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Do Dogs Really Dream?

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  • 27 October 2017
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  • Pet Wants

Most dog owners are quite familiar with the scenario of their pet being sound asleep, only to suddenly start whimpering, moving its legs or showing some other type of strange behavior. When you see your dog acting this way, it makes sense to assume your pup is dreaming. But is that actually the case? While scientists don’t know with absolute certainty, the majority believe that in addition to dogs’ dreaming being quite similar to humans, dogs are able to replay moments from their day while they’re fast asleep.

Proof of Dogs Dreaming

The proof that dogs dream in a similar way to humans goes beyond the signs we covered above. What’s interesting is some of the proof has to do with rats. Back in 2001, MIT researchers trained rats to run a maze and measured their brain activity. The researchers also measured the rats’ brain activity while they were in rapid-eye movement sleep.

What the researchers found is that the brain activity was the same as when the rats were running. This led the researchers to conclude that the rats were dreaming about the maze they ran earlier that day. Because rats are intellectually less complex than dogs and cats, researchers make the assumption that dogs and cats dream just as rats do.

Specific Signs That a Dog is Dreaming

Although barking or twitching legs are common signs of a dog being in REM sleep, different breeds can have their own unique dreaming habits. For example, a dreaming Pointer may immediately start searching for game and may even go on point. Another fun example is a sleeping Springer Spaniel may flush an imaginary bird in its dreams.

Many experts also believe that dream frequency varies between breeds. Small dogs like Chihuahuas are thought to dream more often during the night, with a new dream about every ten minutes, than large dogs. Puppies and senior dogs also appear to dream more often than middle-aged dogs.

If you want to see if your dog is dreaming, simply watch your pet beginning about ten to twenty minutes after it falls asleep. If you can see your dog’s eyes moving behind its eyelids, your pet has started to dream. And even though all the twitching can make your dog appear restless, as long as it’s still asleep, the best thing you can do is follow the old saying of “let sleeping dogs lie.”

We hope you enjoyed learning more about what your dog may experience as it’s sleeping! And if you want to ensure that one possible dream your dog has is about delicious food, be sure to take a look at the different dog food blends we offer.