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Dreaming and Dogs

Dreaming DogDear John,

Do dogs dream? Should a dog be woken up if he is dreaming? Our 18 month old black Labrador Retriever, dreams and makes a lot of noise, (not growling though) and his legs are often going a mile a minute. What should one do? – let him enjoy his dream, or wake him up? A person often wonders what they are dreaming about and we joke that this high energy dog is chasing rabbits in his dreams.

Thanks Joyce

Dear Joyce,

I used to mess with Elmo my Jack Russell Terrier when it looked like he was having a great dream. He was neutered so I figured it had to be about food so I’d carefully place a cookie where he lay so when he woke he’d think there was e “Treat Fairy” that he summoned in his dreams. I got the idea from Timmy our cat who used a slight variation. Whenever he detected Elmo having a bad dream he’d place himself face to face with Elmo so that the first thing Elmo would see after Timmy unceremoniously whacked him in the head to startle him awake was Timmy’s gaping maw.

Through the use of electroencephalogram (EEG) on sleeping dogs it appears that if the similarity between readings found in dreaming humans is any evidence then yes they do dream. Like humans they enter a stage where they have rapid eye movements (REM) which is supposedly when dreaming takes place. They make all kinds of sounds, ranging from whimpering, growling, have jerky body movement, moaning, howling, very similar to the typical sleeping man.

As to whether you should “let a sleeping dog lay”, depends on the dog. I’ve never had a dog that woke up with a bad attitude but then again I’ve only ever had male dogs. Most dogs don’t seem to have a problem with it and the reality is that getting woken up involuntarily is going to happen anyway so waking them suddenly and giving them a cookie isn’t such a bad idea.

Pawsitively Yours,

John Wade

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