Sleep is thought to assist in the general growth and repair of all body systems. But do dogs dream? Studies indicate all mammals do, and this extends further to include vertebrates. Dreams serve the purpose of processing information and daily experiences to build memory, which explains why new-born puppies do it so often; the world is fresh and exciting to them, and there is a lot to take in!
Research on rats, comparing their brain activity during certain cycles of sleep and whilst awake and performing exploratory maze tasks, showed similar areas lighting up, thus indicating that there is a strong association between the two. Of all phases, REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is when canines are vividly dreaming, as their brain activity mirrors that of being in an awake state, and you may find it extremely difficult to rouse your furry friend from this stage. Smaller dogs are believed to have shorter, more frequent dreams, whereas they are longer and less frequent in larger breeds.
The pons is the part of the brain stem that helps with controlling sleep cycles, regulating deep sleep, and inhibiting larger muscle groups from moving whilst snoozing. Puppies noticeably twitch, whimper, and even run whilst they are dreaming, as the pons is underdeveloped in little ones, and therefore less able to disable the acting out of their nocturnal visions.
Whilst pooches tend to dream in muted colours, with shades of yellow, blue and grey, pusses favour blue, grey and green. This ties in with their limited range of colour vision whilst awake.
It is recommended to ‘let sleeping dogs lie’, as waking animals suddenly may result in aggression due to disorientation. Their primary concern is ensuring their own protection, and they may feel attack is the best form of defence. ❤