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Ever wondered what dogs dream about? Here's the answer!

Brown and white staff sleeping dog-wow
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A study on the dreamlife of our doggies suggests that they love us even more than we thought. 

By Ashley Murphy , 14 Aug 2019

Dr Deirdre Barrett is a Clinical and Evolutionary Psychologist at Harvard Medical School. She spent years researching human sleep behaviour before deciding to look at our four-legged friends instead.

Doggy dreams

The first thing she noticed was the striking similarity between the human and canine brains during sleep. Much like us humans, a snoozing pooch moves through several sleep stages. 

These include a deep sleep stage where the brain is far less active and then a period where the brain seems to be working overtime. The more active stages are referred to as Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. This is when we humans do our dreaming.

Until our dogs learn to talk, or until we learn to bark properly, there's no definitive proof that puppies dream. However, given the evidence, it's fair to assume that our dogs have their own nighttime adventures. 

But what, exactly, does a dog dream about? A never-ending supply of tasty treats? A world without those pesky cats? Well, according to Dr Deirdre Barrett, there's one very special thing that's always on their mind - You! Dr Barrett said: 

"Since dogs are generally extremely attached to their human owners, it's likely your dog is dreaming of your face, your smell and of pleasing or annoying you."

Tail twitches and sleep barks

The study also looked at subtle body movements, such as twitches, tail wags, and sleep- barks. Again, it's only speculation, but Barret thinks this is when dogs start acting out their dreams.

Despite decades of research using the latest brain scanning technology,  nobody really knows why dogs or their human's dream. Some think it helps with long-term memory and overall brain function, while others believe dreams convey important messages and symbols from the unconscious.

But whatever the answer might be, it's comforting to know that we mean so much to our pooches. Turns out they might love us just as much as we love them!