What Do Dogs Dream About Featured

Have you ever wondered or asked yourself, “What do dogs dream about?” Or, for starters, do dogs dream?

Do dogs dream when they suddenly twitch their legs when they sleep? If so, what are they dreaming about? Also, sometimes we hear them cry when they sleep. So, what do dogs dream about when they call?

Well, the quick answer is yes! Dogs do dream.

However, there's no exact way to determine what they dream about. But the dog's behavior while they're sleeping can have a connection to what they are dreaming about.

But before that, let's discuss if dogs dream.

For many years, it's been unclear if animals generally can dream as humans do. Because, unlike humans, dogs can't describe their dreams. So, scientists started to get to work.

Scientists started to monitor the brains of rats while performing tasks like running around tracks for food. After that, they compared their brain activity while sleeping and discovered it to be the same.

In conclusion, the rats were certainly dreaming! They have concluded that all mammals dream.

Do Dogs Dream

Do Dogs Dream?

To further understand this, let's dive into the stages of sleep processes.

Sleep is when the human or animal's consciousness and voluntary muscular activity are reduced. Sleep plays a vital role in the growth and recharging of body systems.

When it comes to sleeping, dogs' and humans' brains work similarly and show brain wave patterns that indicate a difference between the two primary sleep cycle stages.

When a dog or a human falls asleep, they will experience slow-wave sleep (SWS), meaning that the brain waves are slow and smoothly rising. In this stage of the sleep cycle, the muscle tone is still active while the mental processes are quiet.

During this stage of the sleep cycle, you'll see your dog resting calmly, but they can easily be awakened.

After that, the next stage of sleep is called Rapid Eye Movements or REM sleep. This is where the waves are faster and more irregular.

In REM Sleep, the muscles are more relaxed, but the mind is more active. You'll notice that your dog may whine, breathe rapidly, and move its legs because its mental activity is heightened.

The finding is that dreams are part of the normal sleep cycle. Since both humans and dogs experience the same sleep cycle stages, it is safe to assume that dogs dream, too!

How often do dogs dream?

The number of times a dog can dream can vary depending on the age and size of the dog. For instance, the frequency and the length of dreams of a puppy are different from those of adult dogs.

In recent studies, it says that the size of the animal plays a role in the frequency of dreams. For example, puppies can experience more dreams than adult dogs.

Another example would be a toy poodle experiencing dreams every 10 minutes. But a large dog like a Labrador Retriever can dream once every 60-90 minutes.

But a small dog's dream can only last for a minute, while a large dog's drive can be 5-10 minutes long.

Another factor to consider is the amount of sleep required. For instance, a large active dog sleeps more and experiences longer phases of REM sleep, which gives them time to dream more.

Without further ado, let's discuss what dogs dream about. Do they dream about their favorite treats? Chasing squirrels? Playing with their buddies? Or do they dream about you? Let's find out!

Additional information about Dog Dreams

  • A dog's breathing becomes more profound and more regular when he starts to fall asleep.
  • The average dog will start to dream after about 20 minutes of REM sleep.
  • A dog's breathing can become shallow and irregular when it starts to dream.
  • At this stage, their body will sometimes twitch.
  • It is believed that dogs visualize dream images during REM sleep.

how to make a dog sleep

What Do Dogs Dream About?

There's no way to know what our dogs are dreaming about accurately. But researchers think that they would likely dream about running around, chasing squirrels, and even playing with you ( I know, dogs are the best).

According to researchers, dogs are more likely to dream about the things they do during the day. So it's possible that they dream about playing hide and seek with you, playing with other pets, or just running around chasing something.

Researchers from MIT also suggest that animals have very complex dreams. Complex, meaning that animals can remember certain activities or events that they've experienced in the past.

For instance, your pup can dream about the road trip you took last summer, the beach trips, and even your pleasant walks.

If you want to determine what your dog is dreaming about, observe them while they sleep. About 20 minutes into the nap, they will enter the REM Sleep stage, which lasts about a few minutes.

This is where you'll notice your pup twitching, moving, or making sounds. Notice if there are any similarities between your dog's movement during REM Sleep and their daily activities.

So, if you ever see your dog doing a running-like movement in their sleep, it is most likely that they are dreaming about chasing someone. They can dream about playing with a friend or playing catch.

Unfortunately, since the dream patterns of dogs are similar to human dream patterns, dogs can have bad dreams, too.

Dogs Dreaming About Food

Can Dogs Have Nightmares?

Since not all human dreams are reasonable, it is also possible for our beloved pets to experience nightmares too. However, your approach to your dog that is experiencing a nightmare shouldn't be the same as you would with a child.

When a child experiences nightmares, you can wake and comfort them. But with dog nightmares, there are certain risks involved.

As a pet parent, if you have kids at home, you have to make sure that you teach them the proper ways to handle your pet in times like these.

When you're woken from a nightmare, it takes a few seconds or a minute for you to settle down and remember that it's only a bad dream. Other people can react differently and can be a little aggressive.

This is the same when it comes to dogs, and it can be dangerous, especially to children. Dogs can react aggressively to the person who wakes them up if they are experiencing nightmares.

Furthermore, in an example given by a Harvard psychologist, an owner reported that he presumed that his dog had a bad dream about bath time. We all know that not all dogs enjoy bath times.

A common misconception is that dogs hate it, but in reality, they are scared of it. This can be because of previous negative experiences with it.

Furthermore, this dog doesn't like bath times, and every time the bath is finished, the dog runs toward the owner and hides between his legs. He noted that that's the only time the dog does this routine.

But one day, the owner noticed that his dog had a dream, and quickly after the dog woke up, he rushed to the owner's legs and hid there. He concluded that his dog had a nightmare about bath time.

Why Dogs Cry in Their Sleep

Besides having a nightmare where they feel threatened or anxious, there are still other reasons why they cry in their sleep. So, if you see your dog whining, crying, or growling in their sleep, it is most likely that they have a bad dream.

However, some dogs act out and pretend to cry while sleeping to seek attention in some cases. For instance, if you're crate training your dog, it could mean that they want to get out or enjoy some food or water.

Dogs won't be able to tell you verbally that they are hurting. That's why dogs also tend to cry in their sleep when they feel pain or distress.

As the dog owner, make sure that your dog is not experiencing any internal injury, infection, or inflammation in its body.

3. Difficulty Sleeping

Frequently Asked Questions

Do dogs know when you are crying?

According to studies, dogs can sense our emotions. They can read our facial expressions and follow pointing gestures.

There's a theory that dogs have a sixth sense. They can know exactly how and what you're feeling.

The most common sign that your dog knows you're crying is when they approach you in a comforting manner. They also tend to nuzzle or nudge the crying person or put their head on their owner's lap with those heartwarming puppy eyes.

On the other hand, dogs are known to mimic the emotions of their owners. So your pup may begin to cry, too, if they hear or see you bawling your eyes out.

What do dogs think about all day?

Have you ever stared into your dog's eyes and wondered “what the hell is he thinking about?”. Well, you're not alone in that.

It is hard to pinpoint the exact thing on their heads since we do not have dog translators. But one safe bet is that they're thinking about their daily routine.

Dogs have circadian rhythms, meaning they like to follow a specific routine in their everyday lives. So they tend to wake up simultaneously, eat at the same time, go for walks at the same time, and sleep at the same time.

But since there are no certainties to what they are thinking, keep in mind that dogs feel simple emotions. For instance, they can feel happiness, discomfort, fear, anger, excitement, and love.

How do I tell my dog I love him?

If you want to tell your dog you love him or show appreciation for being the best buddy. You can do things to make them feel it.

Here's a quick list of how you can show love to your dogs:

  • Rub their ears
  • Lean on them
  • Schedule a daily playtime
  • Teach them new tricks
  • Take the time to cuddle with them
  • Give them dog treats
  • Make eye contact when you talk to them

bulldog sleeping

Do Dogs Dream Summary?

So, what do dogs dream about? Dogs dream about their daily activities.

If you see your dog twitching their legs, moving, or making noises, it's a safe bet that your dog is dreaming.

It can be from running around chasing a ball, chasing squirrels, playing fetch with you, or playing hide and seek with you.

Dogs also have a great memory. They can dream about the swimming that you had last summer or the time that you went on a hike or a road trip.

Moreover, if you're wondering how often dogs dream, the dog's size and age are factors when it comes to the longevity of their goals.

But unfortunately, dogs can also experience nightmares. So what do dogs dream about when they cry?

There's no natural way to determine what our dogs are dreaming about. But if you see or hear your dog whimpering or crying while sleeping, they are in distress or pain.

But in times like these, it would be best advised not to wake up your dog. Because in some situations, they can react aggressively after waking up to a nightmare.

But no matter what they're dreaming about, it is nice to know that they have dreams in their sleep, just like us. We hope they enjoy these dreams, as we all want the best for our best buddies.


Toby loves spending time with his dog and two cats. They are the best stress reliever and affectionate pets, especially his Belgian Malinois, Shawie. Shawie's favorite activity is running or jogging. But their go-to spot is to chill and swim around a nearby river.