Do Dogs Dream? 😴
Your fluffy bundle of joy in a deep sleep? Sometimes doing that little twitch? Even making some noises or "running"?
They may be dreaming! Cool fact - most vertebrates can and do dream regularly 🤯. Dogs go through several sleep cycles, just like us!
There are periods of wakefulness, followed by Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, and non-rapid-eye-movement sleep. REM sleep is the period responsible for the most memorable and vivid dreams and is believed to be a part of how the body processes memory, among other things. Scientists can track these cycles and associated brain activity using specialized equipment.
What Do They Dream About?
This is really interesting. They can dream of a massive variety of things! They could be dreaming about you or even something that happened in their little day. AND this can be affected by emotion. As you may know, a dog a almost sense how you are feeling. If you are feeling sad, they tend to be less playful and will want to be by your side. If you are in a happy mood, they will be more playful. Their little emotions will feed off you! This is also one of the reasons why they are called "man's best friend".
Seen you pup twitching or running? This is caused by "pons" - pons is an area of the brain that helps control your sleep cycles and regulates your deep sleep state. It also can stop your muscles from moving in your sleep. Pons are the reason you aren't actually acting out your dream! Although I think it would be cool to dream in 4D... The older the dog gets, the more their "pons" develop. This is why, esspecially puppies, move around in their sleep. Their pons are just underdeveloped for now. There is an article that is a must-read here that's found on livescience.com specifically on dog dreams!
Can They Have Nightmares? 😟
Unfortunately, yes. And this can be so difficult to watch. AKC.org writes about this too. Like seeing your child having a nightmare, you want to wake them up and comfort them. It is advised to not do this with a dog. It sounds cruel, but this is just for your safety. Like humans, being woken up from a nightmare sometimes takes us a minute or two to recognise where we are and what just happened. The same goes for dogs. Although your dog may not be naturally aggressive, waking them up from a nightmare might cause them to act differently for a little bit. This is the reason for the famous expression: "Let sleeping dogs lie".