Do Dogs Dream
What do dogs dream about? Have you ever wondered? Are they really hunting rabbits, or are they just twitching in their sleep?
While we don’t have all the answers, scientists are taking steps to figure out dog dreams, bringing us one step closer to understanding our canine companions.
Many people believe dogs dream. Most dog owners have noticed that at various times during their sleep, some dogs may quiver, twitch their legs, or may even growl or snap at some sleep-created phantom, giving the impression that they are dreaming about something.
Human brains and dogs’ brains are incredibly very similar whilst sleeping, but what does that mean for the content of our dogs dreams? Vet scientists have conducted studies with sleeping rats and the results suggested they connect their dreams to actual experiences, much like humans. Researchers haven’t conducted a dog specific study. Researchers believe dogs dream about day-to-day activities, Like that pesky cat that hangs outside the window or the postman who visits once a day. Research has also suggested that one of the principal things your pup dreams about is you!
Further research has found that dog’s dreams can also depend a lot on their breeding- for example a German shepherd might dream of protecting their family or a retriever might dream of going hunting. Some breeds that love the water may also dream of swimming and make the same paddling motion in their sleep.
As a dog owner, it is quite interesting to watch your dog fall into a deep sleep and finally start dreaming. As your dog’s sleep becomes deeper, his breathing will become more regular. After a period of about 20 minutes for an average-sized dog, his first dream should start. You will recognize the change because his breathing will become shallow and irregular. There may be odd muscle twitches, and you can even see the dog’s eyes moving behind the closed eyelids if you look closely enough. Your dog’s eyes are moving because the dog is actually looking at the dream images as if they were actual images of the world. These eye movements are most characteristic of dreaming sleep. When human beings awaken during this rapid eye movement or REM sleep phase, they virtually always report that they were dreaming.
Should we wake our dog up when they are in this dream cycle?
Waking our pups up when they are clearly deep in a REM cycle will not harm them however it may startle them. If your dog is prone to surprise fuelled aggression or anxiety, it may be in your best interest to ‘let sleeping dogs lie’. However, if your dog seems distressed or like they are having a bad dream, try gently talking to them or stroking their fur. You can even place your hand near their nose to comfort them with your smell.
Sleep is important
Deep dreaming sleep is extremely important for dogs. Just like in people, dreaming can be very important for creating creating memories and learning. Dogs can sleep up to 16 hours a day (or more!). Give your pup plenty of time to relax and sleep.