The characteristic sounds and movements that a dog makes while sleeping show that these animals are, in fact, able to dream!
Last update: 20 March, 2018
A sleeping dog can be quite a sight. Some snort, grunt, bark and even move their legs, simulating a run through a fictitious park. Since their sleeping hours are unevenly distributed, it can take some time before owners are able to predict their pets’ most active periods.
How many hours of sleep do dogs need?
Sleep patterns in dogs vary by age, size, and hours of daily exercise. Naturally, a puppy will sleep more hours than an adult, and a Saint Bernard will spend more hours sleeping than a Chihuahua
Larger dogs and puppies sleep for an average of 18 hours a day. The sleep cycle of an average adult dog is between 12 and 14 hours.
Although 50% of the hours a dog spends sleeping take place at night, it is normal for him to take various naps spread unevenly throughout the day. The underlying reason for this distribution has to do with his REM phase.
Humans spend 25% of their sleep hours in REM phase, a time of high brain activity in which mammals assimilate the stimuli they have received from their environment.
Dogs, on the other hand, only spend 10% of their hours in this phase. Therefore, to be able to enjoy a suitable amount of rest for their health, they tend to take several naps during daytime hours.
Yes, they dream too!
The characteristic sounds and movements that a dog makes while sleeping prove this fact; these animals are able to dream.
Like any other brain, theirs also needs to process all the information they have collected during the day, and dreaming, as we all know, is the most effective brain mechanism to achieve this.
A study in which canine brain waves were compared with humans concluded that they too have two phases of sleep, REM phase and slow wave phase.
The latter corresponds to the initial phase of sleep: brain activity slows down and the cardiorespiratory rhythm begins to decrease.
The REM phase corresponds to the deep sleep stage. The rapid eye movement that gives this phase its name is widely known.
During this phase, there is a slight acceleration of the heart rate, as well as body spasms, dreams and even sexual arousal. The fact that dogs have two sleep phases is irrefutable proof that they dream.
Exercise is crucial for better canine sleep hygiene
Physical and mental stimulation, both in dogs and humans, is key to maintaining healthy sleep habits. Contrary to what many believe, if our pet does not exercise or receive intellectual stimuli, he will sleep more hours.
This is because inactivity causes insomnia, which perpetuates sleep imbalances and decreases considerably an animal’s quality of life.
A responsible owner should commit to providing his/her pet with at least a half-hour of daily exercise. This time should, of course, increase for larger and more energetic breeds, including hunting dogs and watchdogs.
A simple walk before and after going to work can make a difference in his sleep habits. To make this time more complete, once you leave your dog at home to go to the office, we recommend that you leave some kind of stimulating toy where your dog can find it.
We must bear in mind, however, that the activities with which our pet fills his spare time will be determine his sleep cycle. A guide dog, for example, or a police dog, spends most of the day alert, as they have a sort of working day to complete. A pet who spends hours at home waiting for his owner does what he wants. And this usually means going back to bed.