Do dogs dream? Most dogs spend a lot of time snoozing. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation reports that our four-legged friends average 12-14 hours a day in slumber. Dogs who are ill, puppies, and seniors sleep more. 

Since they sleep so much, we’ve wondered if dogs dream similarly to humans. After all, we’ve witnessed their strange twitches and muffled barks as they catch their Zzzs. Oakland Veterinary Referral Services decided to uncover whether dogs dream by looking at recent research, as well as personal observation.

The Evidence Behind Dog Dreams

Although our dogs can’t share with us the dreams they dream, scientists have shown that the brainwaves of dogs (and other mammals) during sleep look like our own REM sleep patterns. REM sleep is the time when brain activity increases and is responsible for dreams. 

Researchers at MIT studied the brain activities of rats as they slept. The pattern of neurons firing during REM sleep is similar to human dreamstate patterns. By comparing the brain activity that occurs when the rats are running to activity when they are dreaming, suggests they are dreaming of running. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that dogs dream based on their silent barking, yipping and leg movements during sleep. 

Have you seen your dog dream? Animal behaviorist Stanley Coren suggests that dog owners should wait 15-20 minutes after dogs go to sleep to try to see potential dreaming. 

How Often Do Dogs Dream?

Size of the dog and breed play a role in how much a dog dreams. A tiny terrier is more likely to have several dreams in a week versus a larger breed. Puppies and seniors also dream more than middle-aged dogs. Obviously, if your dog sleeps more than the usual 12-14 hours a day, they have more opportunity to get into dreamland more often.

What Do Dogs Dream About?

While there is no scientific proof about the subjects of doggie dreams, it is suggested by researchers that they dream about things they do in waking life. When speaking to pet owners, most relate that their dogs seem to be running when they are dreaming. Since running (and sometimes chasing) is an activity that dogs do frequently, it’s probably not a stretch that they’d be successfully catching a rabbit in their slumber. 

What do you think your dog dreams about? We’d love to know.

OVRS Loves Our Dreaming Dogs

Your team at OVRS is always interested in learning more about dog behavior, including the dreams they dream. We’d love to know about your experiences with your dog’s dreams and how you interpret them.

If you would like more information about dog dreams and sleep or would like to schedule an appointment, don’t hesitate to call us. Sweet dreams!