Most dog owners have experienced this at least once- you’re sitting there lounging on the couch after a long day, trying to unwind. Then, suddenly, you hear some scratching and whimpering. You worry about what is going on- and you rush to make sure your dog is okay. You find him sleeping peacefully- is it possible that he was having a dream?
However, is that really what is going on when your dog is moving around and making noises while he sleeps? After all, the dog can’t exactly wake up and tell us what he was dreaming about, right? While it’s true that we may never get a definite confirmation- there is some scientific evidence that shows that dogs really do dream.
Human & Dog Brains are Similar
While it’s clear that there are lots of differences between the brains of dogs and humans, they’re also quite alike when it comes to the way they are structured. Therefore, it is quite possible that dogs can- and do- dream.
Humans & Dogs Sleep Similarly
According to EEGs, the way humans and dogs sleep is very similar. Just like humans, dogs have a “deep sleep” stage, which is much like REM sleep in humans- with irregular breathing and rapid eye movement. This is the stage where we know that people have dreams. This is also the stage in which you are most likely to hear your dog growling or pawing at the air for what seems like no reason.
Also, in lab tests, it has been proven that rats have electrical activity in their brains similar to that of humans when they are sleeping- even though their brains are much more different than humans and dogs. The real shock would come if science were to show us that dogs don’t dream.
What Do We Know?
While it’s not been 100 percent proven, there are some things that we do know- that is, assuming that the dreams really are happening.
Small Dogs Dream More Often
While the reason is not clear, it does seem that smaller dogs dream more than larger breeds. For example, Chihuahuas and Toy Poodles may experience a new dream approximately every 10 minutes- but a Golden Retriever may only dream once every hour and a half.
It’s Nothing to be Concerned About
While it may be shocking and even scary to watch your dog acting out while he is sleeping, you should be aware that this is completely natural, healthy, and normal.
They Dream of Dog Things
As humans, there is a part of our brain known as the pons, which prevents us from acting out. When this part of the brain was deactivated by scientists in dogs, they started doing things such as chasing other animals, fighting with burglars, and even digging imaginary holes.
So, how can you know whether your dog is having a dream? It’s pretty simple- just watch him after he goes to sleep. If you start noticing strange sounds/movements about 20 minutes in, chances are that your dog is having an adventure.