Do Dogs Dream? What Sleep Research Reveals

Many people wonder if dogs dream. According to researchers, the answer is yes. Sleep studies have proven that dogs go through stages of sleep, each with varying levels of brain activity, physical movement and most importantly, dreams.

Stages of a Dog Sleep Cycle

SWS or Slow Wave Sleep is the first stage of sleep. The dog is in a light sleep and is easily awakened. The brain waves are elongated and even, and breathing is slow and regular. While the brain is at rest, the dog's muscles are still active and ready for action.

REM or Rapid Eye Movement is the stage where dreaming takes place. The dog's body is relaxed, but the mind is active, producing uneven and irregular brain waves similar to those when awake.

Evidence That a Dog Can Dream

When dogs enter into REM sleep, the brain activity shown on an electroencephalogram (EEG) becomes erratic, the dog may twitch or move its paws or tail and may bark, whine or growl. Researchers compare the dog's brain and physical activities to human sleep studies with both the canine and human results producing similar EEG readings. It is during these periods of heightened EEG activity that people acknowledge having dreams. And while a dog can't tell us if or what he dreamed, the similarities lead researchers to believe that dogs do dream.

While we may never be able to confirm directly with a dog if they do indeed dream, comparative research indicates that during REM sleep, a dog's mind is processing and dreaming.