Do Dogs Dream?
We do not really know if dogs dream, because they are not able to tell us when they wake up. But dogs do appear to dream. If you have a dog, you may have noticed that when it is asleep, it sometimes yelps or growls, rolls its eyes, and even twitches its legs as though it were chasing something. Most dog owners believe this to be a sign that their dog is dreaming.
But even though your dog may appear to be dreaming, what goes on when it whines and moves in its sleep is probably not the same as what goes on in your brain when you are dreaming. At the structural level, the brains of dogs are similar to those of humans. Also, during sleep the brain wave patterns of dogs are similar that of people, and go through the same stages of electrical activity observed in humans, all of which is consistent with the idea that dogs are dreaming.
Since a dog’s brain is more complex and shows the same electrical sequences, it is reasonable to assume that dogs are dreaming, as well. There is also evidence that they dream about common dog activities. This kind of research takes advantage of the fact that there is a special structure in the brainstem that keeps all of us from acting out our dreams.
When scientists removed or inactivated the part of the brain that suppresses acting out of dreams in dogs, they observed that they began to move around, despite the fact that electrical recordings of their brains indicated that the dogs were still fast asleep. The dogs only started to move when the brain entered that stage of sleep associated with dreaming.
During the course of a dream episode these dogs actually began to execute the actions that they were performing in their dreams. Thus researchers found that a dreaming pointer may immediately start searching for game and may even go on point, a sleeping Springer Spaniel may flush an imaginary bird in his dreams, while a dreaming Doberman pincher may pick a fight with a dream burglar.