We have all seen it before. Our dog is sound asleep and starts shaking, growling, and making noises like they are experiencing a terrible dog nightmare. In this article, I will share some research that Lisa put together for us, specifically around waking a dog from a bad dream. You can read more about dog dreams in her other article.
Let’s discuss waking up a dog from a dream…
Should I Wake My Dog Up From A Bad Dream?
You should not wake your dog up from a bad dream. A sudden change from dreaming to wakefulness may startle your dog and result in fearful or aggressive behavior when they wake up. It’s best to let sleeping dogs lie, even if they are having a nightmare.
Do dogs dream, and what should you do about a particularly vivid dream that’s making your dog seem stressed? Here’s what you need to know about the dream world and your dreaming dog.
It can be a downright traumatic experience to watch your dog whine, whimper, and twitch as they experience deep sleep. Older dogs can be especially anxiety provoking as you worry about their well-being and whether they’re having a seizure. However, complex dreams and small and large muscles twitching along with brain waves is normal.
Should I Wake my Dog Up From a Dream? What About a Nightmare?
As with humans, there are risks associated with waking a dog up from a doggy bad dream.
Children especially should be taught these risks, as well as the best course of action to take to keep everyone safe. Countless experts agree you should let a sleeping dog lie and dream.
Your Dog’s REM Sleep is Important
Ensuring your dog gets a significant amount of sleep during a regular sleep cycle is vital for their health and happiness. It is important to note your dog, like you, requires uninterrupted sleep for your health.
Experts and scientists recommend providing your best friend with a quiet, comfortable area to rest without distractions. Dreaming is a healthy, normal occurrence experienced during a regular 24-hour cycle of wakefulness and sleep.
But Your Precious Pups Feeling Distressed!
Often a pet owner will see their dog in what appears to be a fitful dream, the dog could be whimpering or appear to be running in its sleep. It is during this time you may be tempted to awaken your pet in fear they may be in danger.
With a better understanding of the brain, it is found the body has a built-in mechanism for most people and dogs to keep them from acting upon these dreams.
Your dog may be experiencing a Rapid Eye Movement (REM) cycle, or rem sleep. This is the deepest state of our sleeping, and is typically when we have the most dreams. Because of this, you may see your dogs eyes rapidly twitching behind their closed eyelids.
You may also hear barks, whimpering, twitching paws, or other signs of distress or anxiety during this stage of sleep. That’s because your this is when there is the most brain activity, and your canine companion’s brain is actively engaged in well, something.
If not for the unique anatomy of our brains, your dog would likely get up and start acting out their dream thoughts!
Human and dog brains include a safety feature: the pons.
The pons is the portion of the brain which keeps humans and dogs from physically acting out dreams.
Like his owner, a dog will relive the details of his busy day. He may experience sleep runs as he fetches a ball, chases a cat, or happily runs with his owner.
If our brains and our dogs’ brains did not have the pons, we might act out everything we dreamed about, often with disastrous results. However, if you feel your dog is experiencing a violent nightmare, there are a few suggestions to help your best friend awake in a friendly manner while avoiding serious consequences like bitings.
- Speak softly to your dog using your voice and not yelling or clapping your hands to get your dog to wake up or try playing some quiet music. If your dog was experiencing a vivid dream, waking them up abruptly will leave your dog disoriented, confused, or possibly aggressive as they may not yet recognize they are awake.
- When your dog is fully awake, comfort them with love and attention, letting them know you are there and everything is ok.
To help your dog fall back to restful sleep, give them a familiar toy, t-shirt with your scent, or favorite blanket to help them drift back to a peaceful sleep.
Related Content You May Find Interesting
Here are some more articles that may be of interest to you if you’re thinking about how dogs sleep.
- Waking a dog up from a bad dream is not recommended
- A sudden change from dreaming to wakefulness may startle and result in fearful or aggressive behavior in dogs
- Dogs, like humans, require uninterrupted sleep for their health and happiness
- Providing a quiet, comfortable area for dogs to rest without distractions is important
- Dreaming is a healthy, normal occurrence during a regular sleep cycle
- Dogs may experience Rapid Eye Movement (REM) cycle during sleep, which is the deepest state of sleep and when most dreams occur
- The pons, a portion of the brain, keeps dogs from physically acting out dreams
- Speak softly or play quiet music to gently wake up dogs from vivid dreams
- Comfort dogs with love and attention when they are fully awake
- Give dogs a familiar toy, t-shirt with owner’s scent, or favorite blanket to help them fall back to restful sleep