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Dogs spend about 10 per cent of their total sleep in the dreaming phase. Photo: Shutterstock

Do dogs dream? Yes. Do they have nightmares? Yes. Here’s how you can help

  • Dogs dream and have nightmares like humans, with signs including growling, crying and shaking. They are most likely recalling a traumatic experience
  • Resist the urge to wake them – they may lash out. Making an environment more comfortable and quieter can be a preventive measure

It turns out bad dreams are not just a nuisance for humans – our pets can experience them as well.

Though the sleeping patterns of dogs differ in some ways from our own, there are striking similarities, including the ability to get frightened in the night.

But dogs don’t likely dream about showing up to school naked or losing all of their teeth. Those are uniquely human fears. So, what populates their dream world?

Here’s what to know about a dog’s nightmares, what to do if your dog has a nightmare and what they might be dreaming about.

Yes, you are being manipulated by your dog – science proves it

Do dogs dream?

Yes. The American Kennel Club (AKC) reports that the sleep patterns of your dog aren’t that different from your own.

Dogs experience both slow-wave sleep, or SWS, and rapid-eye-movement sleep, or REM. Dogs spend about 10 per cent of their total sleep in the dreaming, or REM, phase.

Small dogs have shorter dreams than large ones. Photo: Shutterstock

Small dogs dream more often than larger dogs, the AKC explained, with their dreams lasting for a shorter amount of time.

Do dogs have nightmares and how do you know?

The AKC reports that dogs can have nightmares, as well as other kinds of dreams.

Indications that your dog is having a nightmare include: growling, crying, snarling, loud barking, shaking and twitching.

What causes nightmares in dogs?

Dogs are not able to dream up scary monsters the way we are, the AKC reports, so if your dog is having a nightmare, they are most likely recalling a traumatic experience.

Dogs may recall past traumatic experiences, like fights, in their nightmares. Photo: Shutterstock

Dog walking company Wag reports that dogs that have experienced more trauma in the past are more likely to have nightmares.

If your dog is suffering often from nightmares, it can help to make their sleeping space more relaxed and safe.

Should you wake dogs up from nightmares?

What to do if your dog is having a nightmare? Resist the urge to wake them.

The AKC reports that your dog might lash out if you wake them from a nightmare, as they may not realise they have been awoken and could be disoriented.

Dogs dream about their everyday activities, like humans do. Photo: Shutterstock

Again, making an environment more comfortable can be a preventive measure. Nightmares in dogs can be triggered by noises or chronic pain, Wag explains, so eliminating catalysts can help your pet get a better night’s rest.

What do dogs dreams about?

Dogs dream about their everyday activities, just like we do.

In recent studies, dogs have been shown to dream about pointing at birds or running.

Dog dreams tend to depict activities they often participate in, Wag reports, or sometimes a replay of a particularly formative experience.