I’ve seen this topic pop up a lot lately. Do dogs dream? What do dogs have dreams about? Just like with humans, dogs do dream, and I’d imagine they have dreams that are similar to what we dream about. Just like our emotions can trigger specific dreams, dog’s emotions play a part as well.
Dreaming comes in during specific sleep cycles, and in that cycle is when we remember the dreams we have. Most of the time, our dreams can reflect the events of what happened during the day. Our subconscious simply changes the events and forms them into stories.
Let’s start from where dreams come into play; the sleep cycles.
The Sleep Cycles.
There are several stages of sleep that we get, and not all the stages have dreams that we can remember when we wake. The sleep cycle is a variation between slow waves and the REM stage. Many have categorized sleep into stages, one, two, three and finally four, the deepest sleep, the REM stage.
Stages one through three are referred to as NREM sleep. Each stage lasts a different time frame than the next. These initial stages are where our bodies and brain are just starting the rest cycle.
In the beginning stage, phase one, you’re just starting to fall sleep. This stage lasts the least amount of time, usually minutes.
Stage two is where eye movement stops and breathing becomes even. This stage can last longer, usually 10 mins to an hour.
Stage three, this is the start of getting to the dreaming stage. It’s also believed this is the stage where the body recovers from the previous days events. In this stage, breathing, pulse rate and heart rate are all decreased. This stage usually lasts 20 to 40 minutes on average.
Stage four is often referred to as REM sleep.
REM – Where Dreams Come In.
REM sleep, or stage four is the deepest sleep we can have. In this deep stage, we see rapid eye movements and muscle twitches. Some people even walk during this stage. During this stage is when it’s the hardest to wake. This stage can last from 10 minutes to an hour as well.
The body will go through each stage several times during the night. When something wakes us, you start back at stage one when you’re dozing back off. Dogs go through the stages just like we do, especially since they often nap during the day.
When anyone lays down, you can watch them go through these sleep cycles. The initial closing of the eyes, the deep even breathing starts. Sometimes you can watch as they have slight twitches in the legs or arms.
Once they hit the fourth stage, REM, that’s when you can tell they’re having dreams. I’ve watched my dog Atlas run in her dreams, suckle, bark and whimper.
Once the dream starts, just like with humans, they dream of the days events.
Types Of Dreams Humans Have.
Humans can have such different dreams, every night. Often times, when we see something, or experience something during the day, our minds will bend those events to form a story. The stories don’t always make sense, since in this realm, the imagination runs wild.
In the dreaming world, anything can happen. There’re no laws for gravity, or right from wrong. Our minds will bend the events to form what the subconscious wants.
A quick story – I bought a very large roll of butter at the store, the Amish butter. It’s 3 lbs overall, in one large roll. My two young daughters have taken to baking lately, so I needed more butter and thought, why not? I showed it to my oldest daughter when I came home from the store.
That night, she had a wild dream.
The Wild Dream.
She woke up the next morning to tell me that she had a crazy dream about the butter. She dreamt that I nailed the butter to the wall, and was allowing it to melt all over the place. She saw this butter turn into a river through the house, and kept asking me why I was melting the butter on the wall.
Every time she tried to take the butter down from the wall, I told her to leave it. I told her I wanted the butter to melt, so we could coast along the river of butter. She said she tried several times to get the butter off the wall, but I kept stopping her.
Even days later after this dream, she remembered the butter melting on the wall. She kept reminding me that I pinned it to the wall to let it melt. Three days after this dream, when I told her to get the butter from the fridge, she said that I should pin it to the wall so it could melt.
While we have crazy dreams, you can see that her mind bent the dream to a story her subconscious created. I’d imagine dogs do the same.
What Do Dogs Have Dreams About?
Dogs can experience events throughout the day, just like we do. They run around and play with balls. Maybe they even chase after the mail man. Regardless of what transpired during the day for them, we can watch those stories play out during their dream cycle.
If my dog Atlas went running that day, after a ball, I can watch her run in her sleep when she starts to dream. In her world, she might see a yard full of balls, where she’s able to catch each one in her mouth. I’m sure her mind bends her dreams to a story just as ours does.
I can also see when she’s experiencing emotions from the days events. If she had a day full of barking – yes, she has those sometimes – she’ll bark in her sleep. Some days, she’s just on full attention, every little thing triggers her barking in response to whatever intruder she’s conjuring up. During that intense REM stage, she usually whimpers, her lips pull back and she runs in her sleep. Chasing whatever intruder her mind felt was there during the day.
Final Thoughts About Dogs Dreams.
Every dog owner that’s reading this article, knows that they’ve watched their dogs dream. If you remember what happened in your dogs day, you’ll see that their mind bends the dreams to what their subconscious wants. Just like with us.
If your dog had a tough day, maybe they got in trouble, you can see their dream will somewhat resemble their emotions during that time. It could come across as a simple whimper in their sleep. Maybe their toes twitch as if they’re ducking away.
My dog will suckle in the night. If she’s had a day of suckling her toy – yes, she does this often – I can watch her suckle during her dream cycle. It’s actually fascinating to watch if you can recall how their day went.
Like us, dogs can have good days, and bad days. I’m very observant of my Bully companion and I tend to watch her closely. It’s very easy for me to tell the emotional state she’s in during the day. So when she dreams after something that happened to her, I can watch her mind replay those events.
What does your dog do during their REM sleep cycle? Share your stories for others to read!