There’s nothing sweeter than a sleeping dog.
Admit it, your phone is full of pictures of your dog sleeping. You can’t have too many cute dog pics, but the real gold are those videos of your dog dreaming. Their little paws start paddling, their face gets twitchy, and they yip and bark in their sleep. The absolute best is when they’re sound asleep, but you hear their tail thumping up and down with happiness. It’s obvious they’re dreaming, but have you ever wondered what they’re dreaming about?
Dr. Deirdre Barret, a Harvard psychologist, has spent most of her career studying human sleep habits. But along the way, she’s also focused on animal dreams. Studies on canine brain wave patterns indicate that dogs do indeed dream, and anyone who has watched their dog act out in their sleep would agree. But until we learn to speak in barks, there’s no way of knowing exactly what our dogs dream about. Are there sugarplum fairies dancing in their heads, or is it all bacon and squirrels? What about nightmares? Do our dogs dream about sad or scary things?
According to Dr. Barret, dogs and humans have similar sleep cycles. We both do most of our dreaming in a sleep stage called Rapid Eye Movement (REM). With all these similarities, Dr. Barret believes it’s also safe to assume that dreaming happens in the same way for dogs as it does for people. Humans tend to dream about people, events, and situations that are present in their waking lives. It’s our way of either reliving good moments (usually in different context), or thinking through complex emotions.
When asked about dog dreams, Dr. Barret said,
“…since dogs are generally extremely attached to their human owners, it’s likely your dog is dreaming of your face, your smell, and of pleasing or annoying you.”
While humans dream about the people they spend the most time with, dogs do the same thing. And since their whole world revolves around their family, it’s very likely that your face makes a frequent appearance in your dog’s dreams. They might be dreaming about something you recently did together that was extra fun—like playing fetch or the time you went to the beach.
It’s nice to know that when your dog’s tail starts wagging in their sleep, it could be because they’re seeing your face. And if you want to make sure all your dog’s dreams are good, Dr. Barret suggests making sure their waking hours are full of positive experiences. Nightmares are a product of negative experiences that happen when you’re awake. It could be stress, fear, disappointment, or sadness. Those emotions are impossible to avoid altogether, but giving your dog a good life will also help give them good dreams.
Obviously we couldn’t talk about doggy dreams without including an adorable video!