The 10 Most Frequently Asked Dog Questions: Do Dogs Dream?

January 3rd, 2017

Do you ever wonder if you have the same questions as other dog owners? There are frequently asked dog questions cycling around the internet all the time, and you might think yours are strange, uncommon, or maybe just idle curiosities. Over the next 10 posts, we’ll be listing and answering the most frequently asked dog questions.

dog-dreamingSo what did Google tell us was the number two more frequently asked dog question?

Do dogs dream?

Your dog is fast asleep, when suddenly he starts whimpering, moving his legs or tail, or engaging in some other odd behavior. Could your dog be dreaming?

Scientists think so—in fact, they believe that dogs not only dream as we do, but also that they dream similarly to us, meaning that they replay moments from their day while they’re fast asleep.

How Do We Know Dogs Dream?

Back in 2001, Researchers at MIT trained rats to run a maze and measured their brain activity. Later they measured the brain activity while they were in rapid-eye movement sleep, the sleep cycle in which humans experience dreams. They found that the brain activity was the same as when the rats were running, leading researchers to conclude that the rats were dreaming about the maze they ran earlier that day.

How Can We Tell a Dog is Dreaming?

Dogs often bark or twitch their legs during REM sleep, the Sleep Foundation reports. But sometimes, watching a dog dream can be indicative of his breed. “Researchers found that a dreaming Pointer may immediately start searching for game and may even go on point, a sleeping Springer Spaniel may flush an imaginary bird in his dreams,” AKC Family Dog columnist Stanley Coren explained in Psychology Today. Coren also advises that owners who are curious to know if their dogs are dreaming to simply watch them beginning about 10 to 20 minutes after they fall asleep. If you can see their eyes moving behind their eyelids, they’ve begun to dream.

How Often Do Dogs Dream?

When it comes to how often dogs dream, apparently size matters. According to Coren, small dogs, like Chihuahuas, tend to dream more often during one night, with a new dream about every ten minutes, than large dogs. Vetstreet further reports that puppies and senior dogs dream more often than middle-aged dogs.

What To Do If Your Dog is Dreaming?

If you notice your dog having a dream, follow the old adage “let sleeping dogs lie.” Disrupting his sleep during the REM cycle can be startling (think about how you feel waking up from a dream), which can result in an unintended bite or, at the very least, a sleepy dog in the morning.