Do dogs dream?

Yes – dogs do dream. Scientists have found that the same areas of the brain that light up for humans when we dream, also light up in dogs.

Just like us, dogs enter different cycles throughout their sleep. Dreaming is most likely to happen in the REM (rapid eye movement) phase of sleeping. This part of the sleep cycle is when your dog will begin to do one or more of the following:

  • paw twitching
  • change in breathing
  • eye flickering
  • whimpering
  • barking
  • body twitching 
  • tail swishing

What do dogs dream about?

The truth is we’ll never know because we can’t see inside their heads – what a trick that would be! However, because a dog’s brain processes information in a similar way to ours, we can take from this that they dream in the same way that we do.

Humans dream to process their day. This helps us to learn and digest what we have experienced. We help ourselves out by mixing our dreams with things we like or dislike and with people that we know or meet through the day. The same goes for our dogs. So, for example, if your dog has a fondness for chasing squirrels or barking at the neighbour’s dog, then that may well play out in their dreams.

It’s also incredibly likely that your dog is dreaming about you. Dogs are, in general, very attached to their owners and, as owners, we play a huge part in our dog’s day. So, the likelihood of them dreaming of us is very high.

Is my dog having a good or bad dream?

Much in the same way that humans will react to their dreams in a physical way while asleep, dogs do too. It’s likely that if your dog is happily barking or twitching, they are having a good dream. Whimpering may indicate they are having a bad dream.

Should I wake my dog up if they are having a bad dream?

No. When we dream, we digest our day. It’s our way of building on our emotional responses so that when we are faced with a situation in real life, we are better equipped to respond to it. It is thought that dogs’ dreams are of equal importance to their wellbeing. So, it’s best to leave them sleep.

You can always help your dog have pleasant dreams by giving them a great day – walks, games and ways to keep them mentally stimulated, like a snuffle mat or a homemade puzzle toy.