Do Dogs Really Dream? Let's Ask Science...
Whether dogs dream is not known in the science world. However, the assumption in the dog world is that they do, and it is difficult to imagine otherwise. We have all watched as our beloved furry friends demonstrate behaviours in their sleep that resemble the behaviours they do when they are awake. All these behaviours may inspire you to wonder what is going on for them in their dream.
What is known about dogs and dreams
There has been some research into the relationships between memory, sleep and dreams with rats. It was found that when rats were trained to run along a circular track for food rewards. The scientists, Matthew Wilson, a professor of neuroscience at MIT, and Kenway Louie, a graduate student in 2001, found that their brains created a distinctive firing pattern of neurons. The researchers repeated the brain monitoring when the rats were sleeping and observed the same brain activity associated with running whether the rats were asleep or awake.
What is learnt from this experiment can be applied to dogs. It is known that the hippocampus (when is the part of the brain associated with memory is wired much the same in all mammals. Professor Wilson conveys that if you compared a hippocampus in a rat to a dog; in a cat to a human, they contain all of the same pieces.
Dreams occur during REM (Rapid Eye Movement). So, when you see your dog’s eyes fluttering, you know that this is the time when they are dreaming. It is during REM sleep that those behaviours such as leg paddling, twitching, vocalising that are thought to be associated with dreaming are most commonly observed.
Sigmund Freund theorized that dreams were associated with a safety valve for daily experiences. In other words, a way of sorting out your daily trials and tribulations in your unconscious state.
Perhaps the same can be applied to dogs. When your dog sleeps they dreams about their daily events and sorts them out in their head. Playing in the park, sniffing the tree bark or burying their treasure bone.