Whole Dog Journal's Blog August 11, 2014

Do Dogs Dream?

Posted at 10:26AM - Comments: (10)

My old Border Collie Rupert used to herd in his sleep. Which was funny, because he was a failed sheepdog who never showed a sign of wanting to herd any animal when he was awake. But when he dreamed, his ankles flexed in a galloping rhythm and his lips curled and his eyes rolled around as he herded sheep. Iím sure of it.

Cole falling off the couch in my office in his sleep

Do dogs dream? And if so, do they dream about what it looks like they dream about? I am not aware if there has ever been a brain-wave researcher with enough time and funding on his hands as to try to determine if dogs really do dream, but I hope so. And why do all dogs seem to have different dreaming recurrent themes, much as we do?

Rupe always seemed to be dreaming about running and dodging about. Otto has much more stressful guarding/fighting dreams. He growls and woofs and makes very fearsome snarling faces, and sometimes, immediately after a bout of sleep-growling, heíll whimper and yelp as if hurt or scared, and wake up with a start. He will then immediately look somewhat embarrassed. Itís exactly that, ďOh man, did I just have the scariest dream!Ē look.

Cole waking up with double dork ears

But this is the cutest thing, and why I was finally inspired to write this blog: Cole, my sonís almost one-year-old coonhound-mix puppy, wags his tail in his sleep. And he had a big, long, thumpy coonhound tail, which is what has alerted me to this phenomenon. At least five times in the past couple of weeks as Iíve been dog-sitting my sonís dog, Iíve been working at my computer when I heard a loud ďThump thump thump thumpĒ behind me, and when I turned to see what was making the noise, there is Cole, sound asleep, with his tail wagging up a storm. His eyes are twitching in REM sleep, and he has twitchy muscles elsewhere, but mostly, that tail is going. I have tried and cannot ever seem to get the video camera on my phone going in time to capture this Ė my chair squeaks as I turn to reach for it or something, and he wakes up Ė so you are going to have to trust me when I say itís about the cutest thing ever. Heís a sweet, sweet, easygoing guy, very mellow and fun-loving, and it totally fits that if heís having dreams, heís wagging his tail in them. I just wish I could capture it on video.

Do your dogs dream, do you think? Do they seem to have recurring dreams?

Comments (10)

So sad!

My Nervous Nellie must have nightmares, because she sobs in her sleep -- sobbing like a child.

I wake her up and tell her I love her, and she then settles down to sleep more calmly.

Posted by: Jenny H | August 16, 2014 12:40 AM    Report this comment

My dogs wag their tails too! I love it. I've noticed that my dogs who had the roughest life wagged their tails the most while dreaming. Makes me feel like I'm giving them such a good life that they can be happy when they dream.

Posted by: SundogsHawaii | August 13, 2014 5:34 AM    Report this comment

My Sophie definitely dreams! I absolutely love it when she "woofs" in her sleep...she reminds me of the Three Stooges because it's more of a "woo-woo-woo" soft sounding "woof"

Posted by: sdbeachgirl | August 12, 2014 2:30 PM    Report this comment

I had a malamute/shepherd/something mix that wagged his big heavy tail in his sleep regularly, without a lot of other twitching.
Curiously, my border collie did this just last night! He was doing the extra twitching and 'running' as well. He occasionally yips but it is more like a muffled light bark - not aggressive.

Posted by: Diane | August 12, 2014 12:03 PM    Report this comment

Both of my dogs dream, from the twitching, to the yips, to the tail wagging. Not surprisingly, I guess, is that my one girl who likes to bark at everything makes the most noise, while the other, a lover, wags her tail a lot. It's tempting to wake them when it seems they might be having a bad one, but they need their REM. Like all of us who have rescues, I hope they're dreaming of now, and that it's good.

Posted by: MJC | August 12, 2014 11:56 AM    Report this comment

Of course they dream - who could doubt it? One of my dogs barks and woofs in her sleep and also wags in her sleep. The other one does many of the same things, even growling - something she doesn't really do when awake - and also wagging her tail. I love when they do that!

Posted by: Mauigirl | August 12, 2014 11:44 AM    Report this comment

I love watching my dogs dream and trying to imagine what their dreams look like. When my 8-year-old lab mix, Camas, was a puppy, he used to nurse in his sleep, with the little tip of his tongue out and everything. He was a rescue, and I'm sure he was separated from his mom too early. Over the years, he's had all sorts of dreams - most consist of twitching feet, curling lips, and muffled yips. Every once in a while, though, he'll let out the most plaintive howl...and I wonder what he's experiencing that could elicit such a mournful sound.

Posted by: mistify76 | August 12, 2014 11:17 AM    Report this comment

Interesting note, my very reactive BC never "dreamed" i.e. Paddled/twitched/whimpered until Dr. Karen Overall prescribed him a customized pharmacological anti-anxiety cocktail, at age 5 (he is nine now) I never realized how poorly he had been sleeping all those years! He now "dreams" regularly and is much more relaxed but hasn't lost an ounce of speed or drive.

Posted by: Bcaddiction | August 11, 2014 11:07 PM    Report this comment

Interesting note, my very reactive BC never "dreamed" i.e. Paddled/twitched/whimpered until Dr. Karen Overall prescribed him a customized pharmacological anti-anxiety cocktail, at age 5 (he is nine now) I never realized how poorly he had been sleeping all those years! He now "dreams" regularly and is much more relaxed but hasn't lost an ounce of speed or drive.

Posted by: Bcaddiction | August 11, 2014 11:06 PM    Report this comment

My dog definitely dreams.... The lip flapping barks, twitching feet and all. We also have the tail thumping... The other night I woke up to him asleep by my feet and that big old tail just whacking away on my leg!!!! Since he's a rescue I always wondered what he dreamed about, but the tail wagging makes me hope it's about his happy, spoiled new life with us!

Posted by: EllenL | August 11, 2014 5:50 PM    Report this comment

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