Your kids heard Rover making funny noises in his sleep and now they’ve got serious questions like, do dogs dream? And what do they dream about? The answers to these questions aren’t always clear-cut, but we think we can help. Let’s get the do dogs dream question out of the way first, shall we?
The answer to that question is that we’re pretty sure they do. We’d give an absolute ‘yes’ if we could, but the truth is that, while researchers are fairly confident that dogs dream, there’s no way to prove this with 100% certainty.
Still, the evidence is clear enough for you to explain to your children that Rover was acting the way that he was while sleeping because he was most likely dreaming. Animal researchers have noted that, while our canine companions sleep more than we do, they still tend to have the same general sleep cycles as humans. This includes Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, which is the point where humans begin to dream. Since dogs have also been observed in this sleep cycle — and it is often accompanied with vocalizations like a growl, a groan or even body movements — the answer of do dogs dream seems to be a pretty confident ‘yes’.
Now that you’ve pretty much satisfied that curiosity, your kids will want to know what do dogs dream about…exactly? Well, judging from their actions, we can assume that a dog who is frantically pawing at an invisible something is probably dreaming about digging for a lost bone (or perhaps burying one). A dog who is growling may be facing an adversary in dreamland. One who is excitedly swishing his tail about may be greeting a friend. And one who is moaning may even be experiencing a sad emotion.
Some of you may have seen popular internet videos like the one of the dog running in his sleep or dogs doing other odd things while snoozing. While these flicks may cause a chuckle, for some dogs these actions are no laughing matter. Just like humans do, dogs can also experience sleep disorders, which can be a sign of an underlying health issue.
Not only do dogs dream, but research suggests that some furballs dream more than others do. In particular, small dogs seem to experience more dreams than larger dogs do. No one can explain precisely why this happens, but if your small dog seems to exhibit more signs of dreaming than your larger dogs do, know that this seems to be a pretty normal occurrence for most.
Don’t expect to witness your dog dreaming as soon as his eyes close. In fact, your dog may never even show an outward sign of dreaming at all. Like humans, every dog is different in this regard.
So, when do dogs dream? As previously mentioned, most dream during REM sleep and they can experience several of these cycles during a single rest period. The very first time that this sleep stage is entered into is approximately 10 minutes after the dog falls asleep. You may also find that the dog isn’t as easily awakened by nearby sounds or movements during a REM sleep cycle. Once the mind has fallen into a dream state, it may take a little more effort to pull your pooch back into the present. And again, just like humans, a dog who isn’t allowed to finish a REM cycle, may wake up a little grumpy…so beware.
We’d also like to hear any interesting stories you may have about your dreaming dogs. What kinds of sounds do they make? Do they walk or run in their sleep? Does your little buddy exhibit any particularly odd behaviors during sleep? Do you have a video you can share with us?
So, do dogs dream? Yes, we’re almost positive that they do. With that mystery pretty much solved, what else would you like to know about your pooch’s sleeping habits? Feel free to ask away in the comments section below. And don’t forget that if your little dreamer needs a friend for an overnight stay, our professional pet sitters are just a phone call away.