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What Do Dogs Dream About?

Golden Retriever sleeping on the couch

Just like children, dogs are very cute when sleeping, and they also dream like us, however, experts figured out that dogs dream about something completely different than we thought.

When sleeping, dogs look very peaceful and adorable and their paws can twitch, their ears can move, which makes us believe that they have dreams like us.

We like to think that our furry friends are dreaming of chasing critters through a field or eating a delicious meal, however, dog experts have found that our furry friends dream more about us and their everyday activities with us. Let’s see what do dogs dream about?

What Kind Of Things Do Dogs Dream About?

Dr. Deirdre Barrett is a clinical and evolutionary psychologist at the Harvard University, and also an expert on the dream habits of dogs.

When asked what do dogs experience when they dream, she replied that while people dream about things they are interested in day by day, and their dreams are more about visual things than logical things, dogs dream about things they do with us (their owners) day by day.

Dogs see the world in a different way compared to us, so their perception of the world is formed from a different perspective.

This way, your dog might dream about your face and your smell, things that are very familiar to him or her. Dogs can also dream about moments when they play with us or things they do that annoy us.

After the interview with Dr. Deirdre Barrett was posted online, many dog owners were sure that their dogs are dreaming about them, so they started to post online many pictures with their adorable dogs sleeping and maybe dreaming about things they do every day with their owners.

When dogs sleep and their legs, paws or ears move, there is a chance your dog could be dreaming about running outside.

When we sleep, our body can suddenly move, but this is happening only during the deep REM sleep. This could be the same reason why our dogs move when they sleep.

Dr. Deirdre Barrett says that there is a very small chance your dog is dreaming about running and playing, so if you want your furry friend to have good and happy dreams, to feel safe and comfortable while sleeping, make sure that you make their days happy all the time.

What Do Dogs Dream About When They Twitch?

Many dogs twitch when sleeping and this sudden move is associated by many people with dreams, however, dog experts say that there may be more to the behavior than you might think.

The sleep-twitch movement is officially called ‘myoclonic twitches’, and it tends to be very common in younger or older dogs.

One theory says that this is because a puppy is still sort of figuring out how to move, and the myoclonic twitches allow its body to do this while sleeping.

When your pup twitches in its sleep, it’s basically a case of its body trying to understand what the limb in question is for and how it works. When your puppy’s brain matures, it develops a system for ‘paralyzing the large muscles’ during sleep, so the dog can’t instinctively leap up and start sleep-running when dreaming about running.

However, the system developed by the brain, deteriorates over time, and for this reason, senior dogs are once again more prone to twitching when sleeping.

Cute pup sleeping in your bed

Cute pup sleeping in your bed, image source: unsplash.com

According to Dr. Stanley Coren, a psychology and neuropsychology expert in the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia, says that the REM stage of sleep, usually switches our large muscles off using an ancient part of the brain known as the pons. This part of the brain contains two ‘off switches’, that are meant to make sure we don’t just act our every single dream we have.

If the switches are functioning properly, even the wildest dreams should only cause some enthusiastic eye movements. However, if the switches have developed insufficiently or degraded over time due to aging, the twitching time is back.

The same thing happens to dogs.

There are several versions of sleep twitching, and not all of them are cute.

If your dog’s sleep movements last longer than 30 seconds, and are less twitchy, but more ‘violent and rigid’, there is a chance that your poor pup might be having a seizure. Don’t wake up the dog in this case, because it will be very unpleasant for it because your pooch can wake up in a state of disorientation and fear, and it may even bite you accidentally.

The same instinctive bite can happen if your dog starts twitching and whimpering while having a nightmare. If you are trying to wake up your pooch during a nightmare, the same accident can happen (it might bite you by mistake).

How To Keep Your Dog Away From Having Bad Dreams?

To make sure that your dog will never experience nightmares, you have to spend a lot of quality time with him or her every day.

Your furry friend must see your face often, and make sure that you are smiling when you spend time with your dog because if you are sad, your dog will become sad right away and when sleeping it might experience a bad dream.

If your pet goes to bed after you yelled at him or were mad at him, this can result in nightmares.

Your dog will never experience bad dreams only if it has happy daytime experiences with you and maybe other members of your family.

American Bully sleeping on the floor

American Bully sleeping on the floor, image source:unsplash.com

Make sure that you play with your dog daily, you feed him or her well, and you are happy in his presence all the time. Even if you are sad in your soul, don’t show it to the dog to avoid making him sad.

Only a sad and traumatized dog will experience bad dreams and nightmares. You are traumatizing your dog every time you scare him by shouting at him or being nervous about him.

Your pooch will have good dreams only if the last thing he sees before going to bed is your smiling face.


You need to understand that these are all theories, and we will know exactly what dogs dream about only when we will be able to communicate with our pets. Only then, our furry friends will be able to tell us what do they have dreamed about.

Your dog dedicates his life to make you happy and will always be there for you, so the least thing you can do is to keep him away from bad dreams is to spend more time with him, by playing and feeling happy together.

Article written by:

Darius Savin is a lifelong animal lover and protector and the chief editor of Checkmember. He writes and edits articles and is also the creator of the distribution maps for all the creatures featured here.