What Do Dogs Dream About? – Find Out What They Dream

Manveen Sibia
Manveen had an illustrious career in journalism and writing. She is the mother of a super active 7-year-old. While chasing her around the house, she also finds time to pursue her passion for writing on parenting, education, health, fitness, and entertainment.

If you have a pet dog, chances are that you may have seen him dreaming as well. Often dogs whimper, twitch or even let out a bark when they are fast asleep. These are all signs that your pet dog may be deep into his dream world. While you can only guess what he may be dreaming about, it is a proven fact that dogs do dream.  Let us look into some interesting aspects of dog dreams.

Do dogs dream?

Dog brains are structurally quite similar to human brains. Some scientists have also done research using electroencephalogram (EEG) to test canine brain activity while they sleep. During the study, they discovered that dogs are similar to humans in brain wave activity and sleep patterns.


Like humans, dogs also enter the deep sleep stage during which they have rapid eye movement, and their breathing becomes irregular. This is the stage during which humans dream. Dogs too dream during this stage of their sleep.

Can you tell if your dog is dreaming?

Dogs usually start dreaming around 20 minutes into their sleep. Rapid eye movement (REM) is the most obvious sign that your dog is dreaming. When you look carefully, you will notice that your dogs eyes are moving rapidly under his eyelids. His eyes may be partially open or fully closed.

Your dog may twitch or move his limbs but will be fully relaxed within a few minutes. Sometimes dogs may bark, whine or even cry while they are sleeping. These sounds usually do not wake them up.

Your dog may also start breathing rapidly in his sleep if he is dreaming.

What do dogs dream about?

Though we may never know what dogs dream about, we can only guess that they may be dreaming about their day to day activities.

Like humans dogs too have a specific part in their brain called pons, which prevents them from acting out their dreams. Scientists have done some studies in which they deactivated the pons in the dog brains to find out what they dream about. These dogs then started acting out their dreams which led these scientists to conclude that dogs dream about their daily activities like chasing, playing and eating.

Do different dogs dream differently?

Yes, smaller dogs dream more frequently than the larger ones, though we do not know why this happens. According to Stanley Coren, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Columbia, while smaller dogs like Chihuahuas have more frequent but shorter dream periods, large dogs like Golden Retrievers have less frequent but longer dreams.

Can your canine have nightmares?

Since dogs dream like humans, we can safely assume that they also have nightmares. Your dog’s nightmares may be less abstract and more about the real dangers that he may have experienced during the day.

If your dog is growling, crying or appears disturbed in his sleep, there is good chance that he is having a nightmare. Be careful of touching your dog while he is having a nightmare as he may lash out at you unknowingly.

Do dogs sleepwalk?

Dogs may be able to sleepwalk but not like humans do. While the actions of sleepwalking humans are quite like normal, dogs just lie down and paddle their feet as if they are running. They may also stand up and flop on the ground while sleeping.

What should you do when your dog is dreaming?

Do not attempt to wake up your dog if he is dreaming. He enjoys his uninterrupted sleep as much as you do. His brain will be able to process information better if you let him be.

However, if it looks like he is dreaming something terrible, it may be better to wake him up. Wake up your dog by calling out his name, don’t go near him or touch him. He may attack you unknowingly, and you may end up with scratches and bites.

How to differentiate between an active dream and a seizure?

Sometimes your dog’s movements during sleep can look troubling, but there are chances that he may be having a very active dream. If your pet dog is having a seizure, his body may begin to tremble. If he vomits, urinates or defecates, these are signs of a seizure.

Your dog may lose consciousness if he is having a seizure. Your dog will be disoriented and confused after a seizure, which is not the case when he wakes up from a dream.


In case of a seizure move all the furniture away from your dog to prevent him from hurting himself. Seek medical help immediately.


The next time you see your dog barking or paddling in his sleep, don’t be alarmed. He is just dreaming, just like we all do. Let sleeping dogs lie.


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