Do Dogs Dream? It Turns Out They Probably Do (And It’s About You)

Decoding Doggy Dreams

Have you ever wondered what your furry friend is dreaming about when you see their paws twitch or hear a little bark escape their slumbering lips? It turns out, our canine companions might be experiencing dreams not too different from our own.

Dr. Deirdre Barrett, a Clinical and Evolutionary Psychologist at Harvard Medical School, has been researching dreams in humans. Along the way, she has uncovered some interesting information about animals as well. 

What Do Dogs Dream About? 

Dogs, like humans, likely dream about the things that fill their day. Because we are such a big part of their lives, chances are this means they’re dreaming about us, their beloved owners. 

Dr. Barrett explains, “Humans dream about the same things they’re interested in by day, though more visually and less logically. There’s no reason to think animals are any different. Since dogs are generally extremely attached to their human owners, it’s likely your dog is dreaming of your face, your smell, and of pleasing or annoying you.”

So, when Fido’s legs start to twitch, he might be imagining himself in a thrilling sprint across the park, or maybe he’s interacting with another dog or even you. 

While we can’t peek into a dog’s dream to see exactly what’s going on, Dr. Barrett offers some advice for pet parents looking to enhance their dog’s dream experiences. 

Exposing them to happy daytime activities and providing a safe, comfortable sleep environment can contribute to more pleasant dreams for your furry companion.

But What About Nightmares?

If dogs can dream like we do, doesn’t that mean they can have nightmares too? 

Chances are they can. 

But while a dog having a nightmare can be hard to watch, it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie.

Think about a time when you have woken up from a bad dream. Chances are it took you a second to remember where you are and who you’re with. 

Dogs can react in the same way. That means they may become defensive if abruptly woken, which could pose risks, especially if there are children around.

Is There Proof That Dog’s Dream? 

There’s no way to see into the minds of animals to find out what they’re thinking or dreaming (at least not yet.) As a result, there’s no way to know for sure that our dogs are dreaming, let alone what those dreams would be about. 

In fact, the only insight we do have into the dreams of animals is from two signing gorillas named Koko and Michael. 

The gorillas will sometimes wake and sign about events, people, or places that they have not had recent exposure to. Researchers believe this could be them communicating about things they saw while sleeping.  

What we do know, is that dogs, like humans and other mammals, go through different sleep cycles. This includes the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage, where dreams occur. And it’s during REM when those adorable twitches and barks are most likely to happen.

So if you see your dog with their twitching paws and soft barks, they might just be experiencing a nightly adventure not so different from our own. 

While we can’t be certain of the specifics, the bond between humans and dogs, it seems, extends even into the realm of dreams, making every twitch and bark a testament to the deep connection we share with our four-legged friends.

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