16 March 2022
Most pet owners can report having experienced a moment where their dog was resting and then suddenly began kicking and barking in their sleep. Were they dreaming? Can dogs even dream? Let’s find out!
Yes, scientists have discovered that like most vertebrates, dogs do in fact dream. In fact, they have similar sleep cycles to humans, including REM (rapid eye movement), and non-REM sleep cycles. Within 20 minutes of your dog falling asleep, you may observe your dog’s breathing become shallow and their eyes begin to move quickly under their lids as well as muscle twitches; they are likely dreaming.
Scientists believe that dogs dream about their day. They may dream about chasing squirrels or eating their favourite meal. Interestingly, dogs don’t only dream about what they did throughout their day. Dogs will sometimes dream about things they enjoy or will instinctively do throughout the day. For instance, your dog may dream about going to the dog park, even if you haven’t brought them to the dog park in a while. Similarly, just like humans, dogs can have doggy nightmares. A trip to the groomers or a checkup at the vet could be on your pup’s mind.
In fact, you may have observed your dog have a nightmare before. Whether they were whimpering or barking, it is sometimes easy to spot when our dogs are having a bad dream and it may be tempting to wake them up. However, it’s important to note that, like us, being woken from a scary dream can be disorienting and may take them a few moments to come back to reality. This can be dangerous if your dog is frightened and responds with aggression. Always ensure to educate young children about this to avoid any accidents from happening.
Yes, it most definitely can! It was observed that different breeds have different responses to dreaming. Small breeds tend to have shorter, more frequent dreams. Ironic, we know! Larger breeds such as Dobermans tended to have less frequent, but longer dreams.
Yet another thing you and your pooch have in common: the ability to dream. How wonderful!