You hear Rover frequently making yipping and yapping sounds at night. Then it progresses into a bark. When you get out of bed to check on him, he’s sound asleep on his side. You go back to bed thinking you were just hearing things. A few nights later, it happens again, but this time when you check on him, he’s lying down in his bed; his ears twitch and paws are moving like he’s running. It might seem peculiar, but it’s actually very normal. If you try to wake your pup, you’re going to interrupt his deep sleep where he is dreaming of chasing squirrels, playing with other dogs, or getting a rewarding belly rub.
The Root of the Behavior
Some sounds you may hear when your four-legged friend is dreaming are barking, growling, whimpering, grunting, howling, or even licking. These sounds are what probably wakes you up at night and seem concerning at first. And then when you check on him, he is actually moving in his sleep. You may also see his body twitch and wiggle, and do things like paw like he is digging or running. Dogs also use all of their senses when dreaming, so you may also see wiggling ears because he is listening, eyelids twitching, or his nose wrinkling. If he is excited or happy, his tail might wag. Dogs can be dreaming about many different things, just like humans. Their dreams could be range from nice, pleasant dreams, to terrifying nightmares. Your pup could dream about getting a treat from you or chasing a squirrel, but he also could dream about a dogfight.
All dogs can dream, but does it mean they will always bark? Perhaps not. However, you will probably hear smaller dogs barking at night because they tend to dream frequently during their sleep, approximately every ten minutes. Larger breeds experience a dream every 90 minutes or so, so they might not be as vocal. But, be ready for a bit of barking if you have a puppy or an older dog because they bark more than their middle-aged friends.
All of this might sound a little strange, seeing that dogs cannot tell us that they, in fact, are dreaming. But this behavior of barking and moving in their sleep prompted researchers to study a dog’s brain activity during sleep. When a dog sleeps, the brain waves are like a human’s. Just like you, your furry friend falls asleep, enters a deep REM cycle, and starts to dream. However, unlike most of us, he may begin to speak, or bark, while he is dreaming.
Encouraging the Behavior
Barking during sleep is not a bad thing for your dog to do. There is no harm to your dog, and hopefully, he is dreaming more about chasing a cat than he is about being tracked down by other animals. You should not wake him up because you will not only disrupt his sleep cycle, but it could startle him. Of course, as a creature who loves sleep as well, you know how bothersome it is to be woken up in the middle of the night.
However, if you have a vocal dog who dreams often, it could become irritating. Before doing anything, make sure your furry friend is indeed asleep when he barks. He might be barking to get your attention because he is hungry, bored, or uncomfortable. If this is the case, make sure he gets enough food, exercise, and that his sleeping arrangement is pleasant for him.
If he is barking like he is the host of a daytime talk show, some action might need to be taken. Your pup’s sleep is important, but so is yours. If the barking becomes excessive, move his bed to a room farther from yours. Do not wake him up, though, And if it gets to be too much, take him to the vet.
Other Solutions and Considerations
His barking at night could be a nuisance, but it can also be sweet to watch his ears twitch and hear him let out little yelps of joy. However, monitoring his behavior is important. If you check on your noisy friend and notice his body is moving uncontrollably, he’s panting or can’t catch his breath, whimpering to indicate pain, you should wake him up. If he did these while awake, you know something is wrong, so the same thing goes if it happens in his sleep. Call your vet right away if you’re concerned something is severe or life-threatening.
If his barking at night becomes a problem for your sleep schedule and moving his bed did not help, consider talking to a vet. Your vet can give you tips on how you can handle your boisterous pup. If you’re thinking your dog would stop yapping if you gave him a sleeping pill or herb, that is the wrong route to go. No matter how much online research you do, human medicine does not work the same for dogs and is very dangerous to give them. If you’re curious about this type of remedy, visit your vet and keep your dog safe. Giving him a pill that helps you sleep, could be your next nightmare.
Similar to humans, your dog will most likely dream about things that happened during the day. Make sure you play with your pup often, give lots of belly rubs, and take him on walks so he can sniff everything. That will not only make his day better, but it will provide him with something fun to dream about at night.
By a Shiba Inu lover Patty Oelze
Published: 02/06/2018, edited: 01/30/2020