Do Dogs Dream? 5 Tips to Discover if a Dog is Dreaming

If dogs dream is a question that many of us have asked ourselves.
The answer is yes, dogs dream about their owners and many other things!
They also have nightmares, and this stresses them out.
In today’s post, we will give you some tips for you to find out if your dog is dreaming and we will tell you how you can help the dog if it is having a bad dream.

Read on!

Sleep phases in dogs

Dogs have a sleep pattern similar to humans.
In addition, they sleep many more hours a day than we do.

Just like us, dogs go through different sleep phases.
The deep sleep phase is when dogs begin to dream.

There are two main stages or phases of sleep:

1. Slow, short-wave, or NREM sleep

During NREM sleep the dog’s brain is quiet and its body, although relaxed, may move or change position. Heart rate decreases, body temperature drops, and growth hormones are released. During this phase of sleep, the dog does not dream.

Do Dogs Dream? 5 Tips to Discover if a Dog is Dreaming
Photo by Albina White

2. REM (Rapid-Eyes-Movement) Sleep

REM sleep is when the dog sleeps deeply and dreams. Breathing is rapid and irregular, and the dog may become agitated, move its legs as if it were running, and even articulate sounds and bark.
REM stands for “Rapid Eyes Movement” because the eyeballs move rapidly under the eyelids during this phase of sleep. Sometimes this can be easily observed because the dog falls asleep with its eyes slightly open.

The REM phase is the phase during which the dog dreams and picks up a great deal of information from the environment due to the high brain activity it has. In this phase, the level of brain activity is like when the dog is awake.

Discover if your Dog is Dreaming with these 4 Tips!

If you observe that while your dog is sleeping, any of the following behaviors are present, it is evident that your dog could be dreaming.

1.- Hearing a soft growl or a whimper.
2.- He moves his paws while sleeping as if he were running.
3.- Occasional tremors or spasms.
4.- Barking or waking up suddenly startled.

Dogs sleep like their wild ancestors, the wolves

If we talk about how dogs sleep, we inevitably refer to their wild ancestors.
Because they wake up frequently during their rest, just as wolves do, i.e. they alternate sleep with periods of wakefulness.
Dogs spend more time in wakefulness than people during the night and wake up considerably more often.

They sleep for five to twenty minutes at a time, then wake up for another five minutes, and then go back to sleep.
This behavior responds to the fact that the dog still retains many of the behaviors of its ancestor the wolf.
Let’s not forget that dogs are predators (hunters) and need to be alert.
For this reason, their deep REM sleep phase is short-lived and they may wake up quickly if a threat arises in the environment.

Don’t wake up your dog if it is dreaming

Never wake your pet up unexpectedly if you see that it is dreaming.
Wait until it calms down and try to gradually and gently quiet it down.

How to help a dog that is dreaming or having a nightmare?

  • Caress the animal on its side, very slowly, until it gradually notices your presence and relaxes.
  • Call your dog’s name quietly. This causes the animal’s sleep to redirect to something calmer or to come out of REM sleep without abruptness.
    – Once you have awakened your dog, allow it to sleep again. The animal needs to rest and calm down after the startle.
    – If you think your dog may be having a seizure, it is best to call his name. The animal will only wake up if it is in a deep sleep.
Do Dogs Dream? 5 Tips to Discover if a Dog is Dreaming
Photo by Karolina Grabowska

What to do to stop my dog from having nightmares?

The first thing you should do is to keep a record of what time the nightmares occur, what he eats and at what time, as well as the noises in the house at that time.
These details could be useful for a veterinarian to establish the causes of the nightmares and determine if the animal has a serious health problem.
In addition, if our animal does not get enough rest, the lack of sleep could take its toll and affect them physically and psychologically.

Therefore, we must take care of our dog’s resting area and choose a bed that ensures the maximum possible comfort.
On the other hand, it is important to make sure that our pet has a stable life, with an established time routine, because if it suffers alterations during the day or we have a stressed animal, it is quite likely to suffer bad dreams at night.

The meaning of dreams

A dog cannot tell us what his dream has been about, but a human being can discover the meaning of his dreams if he sets out to investigate a little.
If you are interested in dream-related topics and want to find out more about what dreams are and why humans dream, we invite you to read the following recommended articles:

Related articles:

What are dreams and why do we dream about numbers?

About the Author:
Mónica Chacín, SEO Copywriting specialist and author of a
book of reflections and poetry known as “Serendipia de sueños”

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