Dogs experience dreams and nightmares just like Humans


Disclaimer: The author does not claim to be an expert in the field, but the article is based on credible sources.

When it comes to man's best friend, there are so many fascinating facts to discover. There are numerous facts about dogs that go beyond their behavior and facial expressions, whether you have a tiny or huge dog. With all of the love, hugs, and companionship these four-legged family members provide, the least we can do is learn more about what makes them so unique.

Do dogs experience dreams and nightmares like humans? This article seeks to satisfy any curiosity you may have regarding the subject.
Image for Representational purpose onlyPhoto by Alex Blăjan on Unsplash

If you've ever noticed your puppy twitching in their sleep and wondered what was going on in their puppy brain, they were most likely dreaming at the time. According to the American Kennel Club, dogs do dream, and it takes around 10 minutes for them to fall into a deep, dream-filled sleep. Dogs sleep 12 to 14 hours a day on average. Puppies require closer to 19 hours of sleep every day.

Researchers from the American Kennel Club analysed the brain waves of dogs throughout their sleep cycles and compared them to the brain waves of people. Dogs, like humans, sleep in rapid eye movement (REM) and slow wave sleep (SWS). The Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep is a deep slumber in which dreams can occur, and dogs spend around 10% of their sleep duration in this dreaming period.

Due to their erratic sleep cycles, dogs only spend around 10% of their napping time in REM. Since they prefer to doze off whenever they choose, frequently out of boredom, they also wake up in a hurry and jump to alertness. As a result, dogs need greater total sleep to compensate for the loss of REM sleep. Humans, on the other hand, spend up to 25% of their sleep time in REM, reflecting their more regular routine of remaining up all day and sleeping through the night.
Image for Representational purpose onlyPhoto by Arian Fassaie on Unsplash

As per the research, Dogs often dreamt out things they loved doing when they were awake. Pointers would point at dream birds, dogs who liked chasing would "race" in their sleep, and act out other familiar activities such as playing outside or chasing their tail would take place, among other things. Also, small dogs dream more frequently than bigger dogs, although their dreams are generally shorter in duration.

Sadly, dogs, like people, also have nightmares. When they have terrifying nightmares, they snarl and growl. Dogs cannot create scary, imaginary monsters, therefore when they have a nightmare, they are most probably recalling a traumatic experience. If you believe your dog is experiencing a nightmare and is snarling, growling, or screaming out, resist the urge to wake them. Dogs that are woken from a scary dream may not know where they are and may strike out at you impulsively.

Make your dog's sleeping environment more relaxing if he or she suffers recurrent nightmares. The American Kennel Club recommends playing soft music, providing a crate to let your dog feel comfortable in a "den," or using a pressure wrap.

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Reference: The American Kennel Club

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Saurabh is a Computer Science & Engineering undergraduate student pursuing his writing interests. He enjoys researching current events/news as well as Evergreen Topics and has also been writing on Medium, Quora and Vocal.


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