Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Question

It occurred to me to throw out this question to Steve and Matt and any commenters who want to jump in.

Do your dogs dream?

At least I have always assumed that's what's going on. It is pretty common when Maggie is sleeping on her side to hear her making whining noises and/or muted barks while her legs, feet and tail twitch. Sometimes she makes so much noise she wakes herself up. Sadie and other dogs we have had have done that as well, but Maggie does it far more than any other dog I've ever been around.

I've never read anything about dog dreams or talked to anyone about it other than Connie. Does anyone know of research on this? What are your experiences and opinions?


Steve Bodio said...

I have always assumed it is dreaming.

It seems to vary from breed to breed and maybe individual to individual. I can't remember seeing Lily the dachs dream, but Ataika dreams all thetime, vocally. Plummer lurcher used to when he slept inside too. The other tazis I haven't seen doing it but they mostly sleep outside--??

Matt Mullenix said...

I think all my dogs have dreamed---or, I guess we must say, seemed to dream. Rina certainly does, whuffing and wimpering and twitching from time to time when obviously alseep.

I find it positively easy to believe that dogs dream.

Here's a curve ball for you: I have watched hawks sleep many times. For years I kept them in the house and often inthe bedroom on screen perches. They sleep like all birds do, with heads tucked behind them (or probably in the crook of the "arm" does anyone know for sure?).

Usually they are quiet. But once, puffed up and almost perfectly round alseep, a kestrel of mine went, "peep, peep, peep" and fell silent again, never once moving.

I felt sure it was a dream. Anyone guess?

Heidi the Hick said...

I am convinced that dogs dream! Our farm dogs would stretch out in the shade after a long day and twitch and snuffle.

The pug makes all kinds of ridiculous snoring noises when he sleeps but when he's dreaming it's a whole other thing. I wonder what's going on in there. With him, likely hunting down a big giant fast and challenging milkbone! (wuss!)

H. Houlahan said...

Dogs (and other mammals and birds) show the same sleeping brain activity as humans do during dreaming (i.e., when you wake them up, they say they were dreaming)and on similar cycles.

So I think one can confidently state that dogs dream.

To contend otherwise would be to contend that there is a basic neurological function that is unique to humans, and that other animals are experiencing something entirely different when their brains are doing the same thing. It takes a particular kind of fundamentalist to either serve up or swallow that.

I've noticed that puppies are more prone to noisy dreams and apparent nightmares than mature dogs

prairie mary said...

No question that dogs, cats, canaries (maybe) and so on all dream. You can see the characteristic REM movement besides the running, vocalizing and so on. Sometimes they wake themselves up. The theory is that brains work memory biologically with a sorting mechanism during sleep. One records all those senses in a running heap of molecules or whatever it is, then in sleep that stuff is edited and patterned into more-or-less permanent maps of the world and time. This research comes from people who have had brain lesions of various sorts.

The part that might be different for dogs and cats is that they might not be conscious when they woke up that they had been dreaming. "Omigod, that POODLE!! If only she were real!" Whether they accept it as reality or whether they just forget, would be interesting to try to find out -- but how?

What seems likely is that animals don't organize their dreams into the symbolic patterns that we do. To them, a snake is just a snake and dreaming of their dead mother has no significance, except perhaps triggering sense memories which, in turn, evoke emotion.

My cats dream and cats have very active autonomic nervous systems, which have something to do with memory. They are notorious for hallucinating and sometimes when they wake up suddenly and stare, I fancy I could look into their eyes and see a different world. Good sci-fi idea.

Prairie Mary

Anonymous said...

My Afghan Hounds dream and so does the little scent hound cousin, the PBGV ... they all chase or are chased and bay, howl, bark, growl and yip ... I'm sure they have some sort of "thought" about it, because they've been known to look sort of silly and embarrassed about what has been going on ... the dwarf PB sleeps on her back on the sofa pillows and has been know to catch her own paw in her mouth and growl during the course of a very vocal dream.

Lady with the Strange Black Dogs

JohnnyUK said...

40 yrs of working spaniels , and more recently , 3 yrs of Labs, convince me that they all at least seem to dream ,and some of them pretty ferociously. I notice that our Lab , Petra settles down in her bed after feeding, with her legs stretched out,perfectly relaxed. She then twitches her legs ,and runs, ofeten accompanied by snuffles, heavy breathing , as if running , and even the odd yip , although she never gives tongue when out hunting .

It seems to me that, like us , she is simply reliving the pleasures of a day out in the field, unless someone out there knows better


Russ London said...

I think the "dream" state in sleep is called REM, or rapid eye movement. This state is supposed to be the most healthy part of the sleep cycle. In sleep research, the absence of this stage (deprived by waking the subject when the eye movement is seen under the eyelids) can result in physical illness and psychotic behavior. I have observed this eye movement in my dogs especially when the other sleep behavior is observed. One of my dogs would often get so agitated that he would begin to bark and wake himself up. Crazy dog.