Does My Dog Have Nightmares?
6 February, 2012

My friend, Donna, was worried that her sweet dog, Jessie, was having nightmares.  I wondered if nightmares are common in dogs.  Apparently, there have been studies conducted that show that our beloved dogs do dream.  And, therefore it is inevitable that they will sometimes have nightmares too.

A doting dog owner (i.e. Donna) who can hardly take her eyes off her beloved son (Jessie) will be upset to see the pet twitching, whimpering, kicking and practically freaking out while he is asleep. Although a nightmare is not as worse as night terror, dog owners still feel helpless to see the agitated sleeping pet.


WHY DO DOGS HAVE NIGHTMARES?

No one truly knows what goes on inside the mind of a dog. It is also not known why nightmares occur. In humans, nightmares can be associated with a traumatic experience. It is therefore possible for an abused dog to have nightmares.

If your dog is prone to nightmares, below are some tips to help you and your dog deal with it:

I had a nightmare!

LET HIM SLEEP

If you notice your dog dreaming and possibly having a nightmare, for instance twitching eyelids, paws flailing, yelping or whimpering, it’s probably best to let him continue to sleep–since deep rest is important–plus, waking him may cause confusion.

However, if your dog does wake up on his or her own, soothe your dog’s fear by talking in a soft voice. Gentle patting will also reassure your dog that you are right next to him.

GIVE YOUR DOG HIS FAVORITE TOY

You can try giving your dog his favorite toy and put it next to him as he sleeps.  This will give him a calm feeling when resting and could help him dream happily.  It works for infant children, so it could only help our canine companions as well.

CALL OUT YOUR DOG’S NAME

If you’re worried that your dog is having a seizure or your dog seems too distressed, then call out his or her name. It’s best not to touch a sleeping dog since they may snap or bite as a reflex. If it is a seizure, you will probably be able to tell right away. And if isn’t as seizure, you’ll know when you try to wake your dog. You’ll be able to wake your dog if it is a dream, but not if it’s a seizure.

WRITE DOWN THE FREQUENCY

If your dog’s sleeping behavior seems unusual and he or she has continual nightmares, keep a diary or informational account of when the dreams occur, what your dog ate and how long before going to sleep, and what noises, if any, were going on in the house. This information may be valuable to a vet (or pet behavior specialist) in determining the cause.

I hope these tips help and that your dogs sleep soundly through the night.  However if your dog does have a nightmare, they (like humans) will most likely forget it by the next day!

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