Do Dogs Dream?

Posted by Katherine Ripley
Polina Fatourou/Flickr

If your dog twitches, whines, barks, or snaps in his sleep, you might wonder: is he dreaming?

Most experts believe that dogs do dream. Researchers once did an experiment on rats where they had them run a maze while recording electrical patterns in their hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for memory formation and storage.

Later, when the rats were asleep, the researchers again monitored the rats' brain waves, and found that the same patterns that appeared while the rats were running the maze appeared while they were sleeping. This led to the conclusion that the rats were dreaming about the maze.

Because dogs have more complex brains than rats, it is assumed that dogs also dream. It's impossible to know for sure exactly what dogs dream about, but it's safe to say they probably dream about things they do in their day-to-day lives: chasing squirrels, playing fetch, meeting other dogs, and spending time with their humans.

Natalie Maynor/Flickr
Natalie Maynor/Flickr

So how can you tell if your dog is dreaming?

As mentioned earlier, if she barks, bites, or moves her paws while asleep, that's a pretty strong indication that she's probably dreaming. You also may be able to see your dog's eyes moving behind closed lids while she is asleep, which probably means she is looking at the different dream images.

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Do dogs ever have bad dreams, like people do?

Probably. While humans might have nightmares about the zombie apocalypse, dogs might by frightened by dreams about angry armies of mailmen. If your dog suddenly wakes up and runs, barks, or seeks comfort with you, he may have had a bad dream. Just give him all the love you can.

Have you seen your dog dream? Tell us in the comments below!

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Do Dogs Dream?