Do Dogs Dream?
Many dog owners may have observed their dog yipping and twitching in their sleep. While sometimes comical to witness, it does suggest dogs dream just like we do. This Holidays4Dogs article asks the question ‘ dog dogs dream?’ and, if so, what might they dream about?
From a structural point of view, it has been found that dog’s brains are very similar to that of humans. In addition, brain wave patterns are also much the same in dogs as they are in people. In other words, a dog’s brain goes through similar stages of electrical activity.
This, therefore, correlates with the notion that dogs do dream in the same way that humans do. Since scientific evidence also suggests that much simpler creatures than dogs are capable of dreaming, it doesn’t seem so hard to accept that our four legged friends experience them too.
REM sleep stage.
Researchers have conducted studies which included monitoring the brain activity of dogs while they are sleeping and results in one study found that dogs show signs of physical movement such as, eye flickering and limb twitching, when they are in the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep.
These findings show that, like us, dogs have two stages of sleep – slow wave sleep and rapid eye movement – the latter being the stage where the body becomes completely relaxed, while the brain is in a stage of heightened mental activity.
The REM stage of sleep is just the same in humans and indicates the dog is experiencing images relating to the world around him. In the same way that a person might twitch, or mumble, while they are in a period of REM sleep, a dog will often react in the same way with low growls, barks and body tremors.
What do dogs dream about?
The question we often ask, when we watch our dogs snoozing, is what they might be dreaming about? It is probably safe to say that dogs don’t have complex dreams in the same way people do.
It is thought that dogs are most likely to dream about simple things such as running, playing and eating. Whether dogs have nightmares, is something we will probably never know.
Lack of sleep.
It is just as important for dogs as it is for humans to have restful sleep, which includes the important state of REM sleep. Studies have indicated that the amount of time a dog dreams is very much dependent on his age and size; so puppies and older dogs tend to dream more.
Also the amount of rest a dog needs will be dependent on his activity levels during the day. It is wise not to wake a sleeping dog – especially when he appears to be dreaming. There are dangers associated with disturbing a dog – or human – when they are sleeping.
It is not uncommon for humans to react in odd ways when they are suddenly woken from a deep slumber. We may even lash out, or feel momentarily confused.
The same is true for dogs and figures show that a high percentage of children are bitten after waking a sleeping dog. This is not a suggestion of an aggressive dog, but is a normal reaction.
As the old saying goes it is best to, “let sleeping dogs lie”.
Next time you watch your dog yapping and twitching during their sleep, remember this is perfectly natural behaviour and he is probably dreaming about chasing his pals around the field, or the neighbour’s cat down the road.