Do you have a pup who won’t sleep still? Maybe they sleep on their side, legs moving and kicking, mouth twitching, even barking or whining. It leads one to ask: “do dogs dream?” And if so, what are they seeing in their sleep? Enjoying a visit with an experienced Dog Boarder? Chasing the garbage truck? Is it a nightmare?
We’re all curious about what goes on in that little head of theirs as they drift off to sleep. In this article, we’re going to answer the question “do dogs dream?”, and assess what they dream about.
To “do dogs dream?”, the answer is simple: yes!
In a nutshell, dogs do dream! Maybe this isn’t news to you if you’ve seen your dog flat out running in their sleep. The next question, then, is why.
Well, dogs have a brain structure not unlike that of humans – although it’s obviously a bit smaller. And we’ve done extensive studies on how and why humans dream. We still don’t know the why definitively, but most scientists agree that we dream as a way of processing information that we received while awake.
If you learned that you have to give a last-minute presentation tomorrow, for instance, you might dream that you slept through your alarm and someone cut off all of the left sleeves from your work shirts. Not all of our dreams make logical sense, but they tend to be based on what happens in our waking lives.
So, how does this translate to doggie dreams? What do dogs dream about?
Your pup doesn’t have the same complex thinking process that you do, but they still receive information that will need to be stored for future use. Instead of information involving deadlines, responsibilities, and philosophies about life, your dog is likely grappling with things like where they left their favourite toy, the rules about eating out of the rubbish bin, and when they’ll be able to go to the dog park.
And, one of the most prominent things on your dog’s mind? Well, you, of course! You probably feature in your dog’s dreams quite a lot. Your dog might dream about that fantastic moment when you walk through the front door every evening, or the time that you shared food off of your plate. They probably also dream about the time you yelled at them for chewing up your favourite shoes or barking at nothing at 3 in the morning.
Are there other factors that affect a dog’s dreams?
Interestingly, different breeds may dream different things. Bird-hunting dogs, for example, are likely dreaming about looking up in the sky for flying objects. Other working dogs, like Dobermans or German Shepherds, may dream about protecting the household against intruders and keeping their Owners safe.
Age also plays a role in dreaming in dogs. Younger pups, who are processing a ton of new information every day, are more likely to dream than an adult dog. Older dogs also tend to dream more, perhaps because they spend more time sleeping than younger dogs.
How can you make sure your dog has sweet dreams?
Well, just like with humans, it’s not possible to eliminate bad dreams altogether. However, there are a couple of things that you can do to make your dog’s sleep comfortable and cozy so that they can drift happily into dreamland.
Here are a couple of tips that will, hopefully, encourage sweet dreams for your pup:
- Plenty of exercise and play time. The more your pup’s day is filled with fun and excitement, the more likely their dreams will be too! This can also include treat training that will stimulate your dog’s brain and provide them with plenty of fun mental challenges. Ensuring they enjoy their daily dog walk will also make a big difference.
- Lots of love and cuddles. If you know your pup dreams about you, make sure to lather on the love! Grooming is an excellent way to strengthen the bond between you and your doggo.
- No distractions, please! When your dog starts to run and even bark in their sleep, the first instinct is to pet them and try to calm them down. But the best thing you can do for your dog is to allow them to sleep through it. What may look like a nightmare to you may be your doggo happily running through a field of butterflies. In other words, allow them to snooze on their own. If you do have to wake your doggo up, try to do it with a calm, soothing voice.
The verdict to “do dogs dream?” Dogs do dream! And they dream big!
When your doggo sleeps, their dreams act as an important part of the learning process. They may dream about that long walk they went on earlier that day. They may dream about cuddling up with you on the couch. Or they may dream about that pesky neighbourhood cat. Regardless of what pops up during those sweet little snoozes, it’s important for you to give your little one a quiet place to sleep soundly and dream big.