What Do Dogs Dream About?
Have you ever observed your dog twitching around and even barking while asleep?
Incidents like these might make you wonder whether or not your dog dreams, and if so, what kinds of dreams that would be.
Recently there has been sufficient research on this topic and I'm going to share this information with you.
Do Dogs Dream?
Most people are of the opinion that dogs do dream.
They've watched their dogs twitching, making eye movements or snap at something illusionary in their dream.
This creates the feeling that dogs dream during their sleep.
Researchers have found out that the brain of a dog is similar to the human one.
The brain wave patterns of the dog's brain during sleep are similar to those of us humans which only corroborates the idea even further of dogs being able to dream.
The hypothetical finding of canines not dreaming would surprise a lot more since recent studies suggest that even less complex animals than dogs do dream.
Matthew Wilson and Kenway Louie, both at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, gathered data that the brains of sleeping rats behave in a sense that is similar to dreaming.
The collected data makes it more than reasonable that dogs indeed do dream.
What Do Dogs Dream About?
We know that most of the dreams one has at night coheres with what you have been doing during the day.
This also applies to animals, such as rats or dogs.
Researchers have measured the brain activities of rats while they were in the means of running a complicated maze.
Later, those electrical patterns were compared to the data that's been gathered while the rats were asleep.
It turned out that those patterns were extremely similar and so explicit that the researchers could tell exactly where the rat was in its dream inside the maze.
This was a definite proof that the rats were dreaming and memorizing specific details from their awake time.
Because of the higher complexity of a dog's brain and the similarity to other mammals' brains regarding the electrical patterns, it is safe to assume that dogs do dream while asleep.
There has also been a study that suggested that canines dream about familiar dog activities.
In this study, scientists deactivated the brain area called pons which is responsible for suppressing the translation of muscle movement inside a dream to a real-world one.
The dogs started to execute the actions they were doing inside their dreams.
But the dogs only began doing so as soon as they entered the stage of sleep that's confirmed to be associated with dreaming.
It's also been found that if your dog moves alarmingly much during his sleep your dog's brain probably is fine, do not worry.
You can notice these excessive movements when there is a puppy or an older dog sleeping since their pons aren't as developed or efficient as those of adult canines.
The same goes for us humans, in case you were wondering.
So your dog might dream about playing fetch with you or running through the grass with other dogs at the park.
Do Different Dog Breeds Dream Differently?
It's also been found out that the dreams dogs are having depend on their race since it's known that different dog breeds behave diversely from each other.
A sighthound most probably will dream about running as fast as he can and a Doberman Pinscher might pick up a fight with an aggressor in his dream.
There is evidence that large dog breeds generally dream for a longer amount of time and the dreams of small dog breeds are shorter but more frequently than those of larger dogs.
How Do I Know Whether My Dog Is Dreaming?
If you want to determine whether your sweetheart is dreaming or not you can do it pretty easily by observing him.
You will notice that the breathing becomes more consistent the more deeply your dog is sleeping.
It usually takes around 20 to 25 minutes for a regular-sized dog to enter the stage where dreaming begins.
Once your canine is dreaming, you will observe that the breathing has become flat and inconsistent.
You will also be able to recognize your dog's muscles suddenly trembling and his eyes move behind the closed lids.
This is due to your canine actually looking at objects inside the dream.
If your dog is showing these characteristics it's certain that he's dreaming.
This stage is called the REM (rapid eye movement) phase and humans who are awakened during this phase state in most cases that they were inside a dream.
Can My Dog Have Nightmares?
Since the sleep patterns of dogs are similar to those of humans, it is safe to assume that dogs do have nightmares.
Especially if you catch your dog experiencing stress and behaving frightened while sleeping.
If your dog suddenly wakes up and looks as if something scared him, it is also likely that he simply experienced a bad dream.
Signs of your dog having a nightmare could be:
- Strained jaw
- Sweaty paws
- Twitching whiskers
- Whimpering or whining
- Growling or barking
- Heavy breathing
So, if you catch your dog having a nightmare it's best not to wake him up since that could startle your darling and end badly for you.
It's best to simply stay calm and let your dog's dream pass.
You might also want to try to play calming music to your sleeping canine or leave the TV running for some background sound.
As the current state of research suggests, dogs are able to dream and they do so on a regular basis.
You might see your dog twitch or his eyes could move around behind the closed lids what indicates that he's currently in the so-called REM phase of his sleep.
The kind of dreams dogs could have are usually related to their everyday life and also depend on their race.
A Doberman Pinscher might dream of fighting off a burglar and a sighthound could dream of running as fast as he possibly can.
Regular-sized dogs usually enter the REM phase after around 20 minutes of sleep.
You should know your dog is asleep once his breathing becomes more regular.
Once he enters the REM phase his breathing will become shallow and irregular.
You might be able to recognize slight muscle twitches and eye movement behind the lids if you look closely.
Dogs can also experience nightmares as us humans.
If your dog is showing symptoms like a tense jaw, sweaty paws, barking or growling, whimpering or whining, heavy breathing or twitching whiskers, it is safe to assume that your furry darling is having a nightmare.
However, you should definitely not wake your canine up, because that may result in an unpleasant experience for both of you.
It's best to wait it out and let your dog sleep until he wakes up by himself.
Has your dog ever experienced nightmares?
If so, how did you handle it?
I'm looking forward to seeing your comments in the comment section below!