Do Dogs Dream and What Do Dogs Dream About?

At one time or another, most pet owners ask the questions, “Do dogs dream?” and “What do dogs dream about?” Research has been done on this subject, and the answers might surprise you!

I'm sure you've seen your dog twitch his legs and make muffled whining sounds while he's asleep. Is he dreaming, or is this something else?

The quick answer is, yes, dogs do dream. Research has found that dogs dream much like humans. What happens to your pet while he's asleep, and what kinds of things do dogs dream about?

Keep reading to answer these questions and more.

Do Dogs Dream and What Do Dogs Dream About?

Do Dogs Dream

Do dogs dream?

Until recent research, it has been unclear whether or not animals dream. Eventually, the question had been posed enough that experts decided to find out for themselves.

Researchers began by monitoring the brains of rats. They watched their brain activity while the rats were performing ordinary daily tasks like running around searching for food.

They compared this brain activity with their brain activity while sleeping. It was discovered the brain activity of the awake rats and the brain activity of the sleeping rats were the same!

This research proves that the rats were actually dreaming, and thus, the scientists concluded that all mammals dream while they are sleeping.

Further research has been done on the canine brain during sleep. The canine brain is very similar to the human brain structurally. This means their brain activity during sleep is also very similar to that of a human.

Like humans, dogs experience multiple sleep stages during their sleep cycle. During the rapid eye movement (REM) stage, dogs dream just like we do.

MORE: Should My Dog Sleep In Bed with Me?

sleeping dog

Dogs enter into REM sleep about 20 minutes into their sleep cycle. Also, like humans, some dogs dream more than others.

Interestingly, puppies and smaller breeds dream faster and more often than larger breeds. On average, they will have about 1 minute of dream time every 10 minutes while in REM sleep.

Larger breeds may dream for up to 5 minutes at a time but could have up to an hour of non-dream time in between.

What do dogs dream about?

No definitive research has been done on what dogs dream about. Based on related studies, researchers theorize that dogs dream about things that they know.

They may dream about chasing squirrels, playing fetch, or running around the dog park.

Your dog will usually dream happy dreams, but like humans, dogs can have bad dreams, too. Your dog may dream about a traumatic event, getting into a fight with another dog, or something that he's afraid of.

If it seems that your dog is having a bad dream, you can try to wake him gently. Keep in mind that waking him will likely startle him.

If your dog is snapping, growling, or showing other signs of aggression in his sleep, it's best to let the dream play out and wake him when it's over. If you really want to wake him, do so from a distance by calling his name or making a distracting noise.

Once your dog is awake, be sure to console him so that he knows he is safe and loved.

READ NEXT: Why and How Much Do Dogs Sleep?

Samantha’s biggest passion in life is spending time with her Boxer dogs. After she rescued her first Boxer in 2004, Samantha fell in love with the breed and has continued to rescue three other Boxers since then. She enjoys hiking and swimming with her Boxers, Maddie and Chloe.