Second Chance: Dog Dreams

Second Chance: Dog Dreams

Dear Pet Column,

My dog appears to dream when he sleeps, moving his legs and body, whining, growling, while appearing to be in a deep sleep. Do dogs dream and what do they dream of?  Should I wake him up when he is appearing to have a bad dream?


Dreaming Dog Dad


Dear Triple D,

Yes, dogs certainly do dream. And before I elaborate, I would like to point out that we daydream as well. In fact I have been sitting here at Second Chance just dreaming about my new home for the Holidays. We will get back to that and touch upon the content of our dreams shortly…

My scientific research uncovered the fact that dogs actually have very similar sleep patterns and brain activity as humans. We also go through the similar patterns of light to deep sleep modes of increasing brain activity and cycle through these stages several times throughout a night.

And like our human counterparts, once in deeper sleep phase you will notice our breathing becomes more irregular, coupled with the occurrence of rapid eye movement (known as REM – when our eyes are actually watching images within our dreams). It is during REM sleep that actual dreaming takes and place involuntary vocalizations and body movements happen.

As to whether you should wake up a dog which appears to be under distress or having a nightmare – it is not recommended. Like humans, we need uninterrupted sleep for healthy mental activity during our waking hours and we can become very startled if awoken during this dream state. If your pet appears distressed by its dreams, it is better to make a soft noise that alters the pattern of your pet’s sleep without actually waking him.

My research into dreaming has also uncovered interesting mysteries that show that younger dogs and smaller dogs dream more often than older and larger ones. But the biggest mystery is what do dogs dream of? This has been postulated by many and solved by none. There are logical guesses to the fabric of our dreams, involving our everyday existence such as chasing rabbits, being chased by big dogs, swimming, eating bones and the like. But those explanations are boring and limiting – as though we lack imagination, creativity, or spirit.

Are your dreams restricted to eating, working, and playing? You may want to consider the possibility that dogs dreams, like human dreams, include a greater breadth and depth of material – like perhaps turning into a cat and being chased by a large bird, or tying our human up outside a restaurant, in the rain, while he watches us eat bowls of ice cream, or flying or traveling to places with rainbow stars and having conversations with enlightened aliens.

Basically, I don’t think it is as important that you understand the subject matter of our dreams as much as that you help make them come true – which means a loving home for me and all my friends here at Second Chance.

My name is Ruby and I am a 5-year-young, lovely Border collie/Shepherd mix with very big dreams.  I am a sweet and loving girl with a passion for Frisbees and fetching. I enjoy the company of other dogs and dream of one day completing the teleportation device I am devising while I sleep…


I also hear there is a homeless 5-year-young, handsome, orange-and-white cat here at Second Chance named Simba, who is very friendly with other cats and people and who can often be found relaxing in the sun dreaming of his new family as well.


Editor’s note: It’s no secret. The Telluride region is dog heaven. Well, pet heaven. Unless you are one of our furry friends who gets caught in the maw of neglect and abuse. Then heaven is on hold until Second Chance Humane Society comes to the rescue. Second Chance is the region’s nonprofit dedicated to saving animals’ lives and promoting responsible pet parenting and human-animal bond. In her weekly blog, executive director Kelly Goodin profiles at least one, generally two of the many animals now living at the no-kill shelter, Angel Ridge Shelter, a dog and a cat, hoping to find them loving permanent homes. The column is sponsored by Ted Hoff of Cottonwood Ranch & Kennel, who from time to time exercises his skills as a dog whisperer, partnering with Kelly and her staff to help train a particularly challenging animal.

Ted Hoff with Cabella & Wilbur

By the by, there is no better place to park your pup or get your pup (or adult dog) trained than Cottonwood whenever you head out of town (for locals) or are heading to town and staying somewhere that does not allow pets. Consider joining Ted’s Very Important Dog (VID) Club for added benies. (Details on Ted’s website.)

Second Chance Humane Society Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shop are both located in Ridgway, but service San Miguel, Ouray & Montrose Counties. Call the SCHS Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the SCHS Spay/Neuter, Volunteer, Feral Cat, or other Programs. View the shelter pets and services online:

Vetting the Vet: Dr. Michelle Dally, DVM, J.D. is Medical Director of Second Chance Humane Society. She also has a private practice, Dally Veterinary Medicine, 333 S. Elizabeth Street, Ridgway, Colorado. Her service area is  San Miguel Mesas, Placerville, Ridgway, Ouray, and Montrose. For more on Dr. Dally, go here.

Michelle & Wallowby

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