Dogs are very similar to humans. They also get hungry, get angry and love to cuddle, and get stunned when someone else shows up at the door. However, when it comes to dreaming, did you ever wonder what dogs dream about? Do they dream at all?
The answer is straightforward. Yes, even dogs dream, and their brains process the same way as human brains. Even the human brain and sleeping dogs’ brains have the same electrical activity stages, so dogs dream.
Every living mammal in the world undergoes the rapid eye movement (REM) stage and experiences complex dreams. The canines enter the REM stage for two to three minutes. Dogs can experience vivid dreams in this shorter period. During this time, they replay the activities they had been doing in their waking hours just like people dream.
All the complex animals, including cats and dogs, experience dreams about the kinds of stuff they experienced earlier. However, the dog’s size plays a significant role in the size of the dream they will have. Small dogs have shorter dream periods but experience it often, while large dogs have longer dreams but are not so frequent.
Here, the question arises again: what do dogs dream about, and is there any scientific evidence?
Let’s Talk About What Dogs Dream About
Most dogs live more fascinating lives than rats. The brain activity of rats during rat dreams is the same as when rats spend their time awake. So, it proves that rats dream.
Even dogs’ dreams are much similar to human dreams. To discover what dogs dream about, experimenters were performed by disabling the pons in them.
Pons is an essential branch of the brain stem. The pons controls the sleep cycles and the regulation of deep sleep. They are also liable for hindering your large muscles from moving during bedtime.
It would help to thank the pons, which prevents your body from acting out with the bad dreams you were dreaming about.
The researchers found that the dogs went through the same activity in their daily lives in the experiment. It includes running, eating, playing fetch, and chasing rabbits, and all of this is done while fast asleep. Thus, it is found that dogs dream of doggy things.
You may not see these activities with your pup. Dogs undergo movements under sleep because their pons is underdeveloped and less efficient in older dogs. They move a lot in their sleep.
Often, dogs dream about what they have done the entire day, just as humans do. Moreover, dogs may dream about the lessons and commands you give them throughout the day. Also, he may be dreaming about you, asking him to fetch the tennis ball, or about our cuddles. Even puppies need good sleep and sweet dreams to have a healthy memory and retain their information.
When dogs dream, they move a lot, accompanied by jolting, heavy breathing, and sometimes nibbling in the air.
The puppies and the old dogs tend to sleep more than any other middle-aged canines. Dogs devour their time primarily by day sleeping.
Canines sleep between 18 to 20 hours per day, sharing deeper REM. It leads to more dreams for younger puppies and senior dogs.
1. Do Dogs Have Nightmares
A dog may suffer from narcolepsy. It is a disorder that causes the brain to fall asleep suddenly with a noisy sleep cycle. You must have seen your dog twitching or whimpering when dogs are sleeping.
If dogs suffer from narcolepsy during their sleep and have dreams, it is safe to assume that hounds have nightmares. Since this could be the exact opposite, your dog may act aggressively towards you due to disorientation. So, it is highly recommended not to wake your dog up during their nightmares.
Also, it is seen that more than 60 percent of pregnant dogs bite when they wake up abruptly. So, the American Kennel Club advises not awake your dog while dreams occur.
However, you can prevent your dog from having a nightmare by giving him a loving household with a healthy lifestyle. When he lays down to sleep, dogs drift into REM sleep with all the day’s memories.
It is seen that dogs sleep better in familiar locations than humans. In-home, they sleep the best. If you want your dog to have a good night’s sleep and dream good things, you must have a bedtime routine. Please give them a specific spot.
Moreover, your dog will have a better sleep if he undergoes exercise when the sun sets out. Dogs sleep better and longer when the moon is out.
It can be challenging for you to see your dog having nightmares and whimpering in his sleep. However, it would be best if you did not get close to him.
They start growling, baring teeth. So, please don’t go close to them. If you startle the dreaming dog, this can result in accidents.
It is better to call out his name first rather than go close to him. Then when he calms down a bit, you can get close to him and give him a warm cuddle.
2. Do Dogs Dream More Than Others
Generally, the size of the dog determines the longevity of the dream. It is seen that smaller dogs and puppies have shorter dreams, and it also happens frequently. However, they experience slow-wave sleep when dog dreams.
Small dogs can dream for sixty seconds, which can happen every ten minutes. However, the large dogs dream for a more extended period, and they sleep less often. Also, they may have five to six minutes of dreaming and then can sleep for hours without any dreams.
Furthermore, dogs tend to sleep more than human beings. Also, the brain activity of human brains and dog brains are similar and have multiple sleep stages during the standard sleep cycle. The structure of their sleep and dream patterns seems like humans. For this reason, humans are much similar to their canine companions. The stages of a dog’s sleep include wakefulness, eye movement, REM sleep, and Non-Rapid-Eye-Movement sleep.
It is acknowledged that dogs, unlike humans, sleep; dogs spend 23 percent of their time in deep non-REM sleep. Also, they spend 44 percent of their time alert and 21 percent in drowsiness. The remaining 12 percent are in REM sleep. However, even the human brain experiences non-rem sleep.
When asleep and in a deep sleep, dogs can do the doggy things in reality. They may dream of engaging themselves in a fight with some other group of dogs and can harm you if you sleep next to your dog. They may also replay traumatic occasions or dream of being left out or betrayed.
Like humans, dogs sleep both in their REM and non-REM stages. However, they can remember their REM dreams. Also, dogs awaken after their REM dreams and act differently if they have a terrible dream. At this time, your dog needs a nice cuddle and warmth to calm him down. However, you must be sure not to go near him directly, or the dog can harm you, thinking of you as he can experience nightmares.
3. Do Dog Breed Affect DreamingTime
Some pups have super active brains and will dream more often than others. Dog dreaming frequently can be different with breeds or some individuals.
Furthermore, you may see a Great Dane will have more rest, while Chihuahua may have quick dreams in succession.
However, for a dog, the sleeping patterns and the circadian rhythms play a significant role in getting him to the point where dreams occur.
Regardless, it is also seen that light sleeper spend their naptime in Slow Wave Sleep (SWS) and don’t have many dreams.
But, you may see who do not take a nap will have more naptime at night with vivid dreams.
You should treat every animal with love and care. Even for dogs who suffer from narcolepsy, your care and love will keep helping them out of their bad phase. Try to treat your pets with the utmost care so that they dream the good about you and do not have nightmares during their naptime.
If you do not want your dog to suffer from nightmares, you must not let him get a destructive lifestyle.
Gift him a healthy lifestyle and a special place for him to rest.
Also, to know more about what dogs dream about, visit the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Moreover, do not forget to keep a safe distance from your dog while having a lousy naptime. It would be best if you let sleeping dogs lie during this time.
You can even read the Do Dogs Dream by Stanley Coren, a professor at the University of British Columbia, to know nearly everything about the dreams of Dogs.
Content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. Reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students.