Your dog is sleeping, when suddenly his legs and tail start to twitch and he begins to whimper. Is your dog dreaming? Better yet, do dogs dream at all?
Research suggests, yes dogs do dream. In fact, the research suggests that not only do dogs dream, but they also dream a lot like we do. This means that they are capable of replaying moments from the day while they slumber.
How Do We Know that Dogs Dream?
In 2001, MIT researchers trained rats to navigate a maze and measured brain activity. While sleeping, the same rats’ brain activity was measured while they were experiencing rapid eye movement (REM). REM is the sleep cycle in which humans experience dreams. The researchers found that the rats’ brain activity was similar, if not identical to the same brain activity they experienced when navigating the maze. This led to the conclusion that the rats were encountering dreams in REM about the maze they had been navigating earlier that day. This study not only proved that animals dream, but their dreams are connected to everyday experiences.
Due to the fact that rats are less intellectually complex than cats and dogs, researchers can make the assumption that cats and dogs dream all the same.
How Frequently Do Dogs Dream?
With regard to the frequency of dog dreaming, size plays a role. Small dogs like Chihuahuas dream more frequently than larger dogs, with one new dream occurring every 10 minutes or so. Furthermore, Vetstreet reports that senior dogs and young puppies dream more frequently than mid-aged dogs.
What to Do With a Dreaming Dog?
If your dog is dreaming, let the sleeping dog lie. Just like we humans, waking a dog in REM sleep creates a startling effect. This effect can lead to unintentional bites, fatigue, and other minor mishaps, so if it’s absolutely necessary to wake your dreaming dog, do so in a calm manner.