We all know that dogs are man's best friend. They provide us with companionship, loyalty, unconditional love, and protection. But there is one thing about dogs that we may not completely understand: what do they dream about?

Dog experts feel that dogs do dream, but their dreams are probably shorter and less vivid than ours. Dogs also do not seem to remember their dreams the way we do. Dr. Deirdre Barrett, a clinical psychologist and author of "Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose," states “If you ask a dog if he remembers his dreams, of course he can’t answer you, but looking at behaviors some people interpret as signs of dreaming suggests they probably have pretty basic dream lives."  Let us take a look at some of the things that may cause our furry friends to have sweet dreams or nightmares.

The Science Behind Dog Dreams

It turns out that the jury is still out on whether or not dogs dream in the same way that humans do. However, there is some scientific evidence to suggest that they may very well experience something similar to human dreaming.

One study found that when dogs are asleep, their brains go through the same sleep cycles as human brains do. During the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep, human brains are active and often times dreaming. This stage is characterized by rapid eye movements (hence the name), increased brain activity, and increased breathing and heart rate.

Interestingly, the study found that dogs experience the REM stage of sleep just like humans do—and they even display many of the same physical characteristics, such as increased brain activity and rapid eye movements. This led the study's authors to believe that dogs highly likely dream during this stage of sleep just like humans do.

What Do Dogs Dream About?

Now that we know that dogs probably dream, the next logical question is—what do they dream about? Unfortunately, we cannot ask them directly (yet), so we can only make educated guesses based on their behavior and what we know about their daily lives.

Many experts believe that dogs dream about things and events from their everyday lives—much like humans do. So, if your dog spends his days chasing squirrels in the park, it is likely that he will dream about doing just that, a hunting dog might dream about chasing rabbits, while a watchdog might dream about protecting his home from burglars. Other experts believe that because dogs' brains are hardwired for survival, their dreams may be more primal in nature and focus on things like hunting and fighting.

So next time your dog is twitching and whimpering in his sleep, he is probably just having a good ol' doggy dream!

Do Dogs Have Nightmares?

It is unlikely that dogs experience nightmares in the same way that humans do. However, just like humans, if a dog experiences something traumatic, it may affect their dreams. Dogs who have been abused or neglected may have nightmares about their experiences. Rescued dogs may also have nightmares due to the stress of their previous situation. Provide your sweet pup with lots of love and have plenty of Health Extension Dog food and treats on hand for them to enjoy when they wake up!  If your dog seems anxious or restless in their sleep, it might be worth talking to your veterinarian or an animal behaviorist to see if they are experiencing nightmares.

Next time your dog is having a restful snooze, you may find yourself wondering what exactly is going on inside their head. While we may never know for sure what goes on during a dog's slumber, we can make some educated guesses based on their behavior. It is likely that dogs dream about things that are important to them such as food, toys, and their human families. These are the things that bring them joy when they are awake so it only makes sense that they would bring them joy (or anxiety) in their dreams as well! So, the next time you see your pup twitching in their sleep, do not worry – they are just chasing squirrels in their dreams!
November 30, 2022 — Tamara Slaughter-Cerven