You may have noticed that puppies and older dogs twitch and move while sleeping. Although it is impossible to get a first-hand account of their dreams, dogs do indeed dream.
Scientists have researched, studied and compared brain wave patterns in dogs and humans and it confirms that dogs do in fact dream.
Just like us dogs need to sleep to allow them to recharge their body system. Most adult dogs sleep for an average of 12 to 14 hours a day but puppies and older dogs may sleep more often and it is thought that puppies and older dogs dream more often. Whilst your dog is asleep the brain is processing information and experiences that occurred during the day and dreaming is part of a normal sleep cycle. When humans or dogs dream, we are not fully conscious and therefore the dream can be very vivid and seem real and we react subconsciously to the dream images we see. That is why you might hear your dog growl, whimper, bark, twitch or their legs may move as if they are running whilst lying on their sides fast asleep.
Some dogs dream more than others as their brains are more active and the frequency and length of dreams may vary according to age and size of the dog. Smaller dogs seem to have more dreams than their bigger counterparts. Dream length and frequency is also related to the amount of sleep required. A large dog that has an active day outside may sleep more soundly giving him more time to dream. The main thing to remember is that all dogs are individuals and you will learn their sleeping habits over time.
If you have been awakened by your dog whining or thrashing about in the middle of the night, you are not alone. It may be alarming to see your dog running in place while sleeping or hear him whimper but do not be frightened and do not get annoyed by your dog’s night-time antics. If you think it is having a bad dream, by they way it is behaving, it really is best to let sleeping dogs lie and if they seem agitated when they wake up you can comfort them by quietly talking to them to let them know everything is okay. If you were to wake them they may become startled and react badly and could even bite. If they often experience particularly animated dreams ensure that where they sleep they are in an area where they cannot harm themselves with their thrashing around.
Dreaming is a normal, healthy occurrence and is part of a regular 24 hour cycle of wakefulness and sleep and most dreams are not nightmares.
It is important to note that dogs and humans need uninterrupted sleep for health of mind and body so remember to teach children to not wake a dog when he is sleeping. No matter what our dogs dream about, there is some comfort in believing that they, like us, have dreams and fears that play out in their sleep, making us more alike than different