Everyday Adventures in Havachon Heaven

The Good, Crazy, & Adorable Life of One Havachon Puppy

Do Dogs Have Nightmares? This Havachon Puppy Did!

on January 20, 2011

Another “first”‘ for Daisy in her young life – she had her first nightmare during one of her many daytime naps (maybe that’s a “daymare”? Or a “napmare”?). I’m sure this is one “first” she could have done without!

There she was, sleeping comfortably on her warm blanket, when suddenly she yiped out of nowhere and thrust her entire body to the side so hard, I heard her leg bone smack the floor. This was far from the usual mini-yaps and leg twitches we see during normal naps.

I said “Are you okay?” and she looked up at me with BIG scared eyes. I’ve never seen her look scared before! She even looked a bit disoriented.

At first I thought that maybe some rogue spider got in and bit her, so I shook out her blanket and checked her over. Thankfully, nothing. I HATE spiders…I mean, I really HATE them! I’m not a fan of the creepy-crawlies in general.

So I went into auto-mommy comfort-mode, scooping her up and cuddling her. Boy, did she ever sink into me! I guess she needed comforting.

What on earth could she have had a bad dream about? So far in her little 10-month life, nothing bad has happened to her. Maybe she dreamed she fell off the couch? Or got buried in an avalanche of snow? Or missed her dinner? So I did a little investigating online……

It seems that researchers have found that dogs do have nightmares, particularly dogs who have endured difficulties, like abused dogs. But they say any dog can have nightmares, and that most commonly, it’s young dogs and older dogs who have them. (I guess that’s one positive thing to be said about being middle aged! LOL) It’s interesting that they classify nightmares as “dreams gone wrong”….sure sounds a lot more benign than it feels!

Daisy at 3 months old

The occasional doggy nightmare is nothing to be concerned about, but continually-occurring bad dreams that awaken not only the pooch but the owner as well can be problematic.

An article on Hub Pages says that if a dog is clearly agitated during sleep, indicating a nightmare, the owner can wake them up with soft talk and gentle pats. Personally, I don’t think that’s a good idea. If the dream is really bad, the dog could be startled awake and bite the owner without realizing what he’s doing. An expert on Pet People’s Place agrees that waking a sleeping dog is not a good idea.

Although this article says that dogs having nightmares are hard to wake up, it would seem to me that it’s best to talk or make some kind of sound outside the dog’s biting range, just to be safe. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dog stuck in nightmare-mode, but it must be pretty intense.

The Hub Pages article suggests that since a night light or stuffed animal works to help children overcome nightmares, dog owners might try the same thing if their dog has recurring bad dreams. I’m not sure the psychology would be the same for dogs…what do you think?

6 responses to “Do Dogs Have Nightmares? This Havachon Puppy Did!

  1. Judy says:

    I’m not so sure that “people solutions” would work on dogs. Nighlights are for people afraid of the dark and I don’t believe that’s the case. I once had a dog year’s ago with a questionable background (she was found wandering on a highway by a friend) and she had “what you would call” nighmares on and off for years. There wasn’t really anything that could be done about it at the time and during the day she was a very happy dog. I haven’t done any research on it, just my experience.

    • raisingdaisy says:

      I agree with you – “people solutions” aren’t the answer. I also agree that there’s probably nothing that can help dogs with recurring nightmares. I’m sure your previous dog was very happy once he got a new life with your family and showed it during the day, but when that subconscious took over at night, his former situation probably came back to haunt him. 😦

  2. Awwww, I’m sorry to hear Daisy had a bad dream! Gus yips a lot when he’s sleeping, but he never seems upset when he wakes up.

    I agree with Judy, a night light or stuffed animal doesn’t seem like it would work on dogs. Having you there when she woke up probably made her instantly feel better though! Hopefully it was just an isolated occurrence!

  3. kdkh says:

    I’ve awoken my dogs from bad dreams, judging from the agitated sounds and jerking. They handled it pretty well. They seemed relieved to see where they were.

    • raisingdaisy says:

      That’s great. I think every dog owner just needs to know their dogs well enough so they can deal with nightmares in whatever way works best for their dogs.

  4. Sinead says:

    My poodle has frequent nightmares. I’m not 100% sure why, but think it may be because she’s been threatened and bitten by other dogs before since nothing else bad has ever happened to her. I just talk softly to her or call out her name and 9 times out of 10 she calms down within seconds, if I can’t get her to settle down though I do rub her side to wake her up. She’s never woken up and fear bitten, growled or anything like that, she just looks startled/scared for a moment, looks at me, then will either get up or go back to sleep.

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