There’s nothing that can match the feeling of waking up from a really good dream. Opening your eyes, with the memory fresh in your mind; it’s a magical moment. Then reality sets in and your pleasant dream slips away, forgotten.
Dogs dream very similarly to the way us humans do. They have the same two dream stages. The first one we enter upon falling asleep is the slow wave sleep, or SWS. This is where the mind is relaxed but the body has yet to catch up.
The second stage is the more familiar rapid eye movement, or REM cycle. As our bodies relax and we slip into this phase our minds wake back up and start sorting through all of the things we’ve seen and done throughout the day. Not only that, but it also takes all of the things that you thought that day and it rearranges everything into random dream form.
For dogs, the amount and duration of the REM cycle depends greatly upon the size and breed of the dog. Larger breeds, and larger dogs in general, have longer dream periods of 5-10 minutes. Though, they only come around every hour or so. Smaller dogs tend to dream more frequently. They can hit this cycle every 10 minutes, but the duration is much shorter. Their dreams only last around a minute.
Age has also been proven to play a part. Puppies and older dogs dream more often than those in their prime. This is most likely due to the longer sleep periods that the young and old have in common.
If your dog has had a lot of physical activity throughout the day, then they’ll sleep deeper at night and have more physical dreams. If they had a big day running and chasing things; voila, running dreams. While we are likely to dream up strange variations of school or work, dogs are a little more simplistic.
Dreams are often a reflection of our true desires, our inner struggles and our greatest wishes. If the same is true for dogs, then their dreams are probably riddled with big juicy steaks, the best chase of their life and never ending belly rubs. Maybe the occasional nightmare of their humans never coming home. Whatever it is that dogs actually do dream of; I wish them to be pleasant, always.