We’ve all been there. Your pooch is sleeping soundly beside you on the couch and she enters REM sleep. Her body is twitching, eyes are moving rapidly, and she may even whine, growl, or lightly bark. Your little sweetie is dreaming. There is no question that dogs dream, personifying and connecting them even further to their human companions. But what do they dream about?
Harvard Psychologist Makes a Doting Assumption
Dr. Deirdre Barrett is a Clinical and Evolutionary Psychologist at Harvard Medical School. She has spent many years of her career studying human sleep behavior. From a very early age, she has been mesmerized by dreams, so much so that she built her career around their study. In the course of her work, she has learned quite a bit about humans and animals alike. She shared some connections she has made between humans and dogs while dreaming. She told People,
“Humans dream about the same things they’re interested in by day, though more visually and less logically.
“There’s no reason to think animals are any different. 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.”
Naturally, we don’t know exactly what dogs are dreaming about and based on the movements and noises coming off the couch at times, it’s likely that their dreams include a fair share of squirrel sightings. That being said, until technology allows us to peek inside a dreaming brain, we dog lovers can sleep soundly with the expert opinion that our dogs dote on us, even in their sleep.
But what about cats?
Science has actually delved more deeply into the minds of dreaming cats. There was a controlled experiment conducted on felines that showed they appear to dream about hunting. Dr. Barrett shared,
“We actually know more about cats dreams, because one of the earliest sleep researchers, Michel Jouvet, destroyed the tiny area in cat brains that inhibits movements during REM sleep,” Dr Barrett said. “Cats lay quietly through the other stages of sleep, and when REM began, they leapt up, stalked, pounced, arched their backs and hissed. They looked like they were hunting mice in their dreams.”
Although a fair share of us enjoy the company of both cats and dogs, for those of us that favor dogs, it’s affirming to hear that they each live up to their species’s stereotypes, even in slumber.
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