Yes Virginia, dogs do dream

So, you got your first puppy during COVID, and you’ve noticed some cute yipping, feet moving, tail wagging, and even barking when you could swear they’re sound asleep. Do dogs dream? In short, the experts think so and believe it’s similar to the way humans do it, according to a story on

Dogs do experience both slow-wave and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, says Dr. Stanley Coren, a UBC animal behaviour expert. And that’s the same type of sleep humans have when they dream, suggesting they replay their day like us while they’re sawing logs … or peeing on the neighbour’s shrub in their case.

During REM sleep, our brain is almost as active as it is when we are awake. In this phase of sleep, breathing can become fast and irregular and is thought to be when the brain consolidates memories, says the article.

Further, researchers at MIT showed through a study with rats that they dreamed about the maze they ran that day by measuring their brain activity while they were in REM sleep, finding it was the same as when they were running for real, says a story on the American Kennel Club website.

Since rats are “intellectually less complex than dogs,” the assumption is they dream just as rats do, says the article.

While dogs often bark or twitch their legs during REM sleep, the Sleep Foundation reports some of the signs can be breed-specific. For example, a Pointer might search for game and even point while asleep, says the story. A Springer Spaniel might flush a bird in his dream.

AKC columnist Stanley Coren says to know if a dog is dreaming, watch their eyes, and if they are moving behind their lids, they’re doing it.

In terms of how often dogs dream, apparently, size matters, according to the AKC story. Coren says small dogs dream more often during one night than big dogs, with a new one every ten minutes. While puppies and seniors dream more than middle-aged dogs.

Now, the question is, are they dreaming about you?