The other night, early in the morning, I awoke from a deep sleep and let out the most heartbreaking cries imaginable. Once again I thought one of the animals was seriously injured and was standing upright to see who was in such a dire situation. As usual, everyone was fine and nothing was too much trouble.
But it’s a more frequent occurrence than my husband and I would like.
A typical culprit for this barking is Peaty, a stray dog that was adopted from a shelter many years ago. Research has concluded that dogs can dream of certain events in their lives because they have long-term memory. We don’t know anything about Petey’s past, but we do know that she had some mental trauma that apparently haunts her sleep to this day.
Her “dog dreams” are more intense than the usual little yips, etc. I’ve heard from other animals (present and past), so here’s more on why dogs have bad dreams and what you can do to help them. I wanted to know. .
The first question posed is, “Do dogs actually dream?” Some scientists think so. In fact, they believe that dogs not only dream just like us, they dream just like us, recreating moments of the day while they sleep.
Stanley Coren, PhD, Ph.D., FRSC, Emeritus Professor of Psychology and Neuropsychological Researcher at the University of British Columbia (https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/canine-corner) studied the activity. He compared brain activity during sleep cycles to that of humans. He found that dogs show the same pattern of brain activity during REM sleep in humans.
In humans, dreams are directly related to rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This deep sleep stage can be recognized by rapid eye movements, facial and limb twitching, irregular breathing, and increased brain activity. During REM sleep, the brain is activated and the brain is active, so we dream.
External signs of REM sleep in dogs include paw “paddling”, facial muscle twitching, barking, grunting, and rapid eye movements. Rapid EEG patterns recorded during the dog’s REM sleep cycle show that physical activity is indicative of a dreaming state.
People dream of processing memories and sorting out emotions. The most widely accepted theory is that dreams are the brain’s way of processing all the data it takes in. In many ways, the dog’s brain looks and functions exactly like the human brain. We share many of the same basic physical characteristics and our brain waves go through the same stages of electrical activity. All of this is consistent with the idea that dogs can and do dream.
If we believe dogs can dream, we have to believe they can have nightmares too. Humans have nightmares about what they fear, so it makes sense that dogs do too.
We understand that the human memory version and the dog memory version are two different things. Humans retain memories and images of positive and negative experiences and encounters. For dogs, long-term memory is the imprint of events.
Imprinting is defined as any kind of phase-sensitive learning. That learning usually takes place at a certain age or life stage. It is rapid and apparently independent of action consequences. It is used to describe a situation in which an animal learns the characteristics of some stimulus and it is said to be “imprinted” into the animal.
Negative events, such as abuse or traumatic events, that dogs match (imprint) to people, places, and things can remain with them for the rest of their lives. Therefore, it is not difficult to guess that these unpleasant traces may be the cause of many dogs’ bad dreams.
Here are some other things about dog dreams. Small dogs seem to dream more often than large dogs, but their dreams are shorter in duration. Large dogs may have fewer dreams, but they last longer. REM sleep is also thought to interfere with the body’s signals that allow it to regulate body temperature.
Small animals lose heat faster than larger animals, so they wake up more often to regulate their body temperature. A recent study in Hungary found that dogs sleep better and dream more after an active day, and are less likely to dream when they sleep in an unfamiliar environment. Did.
The next question becomes, “What would we do if these ‘nightmares’ happened to our animals?” The consensus is that you shouldn’t overreact and “put a sleeping dog to sleep”. Considering that dogs are likely to respond by biting when they wake up from a frightening situation, this is very good advice. But that advice can be hard to follow when you wake up from a deep sleep at 2am. A light poke of the foot under the cover usually seems to help.
When we brought Petey home, she was unable to verbalize her former “life.” We don’t have any evidence, but we think she hasn’t experienced much human kindness or joy. Therefore, our days focus on creating a safe and comfortable home, continuing a happy experience to replace the ugly one, and always wishing to provide a better dream. But now, even if she has nightmares, at least she’s by our side, protected and loved in her soft bed.