! How fascinating is that?!
Related: Best Dog Beds
What does my dog dream about?
Until we can develop a technology that can help us decipher barks into the English language, we can’t really tell what a dog dreams about exactly. However, we can speculate that the dream of your furry companion usually consists of its activities during the day. Your dog is probably reliving these activities during its sleep.
If it is displaying a running motion while asleep, it is probably dreaming about chasing a squirrel. If it’s growling, it’s probably dreaming of the annoying cat next door. If it is barking, it’s probably dreaming about the mailman. If it is wagging its tail, it is probably thinking about you!
The size of your dog also matters when it comes to dreams. Small dogs dream more frequently than larger dogs. According to research the length and frequency of dreams may be proportional to the size of your pooch. A small dog like a Chihuahua may show signs of dreaming once every ten minutes, while a dog the size of a husky may only dream once every 90 minutes or so.
Do they have nightmares too?
As disturbing as it may sound, yes, dogs do have nightmares. You already know that their dreams are based on memories. So, if you own a dog you didn’t raise as a pup yourself, there’s a high chance that it may have nightmares from its past. They may be reliving the trauma they experienced where they went.
Rescue dogs have high chances of having nightmares, especially those who didn’t live in a loving home. For instance, dogs that were bred for fighting may always dream about violence and fear.
What to do when your dog is having a nightmare?
If you notice that your dog is having a nightmare, no matter how tempting it may be to save them from distress, it is best to let sleeping dogs lie. Waking them up suddenly might be dangerous because your pet may not realize that it is awake and may attack you. It’d take a couple of seconds for it to realize who you are and you don’t want to take such chances.
You may be itching to cuddle it and make it feel better but you need to remember that it’s just a dream and that when it is awake, you can give it all the love and comfort that it needs.
Seizure vs Dream
The worst mistake one can make would be to mistake a seizure for a doggy dream. That mistake could be fatal. It can be difficult to tell if your dog is just dreaming or if it is having a seizure. If you notice that the shakes and shudder are taking too long, try waking up your dog. If you can wake it up, then they’re probably having a dream. Some signs of seizure mays include jerking bodily movement, stiffening, drooling, tongue chewing, foaming at the mouth. If your pup exhibits this sign or if it does not come out of its violent state, it is most likely having a seizure. Pick it up and take it to the nearest vet ASAP! Seizures could be fatal for dogs.