I have always wondered what my little darlings are dreaming about when they make their little noises or twitch their noses or legs and laughingly said that they are “chasing rabbits” so I thought I would do a little research to find out if, in fact, they do actually dream.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, dogs spend roughly 12-14 hours a day snoozing and most researchers do say that dogs do dream, pretty much in the same way that we humans do!
"Hooray!!" I said- what fun! Now, what on earth do they dream about?
Firstly, though, a bit of science to back up the theory... Humans and dogs both have a brain structure called the Pons Varolli that paralyses our major muscle groups and prevents us and our doggies from physically acting out our dreams…...just as well I say :)
Also, our doggies do experience REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement sleep) just like we do. This is the stage of our sleep pattern where we experience dreaming and as dogs have the similarly high level of brain activity at this time, it suggests that dogs are dreaming, just like we do!
Ok. so back to the big question – what on earth do they dream about?
Although there haven’t been any specific studies related to dog dreaming that I could find as I crawled the big web, there has been for other animals such as rats. These studies suggest that rats’ dreams are connected to their actual daily experiences.
It therefore goes to reason that dogs’ dreams are also closely related to whatever their day has consisted of - be it a good chase after the postman, that delicious big bone they spent all day gnawing on or the wonderful ball game that you had with them at the park.
It is believed that a dogs’ dream pattern is very similar to your own dream pattern consisting of lots of daily experiences that are chopped into bite size pieces and put back together in dream-like fashion that makes sense while dreaming but may not have as clear of a narrative flow once you wake.
One thing is presumed and that is that our little doggies’ dreams most likely aren’t about chasing rabbits as I have always joked, at least not if rabbit chasing hasn’t been part of their day, but actually what they dream about is you!
Now, I don’t know about you, I am flattered but I still prefer the romantic notion that my little darlings are chasing (but never catching of course) rabbits across the grassy fields of somewhere with their ears blowing in the wind without a care in the world…go little rabbit go!