We’ve all seen the signs, your puppy is fast asleep, but their tag is wagging, their face is twitching, and they may even be whining. When this happens, we can only presume one thing, our puppies must be dreaming. Pet owners across the world seem to agree, when their puppies sleep, they dream just like humans do. But do our puppies dream just like us?
Well… sort of.
A growing body of research seems to suggest that puppies do in fact dream, however, many of these studies suggest that while puppies are capable of dreaming, these dreams are different to the variety that humans experience.
Humans experience sleep in different phases. These phases are known as Light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep and theyeach serve a specific regenerative purpose. The REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phase is characterised by high levels of brain activity. It’s during this stage that our most frequent, vivid dreams occur. Puppies have been shown to experience similar phases of Rapid Eye Movement while asleep. Thus, psychologists conclude, it is highly likely that puppies do in fact dream in a similar way to humans.
A level of speculation occurs, however, when psychologists debate the subject of our puppies’ dreams. Humans are extremely complex, cognitive creatures capable of vast degrees of abstract thought. Puppies, on the other hand, are more instinctive, and concrete in their thought. While humans are capable of infinite imagination and complex thought, puppies are more earthbound and limited by their less developed neural structures.
This leads many scientists to conclude that when our puppies dream, they are reliving their lived experiences. Experiences such as scents they followed, food they ate, new people they met, and sometimes even a scolding they may have received. Moreover, considering how attached puppies become to their owners, there’s a high probability that when your puppy sleeps, they dream of you.
Humans also relieve their daily experiences in dreams, similarly to their puppies. Studies have found that our brain activity during REM cycles of sleep often mirrors patters from that day. Another study into the dreaming activity of lab rats found that while dreaming, rats retrace the mazes they traversed that same day. This has led scientists to speculate that this storing and reliving process is a powerful tool that contributes to how puppies and other animals make sense of their worlds.
So, while there seems to be solid evidence suggest that our puppies dream while they sleep, it is much more difficult to trace the subject of these dreams. If your puppy is twitching and their tail is wagging, then it’s fairly safe to assume that they’re dreaming.
Perhaps we can take solace in the idea that when our puppies sleep, there’s a good chance that they are thinking of us. Studies like this go further to prove that dogs really are man’s best friend.