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Have you caught your dog pawing at the air, growling or whining in its sleep? Chances are he/she is dreaming and there is scientific evidence that supports the fact that dogs dream. Read on to find out the how and what of dog dreaming.
What do dogs dream of?
Scientists have long believed that dogs can dream for many reasons, while studying dog behavior and traits. Dogs have a similar brain structure to that of humans. When scientists observed the brain waves of dogs when they entered the dream phase, they noticed that the patterns were similar to the brain wave of humans while they were dreaming. The researchers did not just stop at that to draw conclusions. They went on to inactivate a part of the brain stem that prevents us from acting out dreams in dogs. This was to see if the dogs were indeed dreaming and would enact out their dream when they were not restricted by the associated part of the brain. When they confirmed that the dog had entered the dream phase by observing the electrical activity of the neurons, they temporarily disabled the brain stem structure. They noticed that the dogs began to freely move around while the brain was still in the dream stage. From digging holes to chasing phantom birds, they showed different reactions, as and where their dreams took them.
Dogs dream about everyday dog things, and what they do during the course of the day. Of course, there is no scientific evidence that supports this, but researchers have drawn parallels from experiments conducted on rodents to infer the same. Also, considering the fact that humans and dogs share a similar brain structure, it would be safe to assume that they dream about their everyday activities.
How to tell if your dog is dreaming
You will be glad to know that you do not need an EEG to know when your dog is dreaming. Just wait for about twenty minutes after your dog dozes off on his bed, this is around when the average-sized dog begins to dream. Yes, the size of the dog affects how long it takes for them to reach the dream stage and how often they dream. Smaller dogs like chihuahuas dream once in every ten minutes, while your golden retriever may take an hour and a half at least. You can observe your dog’s breathing patterns to see if it has fallen asleep. The dog’s breathing should turn normal as he/she falls deep in slumber. This should move to irregular breathing patterns when your dog enters the dream phase. Watch his/her eyelids to see if you notice the eyes move, which indicates that he/she is in the REM sleep phase. If you notice him/her whimper or twitch, he/she’s probably having doggy world dreams.