States of Consciousness: What Do Dogs Dream About?

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Dreams can be explained as subconscious imaginings that is projected with sounds, images, and sensations while a person is asleep. For humans’ beings, this is a very common experience, but humans are not the only ones to sense it. Dogs also may twitch their legs or even bark in their sleep, but does that mean a dog is actually dreaming? Many scientists say there is evidence to support the idea that dogs, in fact, have dreams like humans. An article in the Psychology Today by Stanley Coren (2010) suggested that at a structural level, the brains of dogs are similar to those of humans. Dogs sleep more than humans do, at no specific times or schedules; even though dogs cannot communicate what they are dreaming about, however people can foretell what the animal might be dreaming about. In fact, the reason why humans being dream might be same reason dogs and other animals dream as well.

Dogs are one of the most intelligent animals in the whole world. Their ability to understand commands and learn new skills makes them a very special creature. According to Professor Stanly Coren, a leading expert on canine intelligence at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, “The average dog is about as bright linguistically as a human two-year-old”. This means dogs can be able to understand human commands, words, and gestures. Dogs’ ability to dream is no surprise, the brains of dogs are similar to those of humans. Also, during sleep, the brain waves patterns of dogs are similar to humans’ and go through the same stages of electrical activity observed in humans, all of which are consistent with the idea that dogs are dreaming (‘Do Dogs Dream?’, Phycology Today). This means a dog’s brain is not so different than a human brain, and this is why dogs can experience dreams and see images while they sleep. Since no dog has ever told anyone about a dream he's had, we can only guess. It's likely that dogs dream in a similar fashion to humans, replaying the everyday activities that make up their existence, like chasing, playing, and eating (‘Do Dogs Dream?’, Pedigree). In other words, dogs can dream about their day or their daily activities like chasing other animals or being chased by something.

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“Dog’s dreams are resembled their daily activities just like human’s dreams. Dreams are made from memories and experience, but it’s not simply memory of experience”, - Wilson says. The replays are often broken up into little pieces that are put together in different ways. They create, he says, “new scenes built from old content that can be used to convey, emphasize, highlight or otherwise capture some kind of meaningful point” (‘Do Dogs Dream?’, PETMD). Dogs dream because of the same reason humans’ dream. Humans’ dreams are usually about thoughts, recent activities, conversations, or other issues in their lives; very similar to dogs. We all also have similarly high levels of brain activity during this stage of sleep, and have a brain structure called the Pons Varolii - which paralyzes our major muscles during REM sleep to keep us from moving around too much and ‘acting out’ our dreams–in common (‘Do Dogs Dream?’, PETMD). Dogs and humans go through this stage of REM while sleeping, for instance creatures that go through this stage means they are actually dreaming.

There is a lot of evidence that dogs can dream, but can other animals dream as well? Insects and fish don't experience REM sleep, but some birds and all mammals do. Reptiles might also experience REM, and some scientists argue that our mammalian dreaming might be a holdover from our reptilian brains (‘FYI: Do Animals Dream?’). This means not all the animals are able to dream. A 2001 study in the journal Neuron compared the brain patterns of rats running through a maze with their brain patterns during REM sleep. The scientists said the brain patterns were very similar and concluded the rats were dreaming about their run through the maze (‘Do Animals dream?’, EarthSky). Surprisingly little animals such as rats are able to dream as well; even though there is no evidence that other animals might be able to dream, there is a possibility that more animals can dream as well and experience all the stages of sleep.

Overall, many animals could have the same experience as dogs do. Since dogs’ brain is very similar to those of humans at the structural level, they are capable to recall activities they have during the day through the same phases when they sleep. In addition, dogs are considered man’s best friend, they are truly loyal, intelligent and now their capacity to dream make them even more amazing.

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States of Consciousness: What Do Dogs Dream About? (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from
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