Us human beings, we dream when we fall asleep. Sometimes we wake up remembering what we dreamed about (for me, this happens most often after I take a nap, rarely after a night’s sleep), while other times we wake up having no clue what went through our complex head. But, when it comes to your dog, do dogs dream in general? Does your dog dream when they fall asleep?
You might have run into an instance where you suddenly hear your dog whimpering in the background, and you move to check on them and see that they’re asleep while moving their body around unconsciously (even waving their paws possibly towards something they’re dreaming about), growl or twitch . That’s completely normal and should not be something that causes you to panic or worry at all, as that’s just what they do when they’re sometimes dreaming (so science has us believe).
So, given the fact that us humans make noises, move around and even sometimes talk in our sleep when we’re having dreams, does the same apply to dogs? Do they only whimper, move around and make noises when they’re dreaming in their sleep? According to the information that’s available as of this writing, dogs do dream!
But how do dogs dream? Why do dogs dream? And what do dogs dream about? That’s what we’re going to be talking about today, so read on!
Why Do Dogs Dream?
First off, scientists believe that the human brain and the dog brain (while they do have many differences ofcourse) are similar in more ways than one. And one of those similarities is the brain’s ability to dream.
Moreover, scientific evidence gives us many reasons to believe that dogs enter into similar sleep stages as us humans do. One of those stages is called the “deep sleep” stage, where all the magical dreaming happens, along with all the unconscious bodily movements and noises that accompany the dreams.
Last but not least, scientific evidence confirms that rats (which are much less intelligent than dogs) do in fact dream, which really weakens the possibility that dogs, with brains that are much more complex and intelligent than those of rats, do not dream.
What Do Dogs Dream About?
Unfortunately, and since dogs don’t speak words we can understand, we can’t entirely tell for a fact what dogs are dreaming about. But, you can bet that thanks to beautiful science, we can have a close enough estimate!
Do you remember what the last thing you dreamed about was? We often dream about things that roam our unconscious mind, things that we think about all the time but don’t talk about or, simply, just things that we recently did during the day. Funnily enough, just like we humans dream about human stuff, dogs dream about dog stuff!
So, what do dogs dream about you ask? According to studies, your dog is most probably dreaming about something like finding a jackpot of their favorite treat, saving you (their beloved owner that they cherish oh so much) from someone attacking you, and playing around with a doggy friend that they’ve missed and haven’t seen since so much.
Again, our brains and dog’s brains are similar in more department than one, and this is one of them. So, just like we dream about things that go on in our lives, dogs dream about things that go on in theirs!
Check out this video that shows you a dog dreaming!
Now, check out this cute video of a dog dreaming about digging. How cute is that? 🙂
How Much Do Dogs Dream?
It is believed that dogs smaller in size dream more often than their larger counterparts. So, this means that if you have a puppy, you’re much more likely to encounter them dreaming than if you have a more mature dog which is larger in size. Why? It’s not entirely confirmed, but it’s believed that this may be due to the fact that younger dogsare going through all of these new experiences for the first time and are trying to process them as much as they can, while older, more mature dogs (which will obviously be bigger in size) have already processed these experiences in their lives.
Do Dogs Have Bad Dreams?
I’ve been asked alot of times if dogs have bad dreams or not. Since we’ve established that dogs dream about the things that go on in their lives just like we dream about the things that go on in our lives, there’s no reason at all to discredit the fact that dogs do indeed have bad dreams/nightmares. Now the nightmares they experience are not necessarily on the same level as the ones we experience, it’s more likely that their nightmares revolve around real physical dangers they come across during their lives, while our nightmares are more complex than just physical dangers we experienced during ours.
Do Dogs Have Wet Dreams?
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’ve heard this question being asked many many times (much more than I’d be comfortable with really), but hey, it’s a viable one so I thought about answering it here! Just as we humans have pleasant dreams and dogs do too, and just as we have nightmares and dogs do too, it’s also assumed that dogs may in fact have sexually satisfying dreams! So, if you have any doubts about something your dog might be going through during their sleep, now you know! 🙂
Do Dogs Dream In Color?
Unfortunately, science has yet to come up with a way to tell whether dogs perceive colors in their dreams. Until someone invents some sort of machine that allows us to watch the dog’s dream as it’s happening, or until someone manages to get dogs to speak a human language, there’s just no way to tell.
How To Tell If Your Dog Is Dreaming
So, how exactly can you tell if your dog is dreaming or not? Real simple. The next time they start to sleep, start watching them. As they slowly move into deep sleep (which is about after 20 minutes), your dog should start dreaming. You will be able to notice from these signs:
The twitches and movements they start to make (most common of which is quick leg movement), nose twitches where they try to sniff something they encounter in their dream, their increasingly irregular breathing patterns, the rapid eye movements from left to right they start to make if you look into their eye-lid crack close enough, and the odd sounds they start to emit.
Should I Wake Up My Dog From Dreaming?
It’s preferable that you don’t wake your dog up when they’re dreaming, because of the following reasons:
- You can shock them, which is something you never want to do with your dog.
- You can degrade their quality of sleep, which will keep them irritated and lethargic.
- You can damage their sleeping patterns.
- You should let your dog explore things in their dreams like they’re meant to!
With that said, if you see something very abnormal going on with your dog when they’re asleep and dreaming and you just have to (and save this to when you ABSOLUTELY have to) wake them up, the last thing you want to do is to aggressively shake them out of it. Please don’t. Keep the following in mind instead:
- Do not touch them. Until your dog is fully awake, do not touch them at all. If you choose to wake your dog up by touching them, you put yourself at a huge risk of being attacked or bit, no matter how much your dog loves you or how well you trained them. By waking up a dog with contact, you’re shocking them back into the real world from the imaginary one they were in, so you should expect bad things when you do that.
- Speak gently. Instead of using an aggressive tone when waking up your dog from sleep (which will often result in an aggressive reaction from them as well), call their name out with a very soft, gentle and warm tone to ensure they transition as calmly as possible from their dreaming state to the state of reality.
- Hug them after they wake up. Only when your dog has completely transitioned from the state of dreaming to the state of reality again can you hug them. And you should. Why? When you intentionally wake up your dog from sleep, they’re still at a disconnect with reality, and it takes them some time to realize what just happened. By hugging them, you’re letting them know that everything is okay, you’re right their to protect them and they are safe.
My Jack Russell Terrier, Sadie, runs in her sleep. She doesn’t bark but she often cries and whines.