Dreams are stories, images, sometimes wishes or prayers. They are visions, full of apparitions. Could I have entered a few of yours or your dog’s? Naturally, you’re curious about what your dog dreams about. Let’s enter the vortex; shall we?
Dogs sleep and take more catnaps more than humans do but the structure of their sleep is much like yours. Dogs too go through cycles of wakefulness, rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep. Humans dream during both the deeper REM and non-REM sleep, but remember mostly REM dreams and since dogs show the same electrical activity during their sleep, studies suggest that they could be dreaming too. Dreams are a normal part of the sleep cycle, and so it’s natural that dogs must have them too.
Wink and a nod
Even though dogs don’t write dream journals or tell you about the strange things they might have seen, there are some things that scientists have uncovered. As your dog falls asleep, his breathing turns deeper and more regular. But about 20 minutes in, you may catch him whine, breathe rapidly or move his legs, twitch his muscles and dart his eyes to and fro behind closed lids. This is him in his full REM glory. And it is believed that much like their owners, doggies are most probably dreaming of things that happened during his waking hours like running in the park, playing fetch or being petted.
Under the veil of slumber, an old dog dreams and a pup prophecies. But how much a dog dreams depends on how old or huge he is. Puppies receive an overload of new information during the day that is processed only at night. They could have more frequent dreams than older dogs. Similarly studies suggest that bigger dogs have fewer dreams than smaller ones, but their dreams last longer. An active dog would sleep more soundly and have longer REM phases.
Let sleeping dogs lie
Any dog can be possessed by nightmares. Maybe you were awakened once when your dog thrashed about, or you heard him whimper softly. Dogs can also be afflicted by narcolepsy, where the brain falls asleep suddenly; or even sleep paralysis, where consciousness returns before the brain can switch the muscles back on. But you needn’t worry too much, these are rare disorders in dogs and nightmares too are less common than dreams.
“Dogs have dreams and humans to interpret them”(Dogiel 12:4)