If you’ve watched your dog snooze before, you’ve probably caught them dreaming by watching them twitch while their eyes move under their eyelids. But what do dogs dream about?
Today we will be talking about if dogs dream in general, what they dream about, and possible sleep disorders in dogs. Let’s get right to it!
Can Dogs Dream?
Dogs do dream! Through years of research, scientists have discovered that most mammals do dream when they sleep.
A dog’s sleep cycle is much like the human sleep cycle, going through wakefulness, rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid-eye-movement sleep.
Like humans, dogs dream in both REM and non-REM sleep. Dreams during REM sleep are often more memorable upon waking, but are also usually much more bizarre than non-REM dreams.
Scientists believe this is because REM sleep plays a big part in learning and memory.
Dr. Matthew Wilson, a cognitive scientist who researches learning and memory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says that patterns in non-REM sleep seem to suggest a sort of categorizing of the day’s activities.
REM sleep, on the other hand, may be an avenue for the brain to explore in a consequence-free environment.
Basically, your dog’s brain is making learning and problem solving, creating a smarter dog over time!
What Do Dogs Dream About?
To find out what dogs really dream about, scientists deactivated the pons, the part of the brain stem that is responsible for paralyzing the large muscles during sleep, keeping people and pets alike from acting out their dreams.
With the pons deactivated, the dogs physically started acting out their dreams.
What they found is that dogs mostly dream of their daily activities like going for walks, chasing birds, and barking at the mailman.
Dogs can also get nightmares just like humans do.
Though their imagination isn’t as vast as ours, they have nightmares about scary animals, abuse, and other things that cause them distress when they’re awake.
On a personal note, our dog Archie hates horses and most farm animals. The night after we visited our local farm, he was kicking, woofing, growling and twitching after falling asleep.
After witnessing this I fully believe that dogs can have good and bad dreams!
Sleep Disorders in Dogs
Unlike humans, dogs are fortunate enough to not get sleep paralysis, which is when the body’s muscles have a delayed reaction upon waking, leaving you paralyzed for a few minutes. (If you’ve experienced this yourself, you know how scary it can be!)
However, dogs can experience narcolepsy, a disorder which causes the brain to fall into sudden sleep.
In fact, research into a line of narcoleptic dogs at Stanford University unraveled the biochemistry behind the human form of the condition!
Many people wonder what their dogs dream about. I think it’s adorable that dogs dream about fetch, protecting the family, and other parts of their daily lives!
What do you think your dog dreams about? Let me know in the comments below!
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