The saying says to “let sleeping dogs lie.” However, what if your dog doesn’t look like it’s sleeping at all? If your dog runs while sleeping it may look as though it’s more activity sleep than it does during your daily walks. The American Kennel Club reports that dogs sleep for about 12 to 14 hours a day, during some of the dog sleep cycle, it may twitch, jerk or even bark. Seeing this can be humorous, but it can also be disconcerting. Is your dog having a nightmare, or Is your dog simply dreaming about chasing a squirrel? This article explains these strange sleeping dog habits.
What Is Normal Dog Sleep Behavior?
The normal sleeping behavior of dogs involves lots of lounging. Experts aren’t sure why dogs spend so much of their lives sleeping. Puppies may sleep 18 to 20 hours a day because their boundless energy makes them tired whereas older dogs may need more rest just to rejuvenate their bodies. Different dog breeds require different amounts of sleep, for example, larger dogs tend to sleep more than smaller dogs. The amount of sleep that a dog needs is also dependent on the animal’s physical activity. Working breeds might not sleep as much as a pet that stays home all day. However, some dogs sleep just because they’re bored. Make sure that your dog is getting enough stimulation throughout the day to keep him from falling asleep out of boredom. Additionally, dogs that are kept busy throughout the day may sleep better at night. This isn’t necessarily a problem for the dog, but a dog that’s up all night may become a problem for its owner.
What’s Normal For A Dog Sleep Cycle?
Dogs have similar sleep cycles as humans, the length of time for which they stay in each stage differs, however. Dogs stay in REM sleep for about 10 percent of their downtime. Humans, on the other hand, spend about 25 percent of their snoozing time in REM sleep. Do dogs dream? Experts believe that dogs do dream during the REM stage. According to Dog Notebook, the muscles are partially paralyzed during this stage and that’s why your dog might shiver or twitch but not take off running across the house. How frequent are REM cycles? The rate of REM sleep depends on the dog. Smaller dogs may have brief dreaming periods every 10 minutes and bigger dogs may not have as many REM cycles, but they tend to have longer dreams.
What’s Normal for A Dog to Do When It Dreams?
When your dog first falls asleep, it is quiet and peaceful. The animal’s breathing will slow down, and it won’t typically notice what’s going on around it. During this stage, the heart rate slows, and the blood pressure drops. Within about 10 minutes, the dog may enter the REM stage of sleep. During this time, it’s normal for a dog to twitch; the tail may move, or the skin along the dog’s entire body may jerk gently. Sometimes, a dog may move its paws as though it is running. During REM sleep, the eyelids may open, revealing the whites of the dog’s eyes, additionally a dog’s whiskers or lips may quiver, and he may cry out or whimper. If your dog barks in its sleep, it is not necessarily having a bad dream. Barking is one of the only ways that dogs can communicate.
Is Twitching During Sleep Affected by Where Dogs Sleep?
How is the REM stage of dog sleep affected by the location of where it sleeps? Do dogs dream more if they sleep alone or with their owners? If a dog is frequently woken throughout a sleep cycle, it may not linger in REM sleep very long. Therefore, if your dog’s bed is in the living room where the kids are always running around, you may not see your dog dreaming very often. However, that dog may sleep more often to try to make up for the lack of REM sleep.
Dogs that sleep through the night with their owners or in their crates may fall into REM sleep more easily. If your dog sleeps with you, you may wake up to its movements or cries. Where should your dog sleep? That’s up to you.
How Can You Tell the Difference Between a Dream and a Seizure?
There are several ways to tell the difference between dreams and seizures. During a dream, a dog’s eyes may be open or closed, or they may flicker open from time to time. During a seizure, a dog’s eyes are usually wide open, like a deer in headlights, with a blank look in its eyes.
Dreaming happens only while dogs are asleep; seizures can happen at any time. They can even occur during moments of alertness and activity. The motions that the body makes during a seizure tend to last longer than the short bursts that occur during a dream. Also, during a seizure, the body goes rigid; during a dream, the body often looks playful and relaxed. The movements associated with a seizure are also more violent than those that happen during a dream.
When having a seizure, dogs may foam at the mouth, vomit, urinate or defecate. This shouldn’t happen when dogs are dreaming. Dogs that are having seizures will be impossible to wake up until the seizure is over. Although it may be hard to wake your dreaming dog, it’s not impossible. If you do try to wake a sleeping dog, try not to touch it, instead use only your voice.
Should you let a sleeping dog lie? If you have a dog that moves around a lot in its sleep, you probably shouldn’t try to wake it up. Dogs need plenty of uninterrupted sleep for optimal brain development. A few barks, twitches, and yips are perfectly normal for most dogs. If you’re ever concerned about your dog’s sleeping patterns contact your vet.