4 min read


Can Dogs Remember Their Dreams?



4 min read


Can Dogs Remember Their Dreams?


While your pooch is snoring and keeping half your household awake, what could they be dreaming of? Maybe they are dreaming about chasing the neighbor's annoying cat, taking a walk with you, or maybe they're thinking about that yummy-smelling dinner you made and didn't share with them. However, when they wake up, will they even remember any of their dreams?


Signs that Your Dog Might be Dreaming

To answer this question, it's important to start first with the signs that your dog is, in fact, dreaming. While research is still being done in this area, many dog owners have talked about observing their pooch’s actions as he or she lies fast asleep. 

A few examples include if you hear your dog whimpering or softly barking in his or her sleep. Those could be two indications that your dog is doing or thinking about something in their sleep. You also might notice that though your dog is lying down, his or her legs are moving as if they’re running.

Dog owners have also said that they’ve observed what appears to be their K9 companions having nightmares. According to these dog owners, if your dog is having a nightmare, you might notice the dog growling, crying, or whimpering. If you notice any of these signs, and your dog appears to be in distress, it might be a good idea to wake them up, carefully.

Though you might be able to tell if your dog is dreaming, it's hard to assess if they can actually remember their dreams. There aren't any signs that we're aware of that a dog can remember what they dreamed about. So, for now, it appears to be up to our interpretation.

Body Language

Here are some signs you might notice if your dog is dreaming:

  • Barking
  • Twitching Whiskers
  • Whimpering

Other Signs

More cues that your dog is dreaming include:

  • Loud Barking
  • Sharp Movements
  • Crying
  • General Distress
  • Eyelid Movement
  • Leg Twitching

History of Dogs Remembering Their Dreams


The history behind dogs dreaming is fairly abstract since, again, we really aren't sure if dogs can remember their dreams. However, we can probably assume that if dogs have been showing signs of dreaming as far back as we humans can remember, we at least know they've been dreaming for quite a while. 

It’s also fairly safe to say that most dogs probably do have some memory when they are awake. If they didn’t have a memory, how would they remember the cool trick you taught them last week, to go potty outside (and not on your new carpet), and how would they ever remember you and your family? Without some kind of waking memory, they wouldn’t be able to do any of this.

Many long-time dog owners have reported that even their old dogs with health problems remember their human families, how to go to the bathroom outside, and tricks from their puppyhood. So, it’s probably very safe to say most dogs do have at least waking memory and have had this for as long as we can remember.

Science Behind Dogs Remembering Their Dreams


Scientifically speaking, we are pretty positive dogs do have dreams like humans do. This is partially due to the fact that dog owners observe their furry friends moving or making noises in their sleep. 

According to Psychology Today, however, our brains aren’t terribly different “structurally” from dogs, and the brain waves that dogs produce during sleep are very similar to our own. So, this gives a little more proof that dogs probably can dream. 

When it comes to memory, that’s a tougher topic to pin down. However, Scientific America says that dogs have what’s called episodic memory. Episodic memory is when you have a memory that is specific to you and an event. In fact, dogs might not be the only animals with this ability, but more research is being done on this topic. With this information, it still seems a bit unclear scientifically if dogs do in fact remember their dreams or not, but the evidence is good that they dream and have some sort of recollection.

Helping Your Dog Keep Their Senses Sharp


While you can’t train your dog to remember their dreams, you can help them sharpen up their senses. A few suggestions are to take them for regular walks and let them sniff around. Smelling their surroundings can help them learn more about the world around them, and exercise is good for everyone. 

Another thing you can do is to simply keep your dog healthy and feed them a balanced diet. Some dog owners even buy their dogs toy puzzles to help their dog sharpen their skills. Also, training your dog to do tricks can help them work more on their memory, plus it’s good bonding time for you and your dog.

Safety-wise, it is important to note that dogs may have nightmares, and if they are having a nightmare, you’ll probably hear them. If your dog is making a huge amount of noise, sounds like they are in pain, or overall, they seem distressed, you need to carefully wake them. Because we’re not sure what’s going on in their mind, use caution.

In addition, make sure your dog has a good comfortable place to sleep so while they are chasing that neighbor’s cat in their dream, they are safe and getting plenty of sleep - even if you aren’t because of their snoring.

Have questions or concerns about your pet?

Chat with a veterinary professional in the Wag! app 24/7.

Get Vet Chat

Staying Safe When Your Dog is Having a Nightmare:

  1. Stay calm.
  2. Gently wake your dog up.
  3. Be cautious since you don't know what was going on in their mind.

Written by Katie Anderson

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 04/01/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

Wag! Specialist
Need to upgrade your pet's leash?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews


© 2024 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.

© 2024 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.