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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Do Dogs Dream?

When a sleeping dog suddenly yips loudly and her legs start moving as if running, it seems that she's dreaming. I've seen Ashley do this often, particularly after a busy day of chasing rabbits and playing.  I've often wondered, do dogs really dream? I did some research and here's what I found out.

Dogs do, in fact, dream. A dog's brain is really very similar to ours. Also, during sleep, the brain wave patterns of dogs are similar to those of people. A dog's brain goes through the same stages of electrical activity observed in humans, supporting the belief that dog's do dream. Researchers have  found that dogs, like humans, experience two stages of sleep. One sleep stage is NREM, or Non-Rapid Eye Movement sleep, during which you, and your dog, breathe deeply and demonstrate slow brain wave patterns. The second stage is called Rapid eye movement sleep, or REM. During this stage your dog demonstrates jerky eye movements, increased heart rate, and an increased pattern of brain waves. During this stage, humans, and dogs, dream.

There is also evidence that they dream of common dog activities. It makes sense, since much of what we humans dream about is connected to the experiences we have in our waking hours. As I watch Ashley sleep I can imagine that, in her dreams she is chasing a rabbit across the yard or a squirrel up a tree. Maybe she's playing with one of her dog friends. I guess I'll never know for sure but I do hope that her dreams are happy dreams.


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