Does My Dog Dream?
If you've ever noticed your dog doing the weird half bark or the twitching running legs motion while asleep, then you're probably wonder if they're dreaming in their sleep.
Well the short answer is yes, they are!
How Do We Know?
While we know that humans regularly dream during their sleep, for many years it wasn't clear if animals did.
To find out, scientists monitored the brain activity of rats while awake and running around a maze for food. They then compared this to the brain activity while the rats were asleep and what they found was that the same areas lit up in the rats’ brains. Meaning that the rats were likely to be dreaming about the maze. By comparing the data the researchers could also figure out where exactly in the maze the rats had dreamed themselves.
What Does My Dog Dream About?
Dogs tend to lead a more varied and interesting live than rats, so they have more to dream about. To figure out what they do dream of, researchers performed a test that temporarily disabled the 'pons'.
(The 'pons' is the part of the brain stem that controls sleep cycles and the regulation of deep sleep and is responsible for inhibiting your large muscles from moving during sleep. So you don't act out your dreams by running around your bedroom).
Pons is undeveloped in puppies and less efficient in older dogs, so this is why they tend to twitch and move a lot while sleeping (the same is also true for humans).
By disabling the pons, this allowed the scientists, under carefully controlled conditions, to let the dogs act out their dreams.
The results were pretty much what we’ve all suspected... dogs dream about doggy things. The dream pattern in dogs seems to be very similar to the dream pattern in humans, according to the researchers.
So if you see your dog's paws twitching, they're most likely out in their favourite field running around, or if their mouths move, maybe they're playing with their best pal in the local doggy park - interesting hey!