Have you ever wondered what your furry friend is dreaming about when going to bed at night? Do dogs dream about us? Or are there other things covering up their dreams? While we seem to hold different views about this matter, scientists are joining the argument and taking steps to analyze the dream of dogs. 

So, do dogs dream about their owners? Read on to find out the answer. 

Stage 1: Do Dogs Dream Like Humans?

Human beings aren't the only one who has dreams. In fact, there is much scientific-based evidence that most vertebrates and even the common fruit fly do dream. 

do dog dream about their owner

Dog sleep cycles

Many people might think that dogs spend most of their time playing around and they only take some short naps. In fact, dogs need a lot of sleep, usually around 12 to 14 hours a day.  Puppies and older dogs will even need more time to sleep than this.

Just like humans, dogs go through several sleep cycles when going to bed at night or even taking a nap. First, they experience periods of wakefulness, then fall in rapid eye movement (REM), and finally non-REM sleep. 

REM sleep is the stage in which vivid and memorable dreams occur. It is believed to be an essential part of processing memory and is monitored with specialized equipment in the laboratory. 

Getting started with the experiment

To find out the answer, experiments were conducted with lab rats as the very first subject. These rats were provided with ideal living conditions. While they spent the whole day running in a maze, their brain activities were tracked and compared with those when they fell into REM sleep. 

The findings were as expected. Scientists indicated that in these two different processes, the same areas lit up in the rats’ brains. During these two different processes, the same areas lit up in their brains. This translated into the conclusion: it was more likely that the rats were dreaming of the maze. In addition, the researchers also found out the exact location in the maze the rats dreamed of by comparing data. 

This suggested to scientists that animals, like dogs, tend to dream as humans do. Your little friends dream about their day, just like you might find yourself being up all ears in the workplace or back home in your dreams. Researchers at MIT also concluded that the animals have complex dreams, and they can remember and recall long sequences of information and events when they fall into sleep.

How to tell if your dog is dreaming? Simply answer, the breathing of your pets is irregular and you will see their rapid eye movement when they fall into dreams. Other signs could be a growl, whine, whimper, or purr. Those are their subconscious reaction to images they confront during their sleep. 

Stage 2: Do Dogs Dream About Their Owners? 

do dogs dream about their owners

Dogs clock up the average age of 12 compared with a rat’s 2-year lifespan. As a result, they may have more interesting moments in life than rats. To figure out the content in dog’s dreams, even dogs having nightmares, scientists conducted a test that temporarily disabled the pons. 

For your information, the pons is the largest part of the brain stem. It is responsible for the control of sleep cycles, deep sleep regulation, and also preventing the movement of your large muscles while you’re sleeping. Without the pons, it’s likely that you’re going to flail around during dreams and act out everything we perform in dreams. You may have noticed a thing that little puppies and older dogs make sudden movements or move a lot while sleeping. This is because the pons isn’t fully developed in puppies and less efficient due to aging in older dogs. 

Back to the experiment, scientists disabled dog’s pons during REM sleep in order to let them act out what exactly happened in their dream. To ensure safety, everything was under control and the dog’s reactions were monitored via special equipment.  

The results were pretty much like what we’ve all expected for years, thus, the answer to the FAQ “do dogs dream about their owners?” is now revealed. “Yes, they probably dream about you. Maybe your face, your smell, or even them pleasing or annoying you. Anything that the owner and dogs experience together can also appear in the dogs’ dreams. This is because dogs are generally attached to and spend most of their time with their human owners. ”, said Dr. Deirdre Barrett from Harvard Medical School. 

It’s so heart-touching, isn’t it? Other than that, this important finding has brought us one step closer to fully understand our beloved canine companions.

Dogs and nightmares 

How about nightmares in dogs? What do dogs dream about when they bark?

do dogs dream about their owners

As a matter of fact, not all human dreams are delightful and fantastic. We do have nightmares or bad dream storyline that we don’t want to recall. Dogs are no exception; however, these types of dreams are hard to track or watch. Barking or some sort of vocalizings are just simple reactions of dogs. Although it could be tempting to wake them up and comfort them, there are potential risks associated with the action.  

If you’ve been woken from a scary dream, you probably know that it might take quite a while for you to remember where you are and who you are with. Like some people, dogs can react violently towards the person waking them. This reaction can be dangerous, especially for children. If you notice that they are having bad dreams, the best thing to do is to wait for them to wake up and be there to comfort them, following the old saying “let sleeping dogs lie.”

Stage 3: Dreams Vs Abnormalities In Dogs During Sleeping

do dogs dream about their owners

Seizures

      Seizure is a serious health problem occurring in dogs. A dog suffering a seizure is different from a dreaming dog. According to the American Kennel Club, the movements of your pets while they are dreaming may look uncontrolled, but when it comes to a seizure, the situation may appear totally out of their control.

      Most dogs suffer from a seizure when they are awake or after waking up from a long sleep. However, this condition also happens when dogs are sleeping, making it easy to be confused with normal dream reactions. That places importance on grasping knowledge about what a seizure looks like. This piece of information will help you better distinguish whether your dog is having a serious seizure or just having a very active dream. 

      For example, normal movements of dogs during dreaming may be kicking, twitching, or paddling their legs that typically last for a short period of time. On the contrary, a dog having a seizure will be violently shaking and have more severe and prolonged reactions.

      Furthermore, during a seizure, your pet may pant excessively, and even vomit, urinate, or defecate unconsciously. His eyes are wide open but you can easily see a blank stare. At the same time, he also starts to produce loud and involuntary sounds such as moaning, screaming, or howling. Unlike dreams, your dog will lose control and consciousness during a seizure. That’s why when you call his name. he will not wake up or react to what you’re saying. 

      If your dog is suffering a seizure, it’s a good practice to stay calm and keep a far distance from his head and mouth. Take away any item of furniture that might injure him. Although he seems unconscious and disoriented, it is advisable to comfort him gently. You can try talking to him softly until the seizure is gone. Immediate medical attention is a must if you don’t see any improvement in his situation.

      REM behavior disorder

        REM behavior disorder is also a type of abnormality in dogs. It is rarely seen but an alarming condition to take into consideration. The disorder could be responsible for you asking yourself "what do dogs dream about when they cry?” By way of explanation, it is a situation in which your pet thinks of his dreams as reality. 

        With this REM behavior disorder, there’s no sleep state that controls your dog's movements. As a result, they literally act out exactly what they're experiencing in their dreams. Your dog may move suddenly, bark out loud, burst into crying, and bump into things, which are inconvenient and even dangerous to them. 

        And if your dogs are having these conditions, why not show your love to them by wearing a dog mom shirt. With their image on your shirt, you can show the world how much you love and care for them. 

        do dogs dream about their owners

        Some Final Notes

        Now that you’ve got the answer for what your dogs dream about. Although it’s heart-touching to know that your pets are dreaming about you, it’s vital to keep an eye on some abnormal situation to avoid undesirable consequences. 

        Related Post: Why Do Dogs Lick Each Other?


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