Do Dogs Dream

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Do Dogs Dream

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Many people believe that dogs do dream. Most dog owners have noticed that at various times during their sleep, some dogs may quiver, make leg twitches, or may even growl or snap at some sleep-created phantom, giving the impression that they are dreaming about something.

So when Fido's legs twitch in his sleep, is he really dreaming of chasing rabbits?

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Probably, researchers say. The "rabbits" part is up for debate, but the scientific evidence strongly suggests that not only do dogs dream, but they likely dream about waking activities, much like humans do.

Dogs sleep more than people do, they have a particular penchant for catnaps. But the structure of their sleep looks remarkably human: Like humans, dogs cycle through stages of wakefulness, rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid-eye-movement sleep. Scientists reporting in the journal Physiological Behavior in 1977 recorded the electrical activity of the brains of six pointer dogs for 24 hours, and found that the dogs spent 44 percent of their time alert, 21 percent drowsy and 12 percent in REM sleep. They also spent 23 percent of their time in the deepest stage of non-REM sleep, called slow-wave sleep. 

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If you notice your dog having a dream, follow the old adage “let sleeping dogs lie.” Disrupting his sleep during the REM cycle can be startling (think about how you feel waking up from a dream), which can result in an unintended bite or worse.


On average, dogs spend 12 to 14 hours per day sleeping. Your dog’s particular sleep needs may vary around that range, depending on his age, size, breed, activity level, and overall health:


  • Larger breeds tend to sleep more than smaller breeds.

  • Working dogs with activity-filled days sleep less, while those who lead sedentary lives will sleep more.

  • Puppies can spend up to 20 hours sleeping a day. Growing and learning how to be a dog takes a lot of energy!

  • As dogs age into their senior years, they spend more time sleeping since they tire more easily.

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What are the common dog sleep positions?


Does your dog have a favorite sleeping position? Dogs tend to sleep in one of three positions, and they have a reason why for each.


  • On their side with four legs stretched out: This is a comfortable position for your dog when he’s feeling very relaxed. It also exposes some of his belly to the air which can help him cool down.

  • On their back with all four paws in the air: When a dog is in this position, he’s at his most vulnerable. It’s the toughest for him to get up from and it exposes his neck and belly. If you catch him in this position, you know that he feels safe and secure. It’s also a good way for him to cool down since his belly is exposed.

  • Curled in a ball: This is the least comfortable position for a dog to sleep in, as it requires them to use their muscles to stay curled up. However, it is the easiest for them to spring up upon waking, making it a defensive position. Dogs who have been abused or are unsure of their environment often sleep in this position. However, sometimes dogs sleep curled up simply to keep warm.

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