Dogs are one of the most loving, caring, and loyal pets. They are omnivores and have a lot of other characteristics similar to humans. Humans dream while sleeping. What about dogs? Do they dream? What do dogs dream about? If your dog is dreaming, how would you know that?
Does your four-pawed canine companion also dream just like you? A question that drives your curiosity! Right. So here is the answer.
For the past many years, scientists had no clue what dogs dream about. Even they didn’t know whether animals dream or not until MIT conducted a study on rats. In their study, the rats were run the whole day in a maze and the areas of the brain that were active during the runs were identified.
At night, when the rats were asleep, the researchers noticed that the same brain areas were active. Thus, indicating that rats were dreaming about their whole day’s activity i.e., running in the maze. Hence, they concluded that animals also dream when sleeping including the pooches.
Furthermore, humans and dogs have structurally similar brains. Their brain wave and sleep patterns are also alike which means that a dog’s sleep cycle also has a stage of wakefulness, followed by rapid eye movement sleep (REM) and non-rapid eye movement sleep.
Moreover, it is during REM sleep that pooches have the most memorable and vivid dreams. But what do dogs dream about?
What Do Pooches Dream About?
Just like you, as a pet owner, are curious to know what dogs dream about, scientists also were. To find out the answer, they experimented on dogs by disabling their pons, temporarily, so that they can act out their dreams. Now, you might be thinking what is pons? Don’t google it! Here is the answer.
Pons is a part of the brain stem that controls your doggy’s muscles and manages the sleep cycles. It prevents them from performing what they are dreaming of. By disabling pons during REM sleep, the scientists were able to see dogs acting out their dreams.
And the dreams were all doggy things like chasing a squirrel, playing with the owner, etc. Hence, they concluded that pooches dream of their whole day’s activities.
How Would You Know That Your Dog Is Dreaming?
What do dogs dream about? If you are a new pet owner, how would you know that your dog is dreaming? Have you ever noticed him twitching his limbs while asleep? Does your dog dart his eyes behind the lids while sleeping?
If yes, it means he is dreaming. Twitching, murmuring, sleepwalking, whining, barking, and running are all some of the common symptoms of a dog dreaming.
The twitching of limbs shows that either the dog is running behind a prey, is playing with other dogs, or chasing the tennis ball with which you usually play with your dog.
It is difficult to guess what exactly the dog is dreaming about. But for sure, these sudden movements that you observe and the sounds that canines make when in REM sleep indicate that your pooch is having a dream.
Do Dogs Have Bad Dreams?
As said before, dogs and humans have many common behaviors one being nightmares. Yes! Dogs too have nightmares or what you call bad dreams. They can be so scary that you would want to wake your dog up and give him a tight hug. But what dreams scare canines so much?
Dogs are not as creative as we humans are. They do not dream of scary monsters or zombies. Rather, your canine companions have certain fears like being alone, losing their owners, taking baths, etc.
Sometimes when your dog cries, snarls, growls, barks, or makes painful sounds and suddenly wakes up, it means he was having a scary dream. In other words, your pup recalls his traumatic memories. According to a report, canines that had more traumatic pasts had more nightmares.
Apart from that nightmares can be due to some medical conditions. Experts believe that older dogs’ nightmares can disturb their sleep and they may not settle at night. The reason could be Alzheimer’s. So if your dog does not sleep well or always has a nightmare that keeps on disturbing his sleep, take him to a vet.
Is It a Good Idea To Wake Your Dog From a Bad Dream?
Being an owner, seeing your dog uncomfortable while sleeping because of a bad dream makes you feel bad. You might want to wake him up but you know what? It can be risky. How? Let us explain.
When your dog is having a bad dream, waking him up is not a good idea because he might bite you. He requires a few moments to return to normalcy. Once he comes back to his senses, calm him done. Comfort him with your presence.
On the other hand, if you don’t want to wait for your dog to wake up from the nightmare on his own, call his name from some distance so that he may not hurt you.
Is Your Dog Just Dreaming or Having a Seizure?
It is critical to determine whether your dog is having dreams or a seizure. If you are a new pet owner and do not know anything about dogs, here is a little help for you.
Though the symptoms of a seizure and a dog’s dream might look similar some differences do exists. Seizures are the result of abnormal motor responses whereas dreams are just electrical impulses. In a seizure, the dog’s limbs are twitched more violently and it lasts for a long time. Also, the limbs are more rigid and stiff.
Apart from that, dogs may drool or foam in the mouth while experiencing seizures. Moreover, a dreaming dog is just a little sleepy when he wakes up. On the other hand, the one experiencing a seizure is distressed and disoriented.
Is What Dog's Dream Breed Associated?
The answer is yes. Dreams do have an association with a dog breed. Dogs belonging to small breeds or puppies dream more frequently.
But their dreams are small and last only for almost 60 seconds with a gap of 10 minutes. On the other hand, the dreams of large canines are usually 5 minutes long but are not frequent i.e., there is a gap of an hour between the dream and non-dream session.
Moreover, if you have a guardian dog, his dreams would be related to his whole day activities. Likewise, a Labrador will more likely dream about running behind a tennis ball. So, yes, there is a link between the dogs’ breeds, their daily activities, and their dreams.
Do dogs dream? What do dogs dream about? These are the most common and interesting questions. And the answer is yes. Dogs do dream and they dream about all the doggy things like chasing prey, guarding the owner’s house, barking at intruders, etc.
Some common signs that would tell you that your dog is dreaming are twitching limbs, darting eyes, barking, whimpering, whining, etc. Apart from that, dogs have nightmares too which are traumatic incidents from the past. In such a situation, waking them up while sitting close to them can be risky as the dog can injure you.
Furthermore, the length and frequency of dreams are associated with the dog’s size. Small dogs have more frequent but smaller dreams. On the other hand, large dogs have long but less frequent dreams.