If you’re anything like us, every time your dog whimpers or twitches in their sleep you wonder: what are they dreaming about? More importantly, do dogs even dream? And If so, do they also have nightmares? As pet parents, these questions have always fascinated us, too. After a little digging, we found some answers. Here’s a short guide to dogs and their dreams
Do Dogs Really Dream?
Researchers are confident that they do. It turns out dog brains are more similar to human brains than you might expect. As a result, the dream patterns of dogs are not that much different from ours. Because studies have also revealed that dogs experience the same stages of electrical activity during sleep as those seen in humans, scientists are quite certain dogs do in fact dream.
What Do Dogs Dream About?
The subject matter of human dreams is strongly associated with our daily activities. It would stand to reason, the same would go for dogs. Scientists tested out this theory and found “that dogs dream doggy things . . . Pointers will point at dream birds, and Doberman Pinschers will chase dream burglars. The dream pattern in dogs seems to be very similar to the dream pattern in humans.” Just like in real like, your dog’s dreams are full of running, playing and eating. And, yes—your dog probably dreams about you, too. A lot. (blush emoji). Researchers believe that also like humans, dogs probably experience nightmares as well.
Did you know the size, breed and personality of your dog also determines how they dream? Researchers believe small dogs dream more frequently than larger dogs, but that each dream is relatively short, about 10 minutes in length. Larger dogs experience fewer, but also longer dreams. And puppies and senior dogs tend to dream more often than middle-aged canines.
How to Tell When Your Dog is Dreaming
About 20 minutes after falling asleep, dogs enter REM sleep, the stage at which they begin to dream. If at this point you witness muscle twitches, quiet barking, or eye movement, your dog is likely dreaming. A word of caution, never attempt to wake a dog that appears to be dreaming or having a nightmare. Doing so can startle your pup, causing aggression or even a bite.