Have you ever been lying on the couch relaxing with your dog when you hear them whimpering or see them twitch? This has probably happened various times since you have had your dog. Many owners believe this means that their dog is dreaming but is this true? Well, we have done some research to find out.
Rats dream so do dogs?
This may seem like an odd comparison but in 2001, it was discovered that rats brains have the same activity as a human’s brain that is dreaming. Without going into all the specifics, researched recorded the brain’s activity in a rat when they did repetitive tasks. These patterns were also seen during the rat's REM (rapid-eye-movement) sleep, which means that the rats were reliving the activities they did while they were asleep. Although dogs are much smarter than rats, this study can be applied to different types of animals, which is why it is so important.
What happens when they sleep?
This may surprise us but the brains of dogs are similar to that of their human owners. When they sleep they go through the same stages of brain activity that can be observed in humans. Much like us, dogs transition through different sleep stages which include wakefulness, REM sleep, and non-REM sleep. A study where scientists monitored dogs for 24 hours, they discovered that dogs spent 44% of their time alert, 21% drowsy, 12% in REM sleep, and 23% in non-REM sleep. Scientists aren’t sure why but the size of the dog may also determine the length of the dream. Smaller dogs seem to have shorter dreams that occur more often, while larger dogs have dreams less often but they are longer.
How do you know your dog is dreaming?
It can be quite easy for an owner to determine if their dog is dreaming just by watching them. Once your dog’s breathing changes and it becomes deeper you will know that they are starting to fall asleep. For most dogs, after about 20 minutes they will begin to experience dreams. At this time, there may be some twitches, their breathing will be irregular, and their eyes will be moving underneath the lids (this is what categorises REM sleep). This type of sleep usually lasts about 2 to 3 minutes for your pooch and more movement is likely to occur in younger and older dogs.
What do dogs dream about?
Not only do we have data to back up the idea that dog’s dream but we also have scientific evidence that strongly suggests that they most likely dream about doggy things and their everyday experiences. This could be barking at a squirrel, chasing the mailman, eating their favourite treat, or of their owner.
It is important for your pup’s development and health that they not only get the proper amount of activity but also sleep. If you would like to track how much time your dog is sleeping and how much time they are active download our PoochPlay app and purchase our dog activity tracker today!