What Does It Mean When Your Dog Barks While Sleeping?
9 December, 2014
Dog Barks While Sleeping

We love how our dogs are such loving and fun companions.  They are sometimes verbal with their barking and/or they can tell us what they are thinking by just looking at them or their non-verbal cues. They will whimper or stand by the door when they want to go on a walk or nudge you to feed them.  But, what about if our dogs growl, bark or twitch when they sleep.  Usually, if this is the case, we can assume our dogs are dreaming.

Dogs bark or whimper in their sleep because they are dreaming

The reason why dogs bark in their sleep is because they have dreams just like humans do. Dogs go through a dream stage of the sleep cycle every time they go to sleep. You can tell when your dog is slipping into this stage by watching their eyes. Dreaming occurs in a stage of sleep known as REM (which stands for rapid eye movement), just as is in humans.

During this stage, you will notice that your dog’s eyelids are twitching rapidly as his eyes move beneath them. It is during this stage of sleep that your dog is likely to bark or make other noises such as growling or whimpering.

Dog Barks While Sleeping


What do dogs dream about?

There is really no way of knowing what dogs dream about as they obviously can’t tell us.  You can probably assume that our dogs’ dreams are related to an activity that happened in the day.  Could be as simple as a nice walk or how much they enjoyed their bone.   However, when your dog is barking or growling, it usually means that he or she is reliving a memory that caused him to bark or growl in real life. Dreaming is an important way for dogs and humans to process their experiences and learn from them.

Don’t wake up your dog if he is barking in his sleep

Just because a dog is barking, you cannot be sure that he is having a bad dream; he could simply be excited about eating his favorite bone or missing his dog pal.  But, even if you think your dog is having a nightmare, waking him up in the middle of the dream could be even more frightening than letting the dream continue.  Being woken up in the middle of REM sleep can be very shocking and disorienting, which could cause your dog to snap at you, so it is best to leave him alone.

Dogs need their uninterrupted sleep

Dogs, just like humans, need all the rest they can get. Dogs’ bodies and brains are often very active during the day as they run around and take on new experiences. Getting enough sleep is vital to allow your pooch to recharge his batteries and stay physically and mentally healthy. 

If you wake your dog up in the middle of a sleep cycle, he will not get the maximum benefit from that sleep, and he made find it difficult to drift off again. It is better to leave him be until he wakes naturally. Just like you, your dog depends on his beauty sleep to recharge. A good amount of uninterrupted sleep is essential for his healthy mental activity. Also, consider that if your dog is having a bad dream, waking him up may startle him and potentially lead to a defensive reaction and he could bite you.

Make sure your dog is sleeping when he barks

Dogs who bark in their sleep can be a nuisance, but it is better to let them lie. If your dog’s dreaming is disturbing your sleep, try moving its bed into a room further away from your bedroom. Also, check that your dog is actually sleeping when he barks during the night. It might be that he is in fact awake and trying to attract your attention. He could be bored, restless, lonely, thirsty, or too hot or too cold.

Your dog could be barking during his sleep due to change in his environment

If you find that your dog is in fact not dreaming but lying awake at night calling for you, then make sure that your dog’s sleeping environment is comfortable and he has access to fresh drinking water.  Try out a new bed or room to see if that helps minimize the barking while sleeping. Did his environment change at all which is causing your dog to whimper or notice?  Did you stop your daily exercise routine?  Exercise is the most vital component in getting your dog to sleep well at night.

Barking while sleeping is normal doggy behavior. When you hear your pooch dreaming loudly, don’t panic and don’t wake him up. Dreamy barking doesn’t necessarily mean that he is unhappy. It could simply be that your dog is dreaming about playing a game or exploring a new park. Help your dog to sleep calmly by making sure he gets plenty of exercise and playtime during his waking hours.  He will sleep more soundly and then you will also.





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