What do dogs dream about? Are they looking for endless treats or bounding through green fields when they sleep? Do dogs have nightmares? Do dogs twitch if they are scared at night?
Dogs have dreams. Dogs bark in their sleep, they move in their sleep, and they even have scary dreams. This much we know, but while it's possible to tell if a dog is having a good or a bad dream from their movements and sleep patterns, it's more difficult to know exactly what they might be dreaming of!
Dog dreaming is fascinating, though, and in today's article, we explore the many intriguing hypothetical ideas around dog dreaming. What do dogs dream about? Let's find out!
Do dogs dream?
Before we imagine what a dog dream could involve, let's first examine whether or not dogs dream in the first place. The answer is a resounding yes from scientists.
The most obvious way to know this is from the movements and actions your dog makes while it's sleeping. If you ever watch your pet dog in their basket, then you might notice your dog twitching in sleep, or your dog barking in sleep. These movements are an indication that dogs have the ability to dream, just like humans do.
Scientists are also able to examine the brain waves emitted by a dog when they are asleep. When humans fall asleep, their brain activity increases during the REM phase. The REM (or rapid eye movement) sleep phase is when humans begin dreaming intensely. This happens before you drop off into a deeper sleep. The added brain activity is a result of dreaming.
Dogs follow a similar sleep pattern (as do most mammals), and the activity in a dog's brain also increases when it enters dog REM sleep. This is an important indication that your dog is also dreaming before it drops off into a deeper sleep phase afterward.
But what do dogs dream about?
While it's possible for us to accurately guess that dogs are dreaming, it's virtually impossible for humans to ever know exactly what dogs are dreaming about. Humans have a hard enough time remembering their own dreams, let alone trying to surmise what a pet dog is dreaming about!
What humans can do, however, is guess what their pet dogs might be dreaming about. This can be done by examining how your dog is moving during its sleep cycle, as this is an excellent indication of what they are dreaming about.
Dogs have both positive and negative dreams (just like humans do), and while we can't ever know the exact details of a dream, we can guess a few things.
Dogs run in their sleep
For starters, a dog running in sleep might be indicated by your dog twitching or moving its legs in its basket. Your dog shaking in sleep could indicate running, too, but it could also be a sign of your dog having nightmares.
Dogs spend a lot of their waking life running around in parks or outside in the garden, so it would make a lot of sense for your dog to be dreaming about this. If it's a bad dream, though, then perhaps your dog is running away from something!
Dogs dream about owners
Dogs can also dream about their owners. Because your dog spends most of their time with their owner (or thinking about their owner), it would make sense for you to be a staple feature of their dreams at night (and we hope good dreams, not nightmares!).
Dreams are often constructed from our recent experiences, and dogs are incredibly attached to their owners. But just what the dog is dreaming about, when they dream about their owner, we will never know. They could be playing fetch in the park, or their owner could be feeding them or petting them.
They may also be dreaming of other humans or other dogs in their lives, or from earlier periods in their life too!
Dogs have nightmares!
Dogs having bad dreams are often noisy or active in their sleep. Humans toss and turn if they have a bad dream, and dogs can do the same too. If your dog barks in sleep, then it could be having a bad experience.
Your dog crying in sleep, barking or whining, isn't an uncommon occurrence. However, if you're wondering, 'What do dogs dream about when they cry?' we'll never truly know.
Unfortunately, we'll never know the severity of the bad dreams, as we won't know what exactly constitutes a nightmare for a dog. If it's anything like a human nightmare, though, then dog nightmares could be as nonchalant as their owner taking away their food for the day or as deep as unwanted yet resurfacing bad puppy memories!
Continued nightmares could be a sign that your dog is unhappy or anxious, however. Perhaps, then, you need to be providing more treats or walks for your dog.
How can I make my dog's sleep more enjoyable?
As an owner, you'll want to be certain that your dog is getting the best sleep they possibly can, so it can stay in tip-top mental and physical health. Regular bad sleeping habits can lead to anxiety, depression, and fatigue while also making dogs more susceptible to illnesses.
Here are a few of our top tips for keeping your dog's sleep more enjoyable:
Don't wake your dog from a nightmare
Bad dreams and nightmares aren't much fun, but you can limit the anxiety by allowing your dog to see the dream through to the end.
Waking your dog from their nightmare can actually cause confusion and make it much more difficult for them to get back to sleep later on.
Just leave them be, and remember, when they wake up naturally, that you'll be right there for them!
Invest in comfy sleeping arrangements
Comfort is just as important to the pet as it is for the owner. At night, your dog needs to be comfortable; otherwise, they are going to have difficulty sleeping well.
Investing in comfortable baskets are a start, but you can up the standards by setting up something like this ramp to make it easier for your dog to get in and out of its bed or up and down the stairs before bedtime.
Make sure the sleeping area is clean and comfortable and that it's not too hot or too cold during the night.
Exercise and healthy eating
You can help your dog sleep better at night by providing them with a healthy diet and regular exercise plan.
Dogs have a lot of energy, and wearing them down through a long walk in the park or a game of fetch in the garden is a great way to calm them down.
Nutrition and diet are important too because a well-fed dog is a happy dog!
What do dogs dream about: will we ever know the truth?
Dog dreaming is absolutely fascinating to imagine, but unfortunately, we'll never be able to truly know what dogs are actually dreaming about. For humans, it's impossible to understand what it's like to be a dog, just as a dog can never understand what it's like to be a human.
What we do know, however, is that dogs do dream. Perhaps they dream about their owners, their favorite foods, or tasty treats. They have nightmares and bad dreams, too, just like their human owners.
While we don't know exactly what dogs do dream about, we can safely say that they do dream. As responsible owners and dog lovers, we can also work towards making our pet's sleep patterns and their dreams more comfortable, and happy!
Why not bookmark our guide to dog dreaming, and help your dog sleep better at night?