When my dog is snoozing soundly and starts to whimper and kick I playfully like to say, “Aww, he’s chasing dream squirrels again!” It’s easy to think that they are dreaming just like we humans do, but do they really? Luckily, we’re not the only ones who’ve asked this question and now we have some answers.
Dream World of Dogs?
In short, yes our dogs do dream.
How do we know? Well, MIT researchers took this question to heart and decided to study brain activity in rats back in 2001. What they discovered was that the rats had the same level of cognitive activity in REM (rapid-eye movement) sleep as if they were running a maze they had completed earlier that day. This led them to conclude that the mice were actually dreaming about the maze when they were in this stage of sleep.
As Matthew Wilson of the Center for Learning and Memory at MIT stated, “no one knew for certain that animals dreamed the way we do, which can involve replaying events or at least components of events that occurred while we were awake. We looked at the firing patterns of a collection of individual cells to determine the content of rats’ dreams. We know that they are in fact dreaming and their dreams are connected to actual experiences.”
What do rats have to do with dogs dreaming? Since rats have far simpler cognitive processes than cats and do, researches are comfortable making the assumption that dogs (and cats) dream just the same.
When is My Dog Dreaming?
Just as you’d imagine, when your dog starts to twitch and make small noises in their sleep is usually when they are in REM and dreaming. It usually starts about 10-20 minutes after they fall asleep and you can tell when you start to see their eyes move behind their lids. Just like us, they start to twitch and can even “talk” in their sleep.
What is interesting is that size comes into play when it comes to how much your dog dreams. Small dogs tend to dream more often than large dogs. And puppies and senior dogs tend to have more dreams than their middle-aged counterparts. No matter what age or size, watching a dreaming dog can be pretty entertaining.
What’s the funniest thing your dog has ever done in their sleep? We’d love to hear your story! Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page!