Is your dog dreaming? – The background to dogs’ dream whimpers

Dog owners often notice strange behaviours while their dog sleeps, such as leg twitching, eyeball movements and even whining.

Like humans, dogs dream and this dreaming can be the source of their whining.

But why does your dog whine in his sleep?

Stay tuned for a better understanding of the phenomenon of dogs whimpering in their sleep!

The dream cycles

Like humans, dogs dream and experience their dreams during the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep phase.

During REM, dogs' brains are almost as active as when they are awake. Dreaming usually occurs during this period, i.e. when your dog is whimpering or twitching, meaning the dog is doing some kind of dream activity.

What happens in the dream?

Experts say that dogs process everyday events in their dreams. Perhaps they are 're-enacting' playing with a ball, a walk in the park or learning a new trick.

If your beagle whimpers and his leg twitches in his dream, it's possible he's reprocessing the memory of the duck chase he had on his morning walk.

Why does your dog whine in his sleep?

Whining is often a "vocalisation" of dream actions. During dream time, dogs often 'act out' their dreams – jerking their legs as if they are running and whimpering as if they are barking, howling or communicating.

If your border collie is chasing rabbits in her dream, the whining is likely to accompany this dream activity.

sleeping dog

When should we be worried?

Whining in dreams is usually completely normal and harmless.

However, if your dog is whining too often or very loudly, or is showing other abnormal symptoms such as seizures, or is having difficulty waking up, you should see your vet to rule out any medical problems!

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Sleep whining is often part of a dog's sleep cycle, and also helps your dog to process the experiences of the day.

So the next time your Labrador Retriever, for example, whines in his sleep, don't worry – he's probably just 're-watching' his daytime adventures.

Watching these moments can bring us even closer to our four-legged friends, as we can get a glimpse of what's going on in their heads – even in their sleep.