This video features a 2-week old Labrador sleeping peacefully and apparently dreaming. He just looks so cute! It makes me wonder what he’s dreaming about.
Can dogs dream?
According to scientific studies, yes. While there is obviously a great difference between human and dog brains, they are quite alike on a structural level to the point that our sleep patterns look the same. Humans cycle through the stages of wakefulness, rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid-eye-movement sleep. People dream in both REM and non-REM sleep stages, so like us, dogs enter these stages during sleep as well.
For some unknown reason, small dogs dream more than larger dogs. Smaller dogs have more frequent but shorter dream periods while larger dogs have less frequent but longer dreams.
But what do they dream about? Since no dog can ever tell anyone, scientists can only guess. Their sleep patterns are similar to those of humans, so it is likely that they dream like us as well; replaying their everyday activities like chasing, playing, and eating.
It’s believed that dogs can have nightmares too. Humans have nightmares about things they fear, so it’s reasonable to assume that dogs do too. The signals that your puppy is having a nightmare are yelping, extreme tail-wagging, howling and thrashing. Dogs require uninterrupted sleep for healthy mental activity, so it may not in fact be best not to wake a dog from a nightmare. If you feel the nightmares are excessive, record the occurrences and show the video to your vet.