Dogs are indeed man’s best friend. As humans, we cannot help but sometimes wonder what goes on inside their precious heads. Seeing their cute paw jerks and twitches and hearing their adorable borderline-bizarre woofs, could it be that they are taking a trip to Barkland in their sleep? Witnessing this scene ultimately begs the question: do dogs dream?
What's Inside a Sleeping Dogs Head?
Do dogs dream?
First, it is important to establish the scientific stance on dreams: humans dream as electrical impulses remain or become active during sleep.
Using this analogy, researchers employed similar techniques of sleep monitoring on our furry chums to find out whether their charming sleep time antics are manifestations of dreams or something else.
Scientists used an electroencephalogram (EEG) to test for and monitor our canine companions’ brain wave activity during sleep. The results are what humans have always thought and hoped for: we are more similar than our furry friends as they, too, dream.
Dog sleeping patterns & dreams
Scientifically speaking, human beings go through different stages of sleep. Moreover, dreams usually form and happen at a specific phase in the sleep cycle when the brain is most active. Interestingly, the same holds true for dogs too!
Like humans, dogs go through a stage of sleep called the Rapid Eye Movement or “REM.” During REM sleep, one may notice the beginning of sound irregularities in a dog’s breathing pattern. Furthermore, a dog’s eyelids begin flickering, and one may see that its eyes will start moving rapidly, hence the name of this stage of sleep.
As with humans, dog dreams are most likely to happen during REM sleep as well.
Signs your dog is dreaming
The first sign to check whether a dog is dreaming or not is the rapid movement of the eyes coupled with irregular breathing patterns. Specifically, a dog is likely in a dream state if it has entered a deep stage of sleep or REM. Since REM sleep does not happen instantaneously, dreaming more likely occurs during a good night’s sleep than a quick afternoon power nap.
Moreover, there is reason to believe that dogs also react and respond to dream content or images during their sleep subconsciously. Thus, it is not uncommon to hear growls, whimpers, whines, or purrs when they are sleeping. Dogs also twitch or shudder, make leg movements as though they are running, or even bark in their sleep — other signs that they are dreaming.
What do dog's dream about?
After confirmation from many scientific research studies and experiments that dogs, in fact, dream, the discussion now shifts to the most intriguing question of all: what can dogs be dreaming about?
This explanation may sound anticlimactic, but until humans can see through inside their heads or learn how to decode and interpret barks into an understandable, human language, no one can ever know what our furry friends dream about, let alone what they think.
But, maintaining an analogy with humans, it is possible that dogs relive their daily experiences or act out their usual favorite activities in their dreams, much as humans do. Following this rationale, if your doggo does not like cats and barks at them, and you notice some barking during their sleep, chances are they might be dreaming of their favorite cat nemesis.
Although no one can truly tell what dogs dream about, what is known is that within their sleeping patterns, small dogs tend to dream more frequently than do larger dogs. Studies establish that the length and frequency of dreams may be attributable and linked to the size of a dog. For one, dogs the same size as Toy Poodles show signs of dreaming once every ten minutes. On the other hand, dogs the same size as Golden Retrievers may dream once in ninety minutes.
Is my dog dreaming or having a seizure?
As fascinating as it is to know that dogs do dream, humans must be cautious in discerning when a dog might be dreaming as to when a dog might be having a seizure. Although there are similarities between dreaming signs and seizure symptoms, there are ways to differentiate the two.
As established, dog dreams are normal electrical impulses or activities during sleep, probably from reliving the day’s walk in the park or chasing a favorite cat frenemy. On the other hand, dog seizures are abnormal motor responses that also originate in the brain that may present as dreaming-like signs.
Among the similarities of signs between dreaming and having a seizure are muscle twitching and feet paddling. Although characteristic of both phenomena, they differ in terms of presentation. When dreaming, dogs may do gentle twitches that usually lasts for a short time only. Contrarily, during seizures, gentle spasms present as violent convulsions for a much longer time. Moreover, convulsions usually happen in limbs that, by then, have become stiff and rigid. Dogs undergoing a seizure may also drool or foam from the mouth.
Furthermore, differences between the two can be pointed out upon regaining consciousness. A dog waking from a dream will seem fine, if not a little drowsy. Whereas a dog recovering from a seizure is likely to appear disoriented and significantly distressed.
How do you know if your dog is having a bad dream?
Signs that dogs have a bad dream are much like the signs that dogs are having a bad day. On the bottom line, dogs may appear anxious, distressed, or annoyed.
If a sleeping doggo makes gentle leg paddles and adorable noises of excitement, it probably is having a good time in barkland. However, if a doggo makes piercing whining, crying, or growling noises, they might be having a bad dream.
Now, if there is reason to believe that your fur baby is having a bad dream, it might be best not to disturb them and leave them be. Although you may want to wake and comfort them, your doggo might remain disoriented and lash out as though still in a dream state. As a fur parent, you may want to end your fur baby’s menacing dream immediately. But, put in mind that bad dreams will be gone as soon as they wake up.
By now, you still might be fascinated by the fact that dogs do dream. Whatever they dream about, what is important is as humans, we take care of these adorable furry friends and give them the dreamlike life they deserve!