How many times can you count watching your dog running while sleeping? Of course they are dreaming about chasing that next squirrel or perhaps a day running through the park, right? So do our dogs and cats indeed dream as we do? The answer is yes.
Stanley Coren, author of “Do Dogs Dream? Nearly Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know,” states that a dog’s dream cycle is keenly close to a human’s dream cycle from wakefulness, rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep. After about 20 minutes, dogs will enter REM lasting for about 2 or 3 minutes. "What we've basically found is that dogs dream doggy things," Coren said. "So, Pointers will point at dream birds, and Dobermans will chase dream burglars. The dream pattern in dogs seems to be very similar to the dream pattern in humans."
Researchers also know more about cats dreaming from early sleep studies. Again with the same sleep patterns as humans, once cats hit REM, leaping up or pouncing is not uncommon as if acting out events throughout their day.
What about nightmares? Yes, the American Kennel Club says our pets can also have an unpleasant dream. If you are noticing a bit more movement than normal that may signal your pet is having a nightmare. Avoid waking them suddenly (especially a dog). Just like a human, it may take a minute or two to return to full wakefulness after waking suddenly, so let your dog fully awaken to avoid a potential scare that could result in a bite.
So next time you smile when seeing a phantom run from your dog or a sudden leap from your cat, you will know now that they dream big too.