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Why do dogs bark in their sleep?

 by jennifer on 26 Mar 2021 |
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We know humans dream, but modern science has confirmed that our dogs do, too. Here’s what it means when Fido barks during a dream.
Why do dogs bark in their sleep?

Thanks to modern science, we know a great deal about what it means when dogs bark in their sleep. Our pets’ brains are structured similarly to our own, including their ability to dream in vivid ways that can create real-world reactions while Fido is fast asleep.

Scientists studying canine brains have found that dogs experience dreams similarly to humans. When your companion makes noises, his eyelids twitch, or his feet set to “running” in his sleep, it is likely that he is in the stage of slumber known as rapid eye movement, or REM. Though he may appear restless during these motions, your pet is actually in a very deep sleep. This is when dreams occur in both dogs and humans, leading to the barks, whimpers and even growls that you sometimes see when Fido is fast asleep. These conscious-world movements are simply his way of acting out what he is dreaming.

Though we will likely never know what exactly our pets dream about, we can surmise from human dreams that dogs’ sleeping minds often relive activities they participate in during waking hours. When your pet barks in his sleep, he is likely dreaming about a situation that would cause him to bark in waking life, such as seeing another dog or chasing a rabbit. Just like it is for humans, dreaming is an important way animals process their experiences and learn from them, making it an important part of his daily routine. Some pet parents become concerned when the companions appear distressed during sleep, but experts largely agree that this is not cause to wake a sleeping pet. Sleep-running may indicate your dog is chasing a rabbit, and growls can be a sign of playing tug-of-war with a new treasured toy. Even if he is having a bad dream, waking your dog  can be just as disorienting as the dream itself and could even lead your pet to snap at you, so it is best to him finish this REM cycle of sleep. Besides, getting enough sleep is a crucial part of your pet’s health, allowing his body to recharge and his mind to process the day. Just like humans, waking a dog in the middle of his sleep cycle leads to poor-quality sleep, so it is best to let Fido continue his dreams.
There are times when dogs are actually awake and crying during the night. If you find this is the case for your pet, check that his sleeping spot is comfortable and not too hot or cold, and that he has access to fresh water. Dogs that are under-stimulated during the day sometimes have trouble staying asleep, so be sure your companion is getting plenty of playtime and exercise during daylight hours to help him sleep better at night. If he is simply making sounds in his sleep that disrupt your own slumber, try moving his bed further from your own to ensure you both get a good night’s rest.


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