Do dogs dream and about what?
Like humans, dogs go through all the cycles of sleep. They spend about 47% of their sleep in either REM on non-REM cycle, and this is where dreams happen. Dogs dream about dog things. Part of the brain stem called the pons, stop our large muscles from moving in our sleep and acting out our dreams. In young puppies, those pons are not fully developed so they twitch and move a lot more than older dogs. In studies where the pons were deactivated, researchers found that dogs will act out their dreams. So pointer breeds will point and Dobermans will chase.
Study on dogs and dreaming:
Research conducted by Matthew Wilson and Kenway Louie of MIT proved that during sleep, dogs brains go through similar brain wave patterns as humans (see reference below). They were also able to show that rats’ brain functions similar to humans and their finding suggest that rats are capable of dreaming and do in fact dream. Since dogs’ brains are more complex and show the same signs of electrical sequences, Stanley Coren a well-respected scientist and Professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia concludes that it is reasonable to assume that dogs also dream.
We are still trying to locate the study about deactivating the pons in dog’s brains. However, what we have been able to find is that pons controls our movement. When we are asleep, pons control our movement and prevent us from acting out our dreams. This study removed or deactivated these pons in dogs. When the dog was asleep they saw that the dog was really active, running, pointing and barking even though brain electrical signals all said the dog was in REM sleep.
Interesting fact about dogs’ dreams, smaller dogs dream more dreams, while larger dogs dream less but their dreams last longer.