Research has proven that dogs and humans sleep very similarly, with the same sleep cycles, including REM sleep. We know this due to the research that has compared brainwaves of a sleeping dog to the brainwaves of a sleeping human. Therefore, it’s a pretty reasonable assumption that dogs do have dreams.
However, while we do know that they dream, we’re not exactly sure what they are dreaming about. After all, we can’t really ask them. Typically, human dreams are reflective of what we’ve dealt with while we were awake. This leads us to believe that since their sleeping patterns are much like ours, dogs are the same.
Have you ever heard/seen your dog while he is sleeping? The whimpers you are hearing could be reflective of his barking at the delivery man that stopped by. If you notice that his paws are twitching, he could be dreaming about running around in the dog park. While the body is naturally paralyzed during sleep- just as with humans- which keeps the dog from actually running or barking, we can observe small signs that give us clues to what he might be dreaming about.
There is some research that backs up this theory. One study featured in Psychology Today, showed testing done on rats while they were asleep. During the day, the rats were put through mazes while their brain activity was tracked. At night, while they were asleep, their brains were still monitored- and it showed the exact activity that the brain did while they ran through the mazes. This strongly suggests that the rats were reliving their conscious lives while dreaming. The brain activity of dogs is higher than that of rats, therefore, if rats are dreaming- so can dogs.
Can Dogs Experience Nightmares?
No one can be sure whether or not dogs experience nightmares- but it’s pretty clear that if they do experience something that scares them, it may carry over to their dreams as well. If you believe that your dog may be having a nightmare, you must avoid waking them up. Dreams occur during the REM phase of sleep, which is when they are getting the most rest. If you wake him up, it will most likely cause him to be confused and keep him from getting the sleep that he needs. If you notice that your dog seems to be having distressing dreams on a regular basis, you may want to consider speaking with your vet for some solutions.
If you have ever thought that your dog experiences vivid dreams, chances are that you’re most likely right. Dogs do have dreams and it most likely reflects the things they experienced throughout the day. So, next time you notice that your dog seems to be dreaming, consider what he did that day to try to figure out the subject of his dreams.
We know that dogs dream- science has proven that their brain activity is much like ours. Chances are that your dog is dreaming about his adventures from the day. Sit back and let him get the sleep he needs.