Most dog owners have awoken at least once or twice to their dogs barking. Most might look around to see if there’s something wrong, but the truth is that some dogs just bark in their sleep. Before you start to worry about your dog’s behavior, you might want to stop and learn a bit about why dogs bark even though they seem to be fast asleep.
Why Dogs Bark in Their Sleep
As you might expect, dogs tend to bark in their sleep for the same reasons that people talk in their sleep – they are dreaming. Scientific studies have shown that dog sleep cycles are an awful lot like human sleep cycles, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that part of a dog’s sleep cycle is dedicated to dreaming.
Why do dogs dream? Honestly, we don’t know the answer to that one quite yet. We don’t know humans dream, either, so it makes sense that this mystery is still unsolved. We can, however, guess that dogs are trying to process the things they’ve been through during the day or that they’re reliving memories of the past.
One thing that’s unique about dogs is that dogs tend to use all of their senses while dreaming. You’ll see your dog moving as if he or she was running on his or her side, for example, or you might even see his or her nose moving as if he or she is sniffing. Your dog will bark, growl, or cry as well – and it’s all part of the same basic process.
Should You Do Anything if Your Dog Barks in Their Sleep?
No! This is a totally normal part of your dog’s life and it’s something that you don’t need to worry about. Sure, your dog might seem a little scared or distressed, but this is likely just a nightmare that will pass.
Honestly, waking your dog up while he or she is barking isn’t great for him or her. It will leave your dog feeling groggy and unable to get back to sleep, which might mean a late night for you. It might even cause your dog to develop a sleep disorder, which could require more significant treatment.
What if the Barking is Obnoxious?
Maybe you’re not too worried about your dog’s health when you want him or her to stop barking; instead, you’re really just worried about getting back to sleep. If your dog is barking, you’ve really got to be patient and just wait for it to go by. While you can eventually wake him or her up, you definitely shouldn’t give your dog medicine to get him or her back to sleep.
The only kind of medication that your dog needs to sleep is one that’s prescribed by a vet, a prescription that you’re not likely to get just for a little bit of nighttime noise. Never give your dog any kind of human medication, as these medicines are just not designed for a dog’s body.
Instead of stopping your dog from barking, try to deal with the barking in a different way. Make your dog sleep farther away from where others sleep, put a blanket on him or her, or just play some white noise – anything you can do to minimize the sound will help.
Should You Worry About Snoring?
Maybe your dog isn’t barking. Maybe he or she is snoring. This can be just as loud, and honestly, it’s often even more obnoxious. Snoring in dogs happens for the same reasons that it occurs in humans, with a handful of breeds being particularly predisposed to snoring in general. Unlike barking, though, it’s an issue that should be addressed by a vet.
If your dog snores every night, there’s a chance that he or she is actually having trouble breathing. As such, you’ll want to get him or her to the vet to get checked out and to ensure that there are no bigger problems. Your dog might simply be snoring because of his or her physiology, but it’s always better to be safe than to be sorry.
Should You Be Worried About A Dog Who Can’t Sleep?
One thing you do need to check out is whether or not your dog is actually sleeping. There’s a big difference between a dreaming dog who barks and a dog who is awake and barking all night, and knowing which situation with which you are dealing will make a difference in how you proceed. If it’s the latter, there are legitimate ways to stop your dog from barking at night.
Dogs aren’t actually prone to insomnia. A fairly large number of health conditions can keep the average dog awake, but he or she probably isn’t prone to late nights without a good reason. As such, a quick trip to the vet might be in order to figure the problem out.
In some cases, though, your dog might be staying up all night because he or she is asleep all day. Much like a freshman in college, he or she is probably getting too much sleep and has the energy to burn at night. An average dog sleeps at least twelve hours a day, but even then that sleep should be broken up with at least some physical activity.
It’s also a good idea to look at where your dog is sleeping. A good dog bed can work wonders for getting your dog to sleep longer at night, especially as your dog gets older. Your dog’s bed is a lot like your mattress, so you should have a good idea of the quality of rest a dog could get on an old, lumpy bed.
You should also take some time to look at your dog’s diet. Omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce stress in your dog, which in turn can help him or her sleep better. A diet that’s easy on your dog’s stomach will also work wonders if he or she is up all night feeling sick.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are dogs dreaming about when they bark?
Your dog could really be dreaming about anything. It could be a dream about a squirrel he or she saw or even about the mailman – it’s really impossible to know exactly what a dog is dreaming about, as he or she can’t exactly share that information. With that said, we do assume that dogs dream about things that they have previously experienced.
2. What do dogs dream about when they sleep?
Dogs probably dream about things they have done that day or things they have done in the past. While we have a pretty good idea of the extent of a dog’s memory, we don’t really know how dogs dream. As such, your dog could be having anything from very simple recreations of that day’s events to incredibly imaginative dreams about things he or she has not really experienced.
3. Should I wake my dog up if he is barking in his sleep?
No, you shouldn’t wake your dog up if he or she is barking in his or her sleep. While it might be loud, it’s totally normal for your dog to bark while sleeping. In fact, waking a dog up while he or she is sleeping can actually be bad for the dog, as it does interrupt the dog’s sleep cycle.
4. Should I wake my dog up from a bad dream?
As sad as it may be, you do need to let your dog get through his or her nightmares on his or her own (1). Nightmares might be scary but they are part of sleep, something that your dog needs plenty of. Don’t wake your dog up mid-dream (or nightmare), as doing so might cause your dog not to be able to get back to sleep and leave him or her feeling groggy the next day.