Sometimes, we see our dog twitching or growling in his sleep. Could he be dreaming about frolicking in a vast, green, open field, or having a nightmare about his food being stolen? Yes, researchers believe he probably is.
As much as we would like to communicate with our pooch to find out what he was dreaming about (or if he was even dreaming), we can't. While we may never get an actual answer to one of the most commonly searched questions on Google (“Does my dog dream?”), here are some of the scientific clues that tell us the answer is probably 'yes'.
• SIMILIAR BRAIN STRUCTURE
Structurally, the brain of your precious pooch is similar to yours. Researchers have found that during sleep, the brain wave patterns of dogs are comparable to that of humans, pointing to the high likelihood of doggy dreams.
• SIMILIAR SLEEP PATTERNS
While dogs generally sleep more than us, we share similar sleep patterns. Like us, canines enter a “deep sleep” stage, which is accompanied by rapid eye movements and irregular breathing—typical signs of dreaming sleep. Research has proven that humans who are awakened during this sleep phase often report that they are dreaming.
Try this with your pooch: Watch him from the time he starts dozing off. His breathing should be deep and regular. At around 20 minutes, the dream should start, and his breathing should become shallow and irregular. You may also notice muscle twitches and movement of the eyes behind closed lids.
• ELECTRICAL ACTIVITY
Rats have been tested to have electrical activity in their brains that are similar to that of human's during sleep. As their brains are far more different than ours structurally in comparison to dogs, it is almost definitive that Fido does dream.
What Does A Dog Dream About?
Scientists have found out that it's probably “doggy” things like digging holes and chasing cats. This was done by temporarily deactivating part of the brain stem called the pons.
The pons is responsible for paralysing large muscles during sleep, keeping dogs and humans from acting out our dreams when sleeping. When that was done, the tested dogs appeared to be running and digging.
With this new knowledge, we can wish our doggies "Sweet Dreams" every night!
*This article was updated on 7 May 2021.