The dog food firm Wagg has conducted a survey into canine sleep behaviour. 1000 British dog owners were questioned and the results have proved to be very interesting. If your pooch has exhibited some strange behaviour during their naps, they are certainly not alone!
An incredible 27% of those surveyed reported that they had discovered their dog prowling around the house in their sleep whilst a massive 67% had witnessed their mutts running as if they were in the park! So, dogs love their walkies so much they are even doing it whilst they sleep.
Dogs must be experiencing some very impressive dreams because 99% of owners said that their pets have vivid dreams. Most could guess what their dog was dreaming about from their behaviour. For instance, 40% reported that their pooches growled whilst napping and so presumed that they were dreaming about a confrontation with another dog or a visit from the postman!
66% of dog owners have heard their pet barking or vocalising so dog appear to talk in their sleep just like people. Tail wagging was reported by more than a third of owners. Presumably, those dogs were having a happy dream about a visit from a favourite friend or the discovery of a large plate of sausages!
Whilst most dog owners clearly believe that their pets dream, the survey does not constitute proof. As dogs are unable to talk human, we can’t exactly ask them what they are dreaming about. It is also impossible for an owner to know whether their dog is truly asleep when they witness them walking or running.
In humans, sleepwalking is linked to the dream phase of our sleep cycle. If dogs are really sleep walking, then this supports the idea that they are dreaming. It is known that dogs have similar sleep phases to humans.
Research has been conducted into canine dreaming. In both dogs and humans an area of the brain stem called the pons paralyses the large muscles during sleep to prevent sleepers acting out their dreams. The pons is underdeveloped in puppies and may not work as efficiently in older dogs making these animals more likely to twitch or move about.
Studies in which the muscle-paralyzing part of the pons is temporarily deactivated are the only way to explore the world of doggy dreams. With the pons deactivated, studies have shown that dogs do start to act out their dreams. Researchers found that dogs must be dreaming uniquely canine things as pointers will point in their dreams as if they have seen a bird and Dobermans chase imaginary people. Smaller dogs were found to have shorter but more frequent dreams than
Mischievous Night Time Behaviour
The Wagg survey also questioned owners about night time behaviour to see if it was possible to determine which were the naughtiest breeds. Boxers appear to be the most restless dogs at night with 82% of their owners reporting that their dog often got up in the night to cause mischief.
Perhaps a little surprisingly, spaniels were the best behaved dogs at night. Maybe they wore themselves out during the day with all that frenetic activity!
Have you witnessed your dog sleepwalking and does your dog ever appear to be dreaming?