We’ve all watched our four-legged chum’s nose twitch away, legs move as if running and listened to their muffled barks while they’re sleeping. After a day spent running around on the beach or in the countryside and sniffing around the back garden, it’s easy to see what they could be dreaming about.
What you may not have realised however is, according to new research by Harvard psychologists, your dog is likely to be dreaming about you too – their human – the most important thing in their life.
Dr Deirdre Barrett, a clinical and evolutionary psychologist at Harvard Medical School, carried out extensive research into sleep behaviour and concluded that is a reasonable assumption that your dog dreams very much in the same way you do. Dogs dream about daily experiences, and similarly to humans, these may often seem more creative and slightly strange in comparison to what actually occurred. Experts therefore theorise that dogs dream not in a logical way, but more visually about what they find interesting and the things that they are emotionally attached to.
As Dr Barrett explains, ‘since dogs are generally extremely attached to their human owners, it’s likely your dog is dreaming of your face, your smell and of pleasing or annoying you.’
The comparable sleep pattern of humans and dogs is further evidenced by the presence of different stages of sleep. Like their human owners, while dogs are sleeping they go through stages of deep sleep and stages of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. It is in the REM sleep stages that dogs dream.
There is a mechanism in human brains that ordinarily keeps our muscles from moving while we sleep. In some instances, however, this mechanism can falter and individuals may act out what they are dreaming about while they are still asleep.
This is the same for dogs. If this mechanism in the brain weakens, while your dog is sleeping you’ll be able to watch on in amusement as they chase that stick you kept throwing for them yesterday, run through fields, and most importantly, while they dream of your face and your scent – the biggest comfort too them.
If that isn’t a reason to give your beloved pooch an extra belly rub today, we don’t what is!