We’ve all witnessed it… our dogs are laying peacefully, curled up, sound asleep. Then all of a sudden, out of the silence, and little cry, or a yelp, or a soft bark. Maybe even a growl. You glance over, and you see those legs running a mile a minute, going nowhere. Maybe the face bunches up, the ears twitch, the tail swishes. Watching a dog dream is one of life’s simplest – but greatest – pleasures.
But what do dogs dream about? What’s going on in that brain when they’re asleep and dreaming?
Let’s have a little fun today!!
What Do Dogs Dream About?
Scientists now know that dogs experience multiple sleep stages during a standard sleep cycle, and during REM sleep (rapid eye movement), they dream just like we do, complete with twitches and whimpers. To assume otherwise is just silly.
Some dogs dream more than others. Small dogs and puppies tend to dream fast and often, with perhaps 60-second dreams every ten minutes or so, whereas bigger dogs seem to have longer dreams – as long as five minutes! – with an hour of non-dream time between dreaming sessions.
So what do dogs dream about? While we know for sure they dream, we actually have no idea what they’re dreaming about. There’s no way to tell, and although experts speculate, there’s just no real way to tell.
I, obviously, like to think they’re dreaming about me, and the fun things we do together. That makes me all mushy inside. And I’m probably not far off. Experts agree that they likely dream about typical doggy things – chasing frisbees, running in the forest, swimming, running after squirrels.
Do Dogs Have Nightmares?
If dogs dream just like us, does that mean they can have nightmares just like us? Again, because we can’t know for sure what they’re dreaming about, we can’t exclude nightmares from the list of potentials.
And assuming they sometimes dream less-that-pleasant dreams makes sense. There are times when our dogs cry, or whimper, in their sleep – things they would only do if scared. To think that they’re making these noises in a happy way just doesn’t really fly in my mind. So, as much as we may not like to admit it, there’s a very good chance that they have bad dreams as well as good ones.
Should you wake your dog in that case? It might be tempting to ‘save’ your pup from a bad dream, but it’s probably best to, as the saying goes, let sleeping dogs lie. Even the most docile dog can be startled when woken up from a bad dream, and you probably want to avoid that as much as avoiding the dream itself. Plus, some dogs may even react to being woken up from a bad dream, and that could be a risky situation. So, rather than waking your pup up from a nightmare, allow them to awaken on their own and soothe them then.
We can’t definitely answer “what do dogs dream about,” but does that really matter? Whether they’re running through a field of wildflowers or playing with their best friend (you, of course), a dream is just a normal behaviour we share with out canine companions.