Everyone’s Crying After An Expert Explained What Dogs Dream Of

Humans are always wondering about what’s going through their little furry pets’ heads. What do they want when they’re barking or purring? What’s their favorite thing to do? What do they dream of? Well, People recently talked to Dr. Deirdre Barrett, who’s a teacher and Clinical and Evolutionary Psychologist at Harvard Medical School, to learn about the latter.

The Harvard expert answered a number of questions about sleep with all mammals, explaining that, “most mammals have a similar sleep cycle to humans, going into a deep sleep stage… and then into periods of activity called REM sleep,” which is when dreams occur for humans. So, because most mammals have those same sleep cycles, it’s also safe to assume that mammals dream, as well.

It was the next answer from Dr. Barrett, though, that’s getting people up in tears – how humans and dogs differ in their dreams. She explained to People:

Q: What do dogs experience when they dream?

A: 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.

When dog owners learned that their pups may be dreaming of their face, they basically lost it. People took to Twitter to share their feels, posting pictures of their dogs sleeping, side by side with selfies of them crying. Awee! @harrysosborn shared his thoughts, gaining over 64,600 retweets as of Sunday.

Pet owners tweeted things like, “my heart hurts,” and “life changing,” and we couldn’t agree more.

Ever wonder why dogs moving their legs like they’re running in their sleep? Dr. Barrett discussed that with People, as well:

Q: What does it mean when my pet is asleep and its legs start moving like they are running?

A: They may well be dreaming they’re running… the more pronounced and fast the movements, the more likely they’re acting out a dream.”

Of course, as Uncle Ben told Peter in Spiderman, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” So, as pet owners, who have the great responsibility of caring for our furry buddies and being their absolute bestest of friends, how can we make sure they have the best dreams possible? Dr. Barrett told People:

The best way to give ourselves or our children better dreams is to have happy daytime experiences and to get plenty of sleep in a safe and comfortable environment. It’s a good bet this is also best for pets’ dreams.

So, get out there with your furry friend and throw those tennis balls, go on those long hikes, and take them to doggie parks. Hopefully, that will help them have fun, loving dreams, because that’s what they all deserve.


  • Shar

    I would like to say here that while I cannot speak about dogs, I can however speak about cats. It is a scientific fact that a cat will ‘sleep’ for many hours during the day. This is because a cat is incapable of deep sleep. the very thing needed for a dream state to happen which is the need to be in to get to a deep sleep (not to be confused with daydreaming). A cat however will seem to sleep for hours when the actual fact of the matter is the cat is lightly resting and will do this for many hours at a time. A cat is always on alert and that is because of its’ predatory nature and it’s nature to be on high alert even in a safe environment. If the cat were able to reach the point of deep sleep to reach a state of dreaming, it would not move its’ ears in the direction of sound. As for the movement of legs (ie the cat seems to be running like it’s chasing something or being chased in a dream) that is simply no more than a muscle spasm, very similar to what a human will have if their own leg goes into a spasm. So as far as do cats dream, the answer is no due to the fact that they are not capable of getting to the point that a dream-like state would need to be achieved.

    • Frances Ruoss Scholl

      I had a lab that would “run” in his sleep. He also would wag his tail. If we woke him up at that time he was always extremely happy! Seizures? I think NOT!

      • Anna Brumley

        It is not a seizure…it is a dog acting out it’s dream just like people sleep-walk.

  • srg

    How does this “doctor” know what dogs are dreaming about? What a crock. Did she get this information through a vulcan mind meld? Don’t get me wrong guys, my dog and I are joined at the hip. I love him very much, but articles like this are what make me cynical of some human behavior, especially coming from the so called “experts.”

    • Dog lover.

      Precisely. Some vets need to go back to school

    • Raquel Santos

      Why are people all bent out of shape. It clearly says that because during actual tests their dream cycles are just like humans (mammals) It’s safe to say they probably dream similar to us. What’s so difficult to understand?

  • Barb Chipman

    I know my brat is probably dreaming of ways to annoy me. lol

  • Dog lover.

    A dog ‘running’ in its sleep is actually a dog have a seizure. The author is a fool.

    • Anna Brumley

      That is not true…I am a veterinarian and I know for a fact that a dog ‘running’ in it’s sleep is the dog acting out it’s dream…just like people sleep-walk. A dog ‘running’ in it’s sleep is not a seizure. The author is not a fool…you are.

      • Dog lover.

        God help your patient fool

      • Raquel Santos

        i love how they know more than you Dr. Brumley