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Do Dogs Dream? And How Much Do Dogs Sleep?

Have you ever wondered if your dog is dreaming when they suddenly start twitching and whimpering when they are asleep?

Professor Stanley Coren thinks so! Professor Cohen is a professor emeritus of psychology, at the University of British Columbia and states that dogs do dream, just like humans, and that their dreams reflect their day’s activities.  


Dogs sleep, on average, for about 12-14 hours a day which is important to their overall health.  The majority of their sleep overnight, when humans are asleep, but they do like their naps during the day too!

A pooch’s sleep cycles through 3 stages:

  • Light sleep phase: Although your pooch may look as if they are asleep, when in this phase, your dog will be alert and will be ready to jump up at the least bidding.  This slumber period will, on average, last for about 20 minutes.
  • Rapid Eye Movement (REM):  This is the phase when your dog will dream, much like humans, but interestingly, although your dog may be re-living playing with another dog in the park, or chasing a ball - there is a part of the brain, the pons, that stops him from physically doing so, but his paws might be twitching and his eyes will be moving behind closed eyelids. This REM phase will on average last for about 2-3 minutes.
  • Non-REM sleep:  This is the changeover phase from wakefulness to sleep when your dog is just drifting off to sleep and is associated with the brain restoring its energy and is a time when the body will repair itself.

You should not disturb your dog when they’re asleep and it's particularly important that you teach young children to ‘let sleeping dogs lie’;  you should never wake your dog up with a start.

puppy sleeping in bed


Research suggests that the frequency and duration of dogs’ dreams vary depending on the age and size of the dog; and it also depends on the amount of activity they have had during the day!

For example, a small young puppy might dream more often because they are learning a lot of new things during the day and have a lot to process when they are asleep.

A larger dog, however, that has had a lot of exercise may sleep more soundly and have longer phases of REM sleep and the duration of their dreams will be longer.

You should not be alarmed if you see your dog moving, twitching or even whimpering during their dreams. This is a natural process of their sleep and most dreams are not nightmares, but much like the human sleep process when our minds are active and we are dreaming of activities or by something that happened during the day - they might even be dreaming about that fun game of fetch they played with you earlier!

dog sleeping with owner

It’s important for your pooch to be able to have a snooze whenever they feel like it, and catch up with those important hours of sleep to enable healing and repair of their body. Ensure they have an area or doggy den where they can go for some relaxing, comfortable sleep and know they won’t be disturbed. Consider plugging in ADAPTIL Calm Home Diffuser in the room where they spend most of their time to help them feel comforted and reassured.

However, if you have any concerns that your dog is sleeping more or less than usual, and this is not down to a change in routine you have implemented, you should get them checked out by a vet.

Your dog’s dream could include anything that happened during their busy day, including their time with you and your family! Making sure your dog has a comfy bed, a loving home and fun daily doggy experiences will guarantee that all of their dreams are sweet ones!

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