Do Dogs Have Nightmares? – What You Need To Know

Dogs sleep for a large amount of the day, so it’s no surprise that they experience a lot of dreams and, occasionally, nightmares. So, if you were wondering can dogs have nightmares – the answer is yes. But, what do dogs dream about? Find out what your canine friend thinks about as they drift off to dreamland with us.

Can Dogs Have Nightmares? Decoding Puppy Dreams

Dogs are well-known for their proclivity for napping. They appear to slumber for most of their life, either cuddled up on our laps or concealed in their favorite isolated spot. It may surprise you to find that dogs sleep twice as much as humans and spend an average of 12 to 14 hours per day sleeping, though this may easily go up to 16 or even 18 hours for particularly exhausted doggos, puppies, senior dogs and larger breeds.

With so much time spent sleeping, it’s reasonable to believe that they dream just like humans. Continue reading to learn about dogs dreaming and what it implies if your fur baby twitches while sleeping. While we don’t have all of the answers, scientists are working to decipher can dogs have dreams, bringing us closer to comprehending our canine companions.

How Do Dog Dreams Work?

Just like us, dogs and even cats go through multiple sleep cycles. There are periods of waking, followed by REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and non-REM sleep. REM sleep is thought to be a part of how the body stores memories, among other things, and is responsible for the most memorable and vivid dreams.

The majority of dogs’ dreaming occurs during REM sleep, usually starting 90 minutes after dropping off to sleep and is characterized by random and rapid eye movements behind closed eyelids. Because the brain prevents bodily movement, it is impossible to literally act out dreams. Dreams that occur during REM sleep are detailed, long, and sometimes imaginative, but dreams during non-REM sleep are often short and replicate daily activities.

Doggy dreaming/sleeping comfortably

What Do Dogs Dream About?

Asking what dogs dream about is akin to their unpredictable, curious, and frequently misunderstood personality. However, here are some possible reasons for the same:

1. Memories

Because dreaming brain activity is similar to waking hours during the REM cycle, dogs may be reliving their day during this time. Like us, dogs are likely to dream about events that occurred recently or in the distant past. Your adult dog can dream about something that happened years ago because most doggies have a significant long-term memory capacity.

2. Random Imagination

Dreams might often appear to be a random assortment of events with no discernible plot. Your dog may perhaps dream about stalking a bird, cat, or bone or maybe being petted. It could also be an altercation with another dog or cat.

3. Fantasies

Many animals are highly intelligent, and some have even been shown to have imagination. Canine species are in the same boat too. It’s a safe bet that dogs can fantasize about their favorite toy, treat or activities while they dream.

4. Needs and Desires

Indoor dogs are completely reliant on the care of their pet parents. Even the most indulged and well-cared-for pet will find something new to desire, whether it’s another sweet food or the opportunity to scrape its claws on your new furniture and they can see all that in their dreams.

5. You

Wondering if it is possible that your dog dreams about you? Well, probably yes. During their many naps, your fur baby may share their awake experiences with you. Are they enthralled by the way you scratch their ears or the rattling of a treat bag? When you call their name, do they come running? Those everyday interactions are almost certainly going to be a feature of their dreams.

Do Dogs Have Bad Dreams?

Dogs, like people, are likely to suffer nightmares from time to time. Many dogs wake up with wide eyes and fearful looks after having extremely active dreams in which they moved around a lot in the real world, leading many to believe they were having a nightmare. Dreams are a way for animals to manage stress and trauma, and they might show evidence of nightmares following stressful experiences.

Signs Of Your Dog Having A Nightmare

While your dog is sleeping, the following indications may suggest that your pooch is having a nightmare:

  • Twitching paws and eyes
  • Flicking ears
  • Twitching eyelids
  • Growling
  • Howling
  • Whining
  • Barking
  • Jerking
  • Panting
  • Tense jaws
  • Sweaty paws
  • Fast-paced breathing
  • Heavy breathing
  • Bubble-like noises

A terrified dogs that looks like he just had a nightmare

What Do Dogs Have Nightmares About?

Politics, cataclysms, and other frightening things seen or heard on TV do not enter dogs’ dreams. They are unconcerned about global climate challenges, financial difficulties, unemployment, and other issues that cause anxiety in people’s lives. But that doesn’t rule out the possibility of nightmares in dogs.

Here are some possible reasons what could your dog have nightmares about:

1. Falling

It’s hypothesized that your dog is dreaming of falling after missing a leap to a piece of furniture or even reliving an event that happened in real life. This doesn’t appear to be something really dissimilar to what humans have nightmares about. Falling is one of the most prevalent nightmares that humans encounter.

2. Separation Anxiety

Dogs may also experience nightmares about their owner leaving or developing separation anxiety. They could also be dreaming of a stressful time in their lives, such as being on the street or being injured.

3. Negative Emotions

Dogs can be affected by a wide spectrum of negative emotions, and even seemingly insignificant events can have a significant impact on them. If your pooch is twitching and fidgeting in its sleep, it could be having a frustrating dream about a bone it saw through the window but couldn’t have.

4. Unpleasant Experiences

Dogs can experience nightmares about things that have happened to them in real life that are truly dreadful and unpleasant. Painful landings, fights with other animals, and other situations, for example, can all trigger nightmares.

Even if they are now living in a safe, happy, and relaxing environment, rescued animals who have spent time on the streets, in overcrowded shelters, or with abusive pet owners are more likely to suffer nightmares.

What to Do if Your Dog Is Having a Nightmare?

Don’t worry if your dog has an occasional nightmare. Your dog will wake up and forget about it, much like you do when you have a bad dream. However, if your dog has trouble sleeping or experiencing nightmares frequently, you can help them by establishing a relaxing sleeping environment and ensuring the following:

  • Call their name to calm them down without waking them up.
  • Provide a comfortable bed for them. Supportive memory foam is particularly gentle on canine joints.
  • Give them a safe place to sleep – without any disturbances or bright lighting.
  • Play soothing music to help calm them down.
  • For anxiety, try a pressure wrap.
  • Use a calming collar to help release pheromones.
  • Allow them to rest, even if they’re having a nightmare.

How To Help Your Dog And Prevent Nightmares?

When there isn’t much you can do while your dog is having a nightmare, there are things you can do to help prevent them from having bad dreams.

  • Dogs frequently experience nightmares about the things that make them nervous.
  • Helping them overcome their concerns might benefit them not only during their waking hours but also when they sleep.

Desensitization and classical counter-conditioning are two training strategies that can help your dog with this.

Desensitization is a fancy term for gradual exposure to a stimulus that causes unwanted behaviour. If your dog is afraid of having his nails clipped, progressively introducing him to the nail trimmers, having his paw taken up, and having the trimmers just touch his nail are all strategies to desensitise him.

Counter conditioning is a training phrase that refers to altering your dog’s emotional response to a specific stimulus. It involves mixing a stimulus that would ordinarily induce unwanted behavior or discomfort in your dog with one of his or her favorite incentives, such as a treat, toy, or head-scratching. As a result, you can combine your nail trimmer desensitization sessions with your dog’s favorite snack.

Seek Medical Help

If you’re having trouble using these tactics at home or don’t know where to start, your veterinarian and/or a positive reinforcement-based dog trainer can assist you and your dog.

Contact your veterinarian if bad dreams become a regular occurrence. Your veterinarian will be able to rule out any medical causes for your dreams and assist you in getting a decent night’s sleep.

Should You Wake Your Dog While Sleeping?

If you’ve ever been startled awake from a frightening dream, you would know how long it takes to remember where you are and who you’re with. Dogs, like some people, might be aggressive toward the person who wakes them up. This is particularly hazardous for children.

So, you should not wake up your dog if you feel they are dreaming or having a nightmare. Your dog can wake up shocked and perplexed, biting or scratching you before they realize what they’ve done. The greatest thing you can do for a dog who appears to be having a bad dream is to wait for him to wake up and comfort him.

So, it is important to leave sleeping dogs alone. If you need to wake your dog up, gently say their name and rouse them up without touching them. In the aftermath of the nightmare, this keeps everyone safe and comfortable.

Frequently Asked Questions About Do Dogs Have Bad Dreams

Still, have some questions about can dogs have nightmares? Here are our answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about puppy dreams:

Do dogs dream?

Rats dream, according to a 2001 study conducted by MIT, which measured their brain waves while they were awake and completed a maze. The rats were dreaming about the work they’d completed that day, according to comparable patterns observed while they slept. Because dogs have a higher intellectual capacity than rats, they are more likely to dream. Dogs, like humans, have sleep cycles, with the REM period being the time when they have the most vivid dreams.

Why do dogs whimper when sleeping?

Your dog is most likely dreaming when it barks, whimpers, or growls in its sleep. Canine brains, according to science, go through identical stages of electrical activity as human brains while sleeping, thus they’re fully capable of dreaming like us.

How do you know if a dog is having a bad dream?

If your dog is merely paddling his or her legs and making excited noises, they’re most likely having a wonderful dream about food! However, if your dog is whimpering, crying, or snarling, they may be having a nightmare in which they feel frightened or anxious.

Should I pet my dog while sleeping?

Do not disturb or upset your sleeping dog if they are having a nightmare; otherwise, they may bite you out of fear. Consider gradually awakening them by saying their name softly.

Conclusion – Can Dogs Have Nightmares?

You may have questioned can dogs have dreams if you’ve ever noticed them twitching, whimpering, chattering, or moving their paws while sleeping. Yes, it is correct. Dogs can enter dreamland in a similar way that we do and hence dream and probably even have nightmares.

According to much research and studies, dogs have a low voltage of electrical activity in the brain, tend to twitch their eyes and have a relaxed muscle state in their REM sleep. Interestingly, the amount of REM sleep your pooch experiences will decrease as they get older, therefore it’s assumed that puppies are much more likely to dream than adult dogs.

This could also be because puppies have a lot more to learn about the world around them, therefore they have a significant amount of information to process and more signals will be sent to the brain.

Start typing and press Enter to search

Shopping Cart

No products in the cart.