What do dogs dream about when asleep? Dogs’ dreams mirror their daily life, but it is not always full of bliss and good belly rubs.
Find out what types of dreams your pooch can have whilst sleeping. You will also learn the possible explanations experts came up with about them.
Dreams Do Not Only Happen to Humans
Researchers have speculated that dreams can occur in all vertebrates and even some invertebrates, such as fruit flies, not just humans. Although this theory is yet to be definitively proven, some studies have been made to test its possibility.
One particularly famous research showed that rats dreamed about running in a maze. Scientists observed that whilst rats are asleep, they show a distinctive brain pattern, which is closely similar to the brain patterns they exhibit when exploring a maze fully awake.
So if we contemplate: “Do dogs have dreams?” this speculation might not be far from the truth. According to experts, canines are more intellectually complex than rats; thus, there is even a larger possibility that they experience dreams too.
Dogs Have Complex Dreams As Humans Do
What do dogs dream about when they sleep? It is uncertain what dogs dream about when asleep. However, according to researchers, their dreams may be elaborate re-enactments of the fun and memorable activities they do in their daily life.
For instance, a dog that loves chasing down balls and playing fetch might be dreaming of this very same thing. A pooch’s breed may also affect what type of dreams he will have.
Many dog lovers are curious to know: “What do dogs dream about when they bark?” There is no way to precisely tell what dogs dream about when they bark.
But as we have said earlier, it could have been brought on by an enjoyable moment they experienced when they were awake.
Another most-asked question is: “Do dogs dream about their owners?” Yes, dogs may dream about their owners.
Most of their waking life is spent with their human companions; hence, pooches may dream about the wonderful times they have spent together.
Factors Affecting the Frequency of Dog Dreams
How often dreams occur in dogs is influenced by several factors. Let us look into them to find out which pooches are more likely to have dreams than others.
According to Stanley Coren, a professor at the University of British Columbia, smaller dogs are visited by dreams more frequently but with shorter durations. On the other hand, large dogs experience fewer but longer dreams.
Puppies tend to dream more than full-grown dogs. Their young minds acquire so much new information about their surroundings every day. Hence, when it is sleeping time, their brains have plenty of things to process.
Dogs that often take short naps throughout the day have fewer chances of dreaming since they do not reach REM sleep. The same applies to pooches that are light sleepers.
Canines that have a habit of sleeping through the night frequently go into many sleep cycles and reach deep sleep; thus, they end up having dreams. Dogs that work all day often experience REM sleep and dreams too.
How Dogs’ Brains Enter Into a Dreaming State
The structure of dog brains is quite similar to human brains. Hence, both canines and humans go through the same sleep patterns as well as similar stages of the sleep cycle, namely non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
During REM, dogs go into deep sleep, where they are highly likely to experience vivid dreams. That’s because when they enter this stage of the sleep cycle, their brain activity mirrors that of when awake.
Around this time, they have a heightened mental activity, which provides them with peculiar sleep imagery.
REM sleep usually begins when dogs are 20 minutes into their sleep, and it may last for up to 2–3 minutes.
Dog dreaming noises such as whining, snarling, and whimpering tend to occur during this period. Involuntary movements such as twitching and shaking are also signs that your dog is dreaming.
Dreams vs. Seizures
Many concerned dog owners have asked: Is my dog dreaming or having a seizure? A dog twitching in sleep can be easily mistaken as having a seizure. However, there are many critical differences between the 2.
The twitching of dreaming dogs only lasts for a short time, whilst it happens for more extended periods on canines with seizures.
Other warning signs that your pet is having seizures and not dreams are:
- Excessive drooling
- Foaming at the mouth
- Abnormally stiff and rigid limbs
- Urinating or defaecating whilst twitching
Moreover, your dog will feel very disoriented and distressed after his seizure subsides. The manifestation of these symptoms requires an immediate trip to the vet for proper treatment.
Nightmares Can Visit Dogs Too
Do dogs have nightmares? Sadly, the answer is yes. Dog dreams are not all sunshine and rainbows, as nightmares can take place too. Their sleeping brains can relive traumatic events that happened in the past, resulting in bad dreams.
In connection to this topic, let us answer the question: What do dogs dream about when they cry? There is no definitive way to know what dogs dream about when they cry. However, this vocalisation may be brought on by dog nightmares.
Unlike humans, dogs cannot construct imaginative monsters. Thus, their bad dreams are rooted in reality.
It could be caused by something seemingly minor such as the fear of bath time or the sound of thunder. Or it could be a more harrowing event, like suddenly getting attacked by another dog.
How to Wake Up a Dreaming Dog
Should you wake a dog from dreaming? Whether or not you wake up a dog from dreaming depends on his body cues. If he is twitching or whimpering softly, you can try gently shaking him awake.
However, do not attempt any physical contact if your dog is acting aggressively whilst asleep. Touching may cause him to bite you out of alarm.
Instead, try calling his name to wake him up from his nightmare. In most cases, it would be safer to just let his bad dream pass.
The best way to keep your pooch from getting nightmares is by providing him with a happy and loving home. By doing so, his dreams will mostly be filled with fun and unforgettable memories with you.