Every day I interact with my pet dog Bella, I learn something new. I have shared here, how she loves to come and sit/lie near me when I am doing my morning meditation and also how she likes to sleep in the area where the meditation is done. Apparently, she can relate to the energy that has been created there.
I have also seen her snore and fart as well as sneeze just like we humans do. Sometimes, she also barks in her sleep, while moving her hands. And that made me wonder – do dogs dream? And if they do what do they dream of? I came across this interesting Q&A, where this topic was touched upon:
There have been many successful neuro-scientific experiments that prove that dogs indeed dream while they are asleep. Dogs and humans are over 95% similar, genetically as well as physically. We even share a very close resemblance in our neuro-chemical make-up, which means that our reflexes and memory are wired in a similar fashion.
Given how much, humans and dogs are similar in their body and mind, it is no wonder that Bella does all the things she does – which I frankly find endearing. So, lets talk about the dreaming aspect.
It seems the experts do agree that the Dogs do dream.
As dogs and cats doze, images of past events replay in their minds much the same way humans recall experiences while dreaming, said Matthew Wilson of MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory in Cambridge, Mass. That’s because the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in memory, is basically wired the same way in virtually all vertebrates and mammals, he said.
“If you compared a hippocampus in a rat to a dog; in a cat to a human, they contain all of the same pieces,” said Wilson, an associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences
Okay.. so they do dream. But what do they dream of? Well, they are like us! They also have dream-birds, dream-burglars etc to bark at and run after.
“Pointers point at dream birds, and Dobermans growl at dream burglers,” Coren said.
Those experiments were not a demonstration of actual dreaming, said MIT’s Wilson, but do suggest that in REM sleep the brain is functioning the same way it behaves during normal wakefulness. As early as 2001, he decided to find out if animals did in fact dream by eavesdropping on the sleeping brain.
Wilson used electrodes to record the brain activity of rats as they ran a circular track and later as they slept. He discovered, by examining more than 40 REM episodes recorded while the rats slept, that the sleeping rodents often appeared to replay images of navigating the track in real time. About 50% of the episodes repeated the unique signature of brain activity created as the animal ran. In fact, because records of the neural signals in both the sleep and waking states were so similar, Wilson said he could reconstruct where the dreaming rats were on the track and whether they were standing still or running.
This human-like ability to dream about actual experiences almost certainly applies to pets, he said.
What about your dog? Does it dream? Have you noticed what it does?