Do dogs dream

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Two dogs dreaming
What are they dreaming about
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Do dogs dream seems to have an obvious answer when you watch a sleeping dog

Have you ever seen your dog splayed out asleep on his dog bed, his legs dancing like he's running after some imaginary cat?  There may be a high pitched yip here or there, muffled breathing, frenetic body and leg movements.  Is your dog dreaming?  Do dogs dream?  And can we ever know for sure whether they do or not? 

Many scientists actually believe that mounting evidence shows that dogs do in fact dream.  So, what are they dreaming about?

What Are the Facts?

In a USA Today article, MIT Picower Institute for Learning and Memory associate professor Matthew Wilson said that all vertebrates are basically wired the same way.  The hippocampus, a section of the brain normally associated with memory, is almost always the same in dogs, rats, cats, and humans.  Wilson says they contain many of the same pieces, or structure.  Thus, it seems that if humans and rats can do it, why can't dogs?

Pets will go through multiple stages of sleep during the night.  Slow wave sleep with eventually make its way to REM, or rapid eye movement.  This REM phase of sleep is where most of the dreaming done by humans (and maybe dogs) happens.  REM occurs about every 90 minutes in humans, and studies have shown, every 25 minutes in cats. 

What Do Dogs Dream About?

You may have to take this section with a grain of salt as no dog has ever awoken from an interesting dream and decided to tell his or her owner about it.  But we can take a look at studies done a while back in cats to see the parallels.  In the experiments regarding our feline friends, their motor function were temporarily suppressed so that researchers could see them act out their dreams.

And what did they find?  Well, cats dreamed about things they normally do in day-to-day activities, like walking, pouncing on objects, and other similar everyday occurrences.  There's been similar research that shows much the same thing in dogs and their dreams.  We can surmise, then, that they dream about playing, running, eating, and lounging around the house on a lazy day.

Do Some Dogs Dream More Than Others?

It appears that size of dogs is a pretty big determinant of dreaming length and capability.  According to Stanley Coren, author of the book "How Dogs Think: Understanding the Canine Mind," smaller dogs have actually been found to dream more than their larger counterparts.

Great Danes and Mastiffs, giants of the dog world, may dream every 45 minutes or so and for only about five minutes at a time.  Smaller dogs like Toy Poodles may dream once every 10 minutes and for periods of 60 seconds or less.  Puppies seem to dream more frequently as well with new imagery coming almost moment to moment as they learn to adapt to the world around them.

So, in answer, according to many, dogs do in fact dream, which leads you to believe there is a consciousness in there that is somewhat like our own.

Resources:  Do Dogs Dream?

USA Today:  Do Dogs and Cats Really Dream?

Above photo attributed to cogdogblog

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