Have you ever noticed your dog begin to kick or bark while they are sleeping? Sammy, who is my dog, does this practically every single night. While it is adorable, I always wonder why and what is triggering her to do this while sound asleep. Believe it or not, she is actually dreaming just like a human would!
Dogs experience a very similar sleep pattern compared to humans. First of all, they need to find the perfect position in bed. After this position has been found, they take around 10 minutes to fall asleep. You can tell that they have actually fallen asleep due to them breathing much louder and being in less control of their body. Sammy sticks her tongue out every time she sleeps due to her not being conscious enough to keep it in her mouth.
Once the dogs enter this unconscious state, they can begin dreaming. For humans, dreams occur during the REM state of sleep. REM stands for rapid eye movement. The REM state of sleep is when the brain processes new skills and deletes ones that don’t need to be used anymore. This is the same state that humans dream in. The point of these dreams is to help your brain’s memory and learning skills. Dogs experience a very similar type of REM sleep. “All mammals dream, as all mammals undergo some form of REM sleep” (Manger 1). This shows that dogs experience the same type of REM sleep as humans, which therefore correlates to their ability to dream. Their brain also needs to process memories and delete unneeded information. This results in them beginning to dream while they are in this state.
The most unknown thing about doggie dreams is what they dream about. While it is impossible to find out exactly what they see in their dreams, it can be theorized about. In a dream, only known information can be seen and used. So this means that what dogs see in their dreams has to be something they have experienced. This means they are most likely dreaming about their owner, their home, or a favorite toy. It is impossible for them to see things in their dreams they don’t know exist. For instance, if they have never seen a skunk, they can not possibly dream about one. When they kick or bark in their sleep, they are most likely interacting with one of these things in a dream.
After researching, I have found out the reason why Sammy kicks and barks in her sleep is because she is dreaming. This is very interesting to think about as we associate dreams as more of a human trait instead of a dog trait. In the future, more research will be conducted to find out exactly what dogs dream about.
Manger, P. R., & Siegel, J. M. Do all mammals dream? The Journal of comparative neurology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/8211436/