Do Dogs Have Dreams & Nightmares?


What Do Dogs Dream About?


Many dog owners have noticed their pets twitching and barking in their sleep, but what are they dreaming of ?

By Rodney Wilson

It’s a phenomenon every dog owner knows well: After a long day of living a dog’s life, the family pet stretches out on the carpet for some well-deserved shuteye, only to start twitching, kicking and uttering muffled sleep barks. And most dog owners, upon witnessing this somnambulant activity, come to the logical conclusion of a canine dream, but is there any truth to this? Do dogs really dream?

Dachshund puppy

A dog sleeping in a bed.
credit: HannamariaH/iStock/Getty Images
Basset Hound
It’s widely believed that, yes, dogs dream.
credit: Silense/iStock/Getty Images

The short answer is yes … probably. Without the emergence of the long-fabled talking canine companion to confirm that dogs do dream, people can only make an educated guess that Fido’s twitchy sleep growls indicate brain activity similar to the human concept of “dreaming.” Luckily, curiosity about dog dreaming is a longstanding topic of study; this educated guess is based on an expansive body of scientific studies and intellectual queries.

Scientific Evidence

Sleepy mastiff
Scientific studies support the theory that dogs dream.
credit: Chalabala/iStock/Getty Images

There’s plenty of hard evidence suggesting that dogs do, in fact, dream. For starters, dogs’ brains are structurally similar to humans. Scientists at MIT studied brain wave activities of sleeping dogs to find that canines experience the same stages of electrical activity as unconscious humans. The researchers confirmed dreaming occurs in animals with less complex neurological systems, as studies on sleeping rats suggest the rodents also dream. Interestingly though, frequency varies, with small dogs dreaming more often than large dogs.

What Do Dogs Dream About?

Close-up of a girl sleeping with her dog
Just like humans, dogs likely dream about their daily activities.
credit: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images

What do dogs dream about? Well, what do humans dream about? The most common belief is that animals dream about activities their waking selves participate in, just as a person’s daily activities determine subsequent dreams. Science confirms this belief: The MIT studies observed identical brain activity during sleep as was seen while the rodents performed activities awake. Presuppositions can be made that a dog who experiences fearful situations while awake is more likely to have nightmares.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie?


A dog needs sleep, so let it lie.
credit: berndstuhlmann/iStock/Getty Images

Many pet owners wonder if a dreaming dog needs human intervention when kicking, growling or otherwise experiencing brain activity while sleeping. Sometimes this is based on concern for the dog, other times driven by more selfish motives such as a desire for uninterrupted human sleep. The old adage is the best advice, though: Let that sleeping dog lie. Interrupting REM sleep can confuse the animal and compromises your furry friend’s much-needed sleep cycle.













I can surely confirm that Many, if not all, dogs dream.    My Bella is a hoot when she sleeps downstairs during the day.    Often times she reminds me of the old commercial where the medium sized dog is almost flying through the huge green meadow!   Every muscle in her body is in sync and moving.  Sometimes she makes little whining sounds in her dreams.   It is interesting to note that when we go up to bed for the night after about 1/2 hour of sleep there doesn’t appear to be any dreaming.   She sleeps next to me so any movement or sound would wake me up.  Perhaps being in bed with no distractions allows her to go into a deeper sleep than downstairs curled on the couch with the television on and people talking.    I would love to hear your comments on what you observe in your pup when sleeping and possibly dreaming.     I hope to hear from you all.    Be safe and stay healthy.

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