What do dogs dream about?
Dog owners have all experienced their dog twitching, scuffling or even softly barking while they sleep. It’s often been speculated that they dream about chasing squirrels or rabbits. And due to the language barrier we can’t really know for sure but we do have a few clues.
Dogs enter REM just like humans do
We know that humans dream during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. And for us humans we’ll spend approximately 25% of sleep in REM.
Dogs also enter REM. But they do so for only 10% of their overall sleep. And because they reach REM Less, they need more sleep overall to get adequate rest.
Understanding how much sleep dogs need?
It all depends on the breed, size, and age. Young puppies exert a lot of energy and can sleep for as little as 12 hours a day all the way up to 18.
As the dog ages, the amount of sleep will decrease to an average of 14 hours per day.
And then as the dog matures, its more likely that the dog will sleep early and often. A typical senior dog can sleep up to 18 hours a day and as arthritis and hip dysplasia set in they could sleep even more.
The breed can also factor into the number of hours your dog sleeps. Larger dogs such as Mastiffs, St. Bernard's and great Pyrenees, in general, need more sleep than their smaller counterparts.
What they are bred to do, also plays an impact. Working dogs tend to sleep less while dogs that don’t have a specific job tend to sleep more.
Dogs have shorter sleep cycles
Dogs also tend to wake up more frequently than humans do. They sleep lightly but for longer periods. They get this instinct from their wolf ancestors who had to sleep lightly so they could always be on alert for predators. And they don’t enter the same deep sleep that humans do.
How can you tell if your dog is dreaming?
Approximately 20 minutes after they fall asleep your dog’s breathing will become shallow and irregular. They might even start to twitch, move their legs or in some occasions softly bark. If you look closely his eyes will start to move rapidly. At this time they have just entered REM and this is typically when they start to dream.
The eyes are moving because the dog is actually looking at the dream images as if they were real images of the world. These eye movements are most characteristic of dreaming sleep. When human beings are awakened during this rapid eye movement or REM sleep phase, they virtually always report that they were dreaming.
So what are they dreaming about?
"Dogs do dream," said Stanley Coren, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of British Columbia and the author of "Do Dogs Dream? Nearly Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know" (Norton, 2012). "What we've basically found is that dogs dream doggy things," Coren said. "So, pointers will point at dream birds, and Dobermans will chase dream burglars. The dream pattern in dogs seems to be very similar to the dream pattern in humans."
For unknown reasons, the size of the dog may determine the size of the dream. Smaller dogs have more frequent but shorter dream periods, Cohen said, while large dogs have less frequent but longer dreams.
More recently last fall, Dr. Deirdre Barrett, [schologist from Harvard 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.”
Is there a way to give your dog better dreams?
A daily commitment of at least 30 minutes of exercise can help manage healthy sleeping patterns for your dog. Doing the exercise a few hours before bedtime is helpful. A simple trip to the dog park or a long walk is the ideal way to have a healthy outlet for your dog’s energy.
Choosing the right bed
Selecting the right bed can also influence how well your dog sleeps. At BuddyRest we take sleep science seriously. We use high-quality memory foam (the same found in high-end human mattresses) bonded to supporting foam. High-density support foam allows the dog to sink into a certain point and no further.
BuddyRest dog beds conform to your animal's body and redistribute their weight evenly across the bed. This improves blood flow and takes stress off critical joints. All of our orthopedic dog beds promote joint health in younger dogs, as well as relieve painful pressure points in dogs with joint issues. BuddyRest beds use the best science of support available.
The true cool difference
Our veterinarian recommended
Considering that your dog sleeps on average 14 hours, selecting a bed that supports their overall health, keeps them supported so they can have better dreams is of utmost importance.