Our dogs are so cute when they are sleeping — twitching, whimpering, and chasing squirrels. But do dogs have dreams? If so, what do dogs dream about, and why do dogs dream? Do dogs dream about their owners? One can wish! Learn more about what might be going on inside a dog’s head when he sleeps and how to tell if your doggy is dreaming when he dozes off.
Yes, dog dreams are real, and they dream just like we do. We know this because researchers at MIT measured rats’ brain activity while sleeping which is likely linked to dogs. They found that animals do indeed have complex dreams.1
How Do You Know When Your Dog Is Dreaming?
If you watch your dog from the time he begins to doze off, you’ll notice his breathing will change. It will start off as regular breathing, and, for an average-sized dog, after about 20 minutes, his breathing will become shallow and irregular. It is at this moment that your dog’s first dream begins.
You may notice some quivering and your dog’s eyes moving behind his closed eyelids. The eyes are moving because he is looking through the images in his dream as if they were images in real life. Humans have this same sleep phase known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. If awoken during this time, humans almost always say they were dreaming and can recall details about their dream.
What Is My Dog Dreaming About?
Do Dogs Dream They Are Running?
If you notice your dog’s paws twitching, it’s most likely they are pretending to run in their sleep. This is completely normal. Perhaps they’re dreaming about running up to you for a treat.
Do Dogs Have Bad Dreams?
You might be wondering, what do dogs dream about when they cry, or what do dogs dream about when they bark or twitch? Just like humans, dogs can have nightmares too. And if they bark or squeal in their sleep, they might be having a bad dream. You might even notice your dog wake up suddenly startled, which could mean he just woke up from dreaming about something scary.
How Often Do Dogs Dream?
According to the AKC, smaller dogs tend to dream more frequently than larger dogs. They also report that puppies and senior dogs dream more often.2
Yes, puppies dream. You might also wonder, why do puppies shake when sleeping? For the same reason that adult dogs shake while sleeping. It’s actually believed that puppies and senior dogs dream more often than middle-aged dogs because they tend to move in their sleep more than adult dogs.
Our very own Bella and Lily were dozing off, and we caught them on camera. Bella is snoozing, but someone is not amused (ahem, Lily).
What do you think your dog dreams about?