Dogs can be very demanding pets, always wanting to be walked, pleading for attention or begging for food. You might expect to get some peace when your dog takes a nap, but that’s not always the case! Dogs can bark, whimper, growl or twitch in their sleep. This behavior is totally natural and is generally nothing to worry about, but the reasons behind it are interesting.
The reason why dogs bark in their sleep is because they have dreams just like humans do. Like people, dogs go through a dream stage of the sleep cycle every time they go to sleep. You can tell when your pet is slipping into that stage by watching their eyes. Dreaming occurs in a stage of sleep known as REM (which stands for rapid eye movement).
During this stage, you will notice the dog’s eyelids twitching rapidly as his eyes move beneath them. It is during this stage of sleep that your dog is likely to bark or make other noises such as growling or whimpering.
What do dogs dream about?
However, from what we know about human dreaming, we can guess that dogs’ dreams are related to the activities they take part in during the day.
When your dog is barking or growling, it probably means that he or she is reliving a memory of a situation that caused him to bark or growl in real life, or dreaming about a similar situation that could arise. Dreaming is an important way for humans and animals to process their experiences and learn from them.
Should you wake your dog up when he is barking in his sleep?
Most experts say no. Just because a dog is barking, you cannot be sure that he is having a bad dream; he could simply be excited about chasing a rabbit or playing with a new toy.
Even if your dog is having a nightmare, waking him up in the middle of the dream could be even more frightening than letting the dream continue.
Being woken up in the middle of REM sleep can be very shocking and disorienting, which could cause your dog to snap at you, so it is best to leave him alone.
Another reason to leave your dog asleep is that he needs all the rest he can get! Dogs’ bodies and brains are often very active during the day as they run around and take on board new experiences. Getting enough sleep is vital to allow your pooch to recharge his batteries and stay physically and mentally healthy.
If you wake your dog up in the middle of a sleep cycle, he will not get the maximum benefit from that sleep, and he made find it difficult to drift off again. It is better to leave him be until he wakes naturally.
Dogs who bark in their sleep can be a nuisance, but it is better to let them lie. If your dog’s dreaming is disturbing your sleep, try moving its bed into a room further away from your bedroom. Also, check that your dog is actually sleeping when he barks during the night. It might be that he is in fact awake and trying to attract your attention. He could be bored, restless, lonely, thirsty, or too hot or too cold.
What if he’s not dreaming?
If you find that your dog is in fact not dreaming but lying awake at night calling for you, then make sure his sleeping environment is comfortable and he has access to fresh drinking water. You can also try giving him more attention and exercise during the day to help him get to sleep more easily.
Barking while sleeping is a normal doggy behavior. When you hear your pooch dreaming loudly, don’t panic and don’t wake him up. Dreamy barking doesn’t necessarily mean that he is unhappy. It could simply be that your dog is dreaming about playing a game or exploring a new park. Help your dog to sleep calmly by making sure he gets plenty of exercise and playtime during his waking hours.