Almost every dog owner has seen their pup’s little paws twitching in their sleep. But what do dogs dream about? Are they happily frolicking about in their favorite park? Or are they fleeing a scary predator? We’ve rounded up several leading ideas below, including the theory that dogs dream about their owners!
Do dogs dream? – What we know
Scientists have found that other mammals have similar sleep cycles to humans. In particular, most mammals go through REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. REM is the stage of sleep where we experience very specific levels of brain activity and, importantly, dream. Because they experience REM sleep, many researchers believe that other mammals also dream. But, this is difficult to prove.
The amount of sleep each species needs varies, which may affect the amount they dream. Large mammals usually sleep the least. For example, many adult dogs need about thirteen hours of sleep a day, while humans need about eight hours. Some elephants only sleep for two hours a day! This suggests that each species dreams a different amount each night.
What do dogs dream about?
So, we think they dream, but what do dogs dream about? REM sleep is associated with processing memories. This is why dreams seem to reflect what we’ve done in our day, even if the storylines don’t make much sense. It’s reasonable to assume that dogs might dream about what they’ve done recently too. But, are their dreams like ours?
1.Your dog is dreaming about you
One theory is that your dog is dreaming about you. Dr. Deirdre Barrett works at Harvard Medical School and has spent a large part of her career studying dreams. She told People that humans often dream about what they’re interested in. Dogs, she says, probably do the same:
“Since dogs are generally extremely attached to their human owners, it’s likely your dog is dreaming of your face, your smell and of pleasing or annoying you.”
2. Your dog is dreaming about their favourite hobbies
Another theory comes from Sidarta Ribeirowho researched sleep at Duke University Medical Center. He says dreams are useful for learning from our daily experiences. He pointed out that wild mammals’ top priority is to survive. Their days are very different from humans, grazing and hunting rather than shopping and working. Their dreams might be about more basic information than ours, perhaps relating to food, avoiding predators etc.
Pet dogs aren’t what we would consider wild animals, but their behaviour can sometimes feel like it! Perhaps then, our dogs also dream about more basic things linked to survival, playing, or safety.
Can you give your dog good dreams?
If your dog is dreaming about their day, the best way to give them good dreams would be to keep them happy! Dogs also needs to feel safe and comfortable to sleep well. They need their own cozy space, although they may want that to be near you. Their bed should be big enough for them and in a calm spot of the house. For more information about dog beds, browse our cozy collection!
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