If you have a dog, you will already know that dogs dream, and quite often while they sleep we see them whine, shake, bark, or even move their legs as if they were running. But what do dogs dream about? What do dogs dream of when they wag their tail? And when do they bark?
In a recent study carried out by Harvard Medical School, Deirdre Barretthan conducted research to find out what dogs dream about when they sleep. The conclusion was that dogs dream of the people they love the most and of themselves. They dream about their daily activities and experiences, so if your dog spends the day running, it is quite likely that he/she dreams of it and may appear to run while sleeping.
Can dogs dream?
Although dogs sleep many hours a day, they do not do so continuously. In general, they usually sleep between 13 and 14 hours a day. In fact, a puppy can sleep for up to 18 hours.
The fact is all dogs are constantly in a state of wakefulness or shallow sleep, so they can wake up at any time with any noise, no matter how slight, or even with a smell, especially if they are in a dog kennel or in similar places where the stimuli are greater. Like us, they dream in phases, but theirs don’t last more than 20 minutes.
When dogs fall asleep, they enter into a slow-wave sleep phase that is combined with other, deeper REM sleep phases. It is precisely in this phase that dogs dream. This very moment serves them to embed their experiences and what they are learning in their memory.
What do dogs dream about when they cry?
During the different stages of their lives, dogs sleep more or fewer hours, which influences the number of dreams they have and the type of sleep. On some occasions, you may have noticed your dog cry and it may have worried you. Unfortunately, there is no scientific way to know 100% what dogs dreams of, we can only deduce it from their daily experiences. But it is not advisable to wake them up suddenly either. The best thing to do is to caress them and give your hand to sniff so that they notice our presence and relax.
If your dog barks while sleeping, he/she may be having a bad dream, but it is not possible to be 100% sure. Your dog may just be excited about playing with something new or chasing another dog. What cannot be ruled out is that during the dream your dog has relived a stressful or sad moment.
Can dogs have nightmares?
Surely you have also wondered what dogs dream about when they have nightmares. When this happens, it is normal for them to become restless and start moving their legs, barking, growling, or even crying. It is not recommended to wake your dog during this time. Having nightmares from time to time is the most normal thing in the world, so it should not cause you any concern. However, if it happens more often, it is advisable that you consult your vet.
What do I do if I know my dog is dreaming?
To improve your dog’s rest and for them to enjoy good physical and mental activity, it is important that you find a comfortable place for them to sleep and, above all, that you do not wake them up. Why shouldn’t dogs be woken when they dream? Because it can be disconcerting to them and have a negative response as a reflex action. Keep in mind they do not reason like us, so you have to be more cautious. Of course, if you think that your dog is having a nightmare and you want to wake him/her up, try to do it gently and with great affection.
In short, it is not possible to know for sure what dogs dream about while they sleep, but most research suggests that they dream about their day-to-day activity and about their human family. In fact, it is believed that when they move their legs or make small movements, they may be dreaming that they’re playing or walking. And while so, they can growl, cry, kick or tremble, for example. Something that often occurs especially in puppies.
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