Have you ever watched in curiosity as your sleeping dog suddenly begins moving his legs or tail, whimpering, barking or participating in some other odd behavior? Dog owners, veterinarians and scientists alike have long believed that dogs dream while they sleep–and many have even speculated on what these dreams may be about. Studies have indicated that your canine companion may indeed dream while they sleep–and there may even be evidence to suggest what they dream about.
5 Things to Know About Doggy Dreams
1. Dogs have sleep patterns that are similar to humans. These sleep patterns include stages of wakefulness, rapid-eye-movement, or REM, sleep, and non-rapid-eye-movement sleep. It is during the REM stage, about ten to twenty minutes after falling asleep, that humans dream and researchers suspect that this is also the stage during which dogs dream.
2. Dogs likely dream about their owner’s face and smell, as well as what they can do to please or annoy them. According to Harvard psychologist Dr. Barrett, dogs are very likely to dream about those things that they are interested in during waking hours. Since dogs normally form very deep, loving bonds with their owners, it naturally follows that their dreams would center around their owners.
3. Dogs likely replay moments from their day while they sleep. Scientists believe that dogs are very similar to humans in that they review various moments and events of their day while they are sleeping.
4. Watching a specific dog dream can yield clues about their breed. Researchers discovered that a Pointer who is dreaming may move like they are searching for game and going on point, while a Springer Spaniel may move like they are flushing an imaginary bird from cover.
5. Size can matter when determining how frequently dogs dream. Researchers believe that smaller dogs may dream more frequently during a single night, with a new dream occurring roughly every ten minutes, while larger dogs may dream less frequently during a single night. It is also believed that puppies and senior dogs tend to dream more frequently during a single night.
If you think your dog may be dreaming, the best thing you can do is leave them be. As you may already know, being disturbed during your REM sleep stage can be startling at best, and frightening at worst. A startled or frightened dog may bite unintentionally, which can be horribly upsetting to both dog and owner.