Not all human dreams are good. We conclude that dogs can have nightmares too. These nightmares are hard to watch. It can be tempting to wake your dog up to comfort him like you would a child, but there are some risks associated with dog nightmares that you should share with your family.
It’s tempting to wake a pet that shows signs of stress like whimpering, twitching, or shaking during sleep. According to the American Kennel Club, owners should leave sleeping dogs lying around. “Disturbing a dog during REM sleep can have serious consequences,” says the AKC.
Nightmares are much more likely to occur in dogs that have had a past trauma or abusive experience. If these behaviors are more aggressive, a loud bark, shaking, etc., this may be a sign that your dog is not dreaming but is having a nightmare.
Nightmares, on the other hand, can result in your dog groaning in conjunction with twitching paws and eyes. They may even howl, whine, whimper, or even bark an alarm. If the nightmare is stressful enough, your dog might just wake up suddenly like you, or I might snap awake from a particularly upsetting nightmare.
A dog’s sleep cycle
Fun fact: Smaller dogs have shorter REM periods and larger dogs have longer ones. REM or rapid eye movement, sleep is when dreams occur. This is the sleep phase when your dog can “act out” his dreams by moving his legs or paws, making faces, growling, whimpering or crying.
Should you pet a sleeping dog? Petting dogs when they are sleeping can disturb their sleep. As a general rule, it’s a good idea not to touch a sleeping dog unless the dog is whimpering or shaking. In this case, a gentle stroking can help calm the dog.
“There is no reason to believe that animals are different. Since dogs are generally very attached to their human owners, it is likely that your dog has dreams about your face, your scent, and about pleasing or teasing you.”
Dogs having a seizure cannot be easily awakened, while dreaming dogs can. Dogs that have a seizure are often disoriented afterwards and may drool and pant. Infested dogs may urinate or defecate on themselves, while dreaming dogs typically do not.