Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Psychological Guide to Your Dog’s Dreams, Emotions, 
Interests & Tail-Wagging 
Body Language

Do Dogs Dream?

From studies of electrical recordings of the rat hippocampus (an area of the brain associated with memory formation and storage), made while the rats were awake and learning a maze, Wilson and Louie found that some electrical patterns were quite specific and identifiable, depending on what the rat was doing. Later, when the rats were asleep and their brain waves indicated that they had entered the stage in which humans normally dream, these same electrical patterns appeared. The patterns were so clear and specific that the researchers were able to tell where in the maze the rat would be if it were awake, and whether it would be moving or standing still.

Since a dog’s brain is more complex than a rat’s and shows the same electrical sequences, it is reasonable to assume that dogs dream as well. There is also evidence that they dream about common dog activities. The human brain stem contains a special structure, the pons, that keeps us from acting out our dreams. When scientists removed or inactivated this same part of the brain in dogs, they observed that the dogs began to move around, even though electrical recordings of the dogs’ brains indicated that they were still fast asleep. The animals started to move only when the brain entered that stage of sleep associated with dreaming. During the course of a dream episode, the dogs actually began to execute the actions they were performing in their dreams. For example, a dreaming pointer may immediately start searching for game, a sleeping springer spaniel may flush an imaginary bird, and a dreaming Doberman pinscher may pick a fight with a dream burglar.

It is an odd fact that small dogs have more dreams than big dogs do. A dog as small as a toy poodle may dream once every 10 minutes, while a large dog like a mastiff or a Great Dane may have about an hour between dreams. On the other hand, the big dog’s dreams last longer.

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