Why do sleeping dogs seem to run? – Hey, match!

“When she sleeps, sometimes her paws move vigorously – like, frantically – as if she were running into an invisible treadmill,” said owner Seud Wudan Yan.

“She’s dreaming, isn’t she?” tha Yan. “She dreams of following squirrels and rabbits.”

What does June really dream of? The life of sleeping animals has intrigued man for thousands of years, but the clear answers have been elusive. “If a dog can give us a report, maybe we can answer the question,” Frank said.

Until then, we have to settle for science. Here’s what we know.

What about vibrations?

Involuntary muscle tremors called myoclonus are common in both dogs and humans. This is what you see when your dog’s limbs and paws tremble or move frequently during sleep. It is most common during sleep with rapid eye movements. Pale eyes are also associated with rapid eye movement.

And in humans, REM sleep has historically been associated with vivid dreams. It’s the stage where you get a kind of weird, colorful experience that you just can’t wait to tell your family over for breakfast.

Dogs get a large portion of REM sleep, which accounts for about 12% of their total life, according to a 1977 study published in Physiology & Behavior. And since other aspects of dog sleep are very similar to our sleep, scientists said they believe the similarities can extend to dreaming.

“From dogs to humans, most mammals exhibit the same sleep patterns,” Frank said. “We can not say for sure that dogs have similar experiences to what we dream when we dream, but it is difficult not to imagine it.”

As movement during sleep becomes more elaborate, there may be something else going on besides myoclonus.

“Running fully asleep is not uncommon,” Frank said. “There is a mechanism in the brain that actively engages you from the neck down. “It’s a wonderful phenomenon and it usually prevents you from achieving your dreams.”

This structure, called the bridge, is located in the brainstem. Damage to a bridge can shorten its ability to paralyze a sleeping body.

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Scientists discovered in the 1970s that lesions were added to the brainstem The number of domestic cats increased the activity of sleeping animals. The cats in the study were seen raising their heads, moving their limbs, and jumping.

Damage to the body from neurological disorders can also affect the brain’s ability to paralyze the body during sleep. For humans, Frank said, a significant increase in sleep tremors could be an early warning sign of Parkinson’s disease. He noted that if you see the same thing in your dog, it’s worth visiting the vet.

What is really happening – and why?

For humans, REM sleep is believed to play a role in enhancing memory. There is some evidence that they work the same way for animals.

In a 2001 study published in the journal Neuron, researchers who observed brainwave activity in dormant rats concluded that animals were reproducing the events of the day. When the rats ran through a circular maze before leaving, they seemed to repeat the remnants of the maze from the run as they slept. And in 2017, a study published in the journal Scientific Reports found that dogs can use sleep time to reinforce the memories that form when they are awake.
Mark Pekoff, emeritus professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Boulder University in Colorado, says wild dog cousins ​​exhibit the same behaviors that their owners see in their napping dogs.

Study dogs began to learn to follow new vocal commands. After a week of initial training, sleeping animals – instead of playing – after learning were able to perform the related task better than their control group counterparts. The reason may be that they too were reviewing the events of the day in their sleep.

“There is no reason not to think that they do not recall some kind of past experience,” said Mark Pekoff, emeritus professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Boulder University in Colorado and author of When Dogs Sleep. Secret Dogs: Why Dogs Do. What do they do. ”

This also applies to their wild dog cousins. Bykov spent countless hours doing field research involving watching coyotes and coyotes sleeping, and he said they exhibit the same behaviors that pet owners see in their dogs snoozing.

Bykov

But even if dogs, wolves and coyotes recreate the events of the day when they are asleep, the results can look (or smell) very different from what people dream of. “We have extraordinary vision, but dogs – this is not their world,” said Frank, a professor in Washington state.

While dogs do not have the best eyesight in the world, they are excellent at sniffing.

“I think there is a sensory context that needs to go along with the mental content,” he said. “I’ve always wondered, when dogs dream, is it a world of winds they experience?”

Why we are obsessed with our sleeping dogs

David M. Peña Guzman is an Associate Professor of Humanities and Liberal Studies at San Francisco State University.

Philosopher David M. Peña Guzman, associate professor of humanities and liberal studies at San Francisco State University, noted that modern pet owners may be particularly attracted to the lives of their sleeping companions, but the interest in dreams of animal dates back to antiquity.

“There are references to animal dreams in the works of people like Aristotle and two other Greek philosophers,” said Peña Guzman, author of the forthcoming book When Animals Dream: The Hidden World of Animal Consciousness. “

Even then, he said, people liked to speculate about the dreams of the animals they were close to, like dogs and horses. Peña Guzman noted that spending so much time with a pet makes it easy to imagine them as creatures with a rich inner life. Less congenital species, such as frogs and insects, tend to be overlooked in older accounts.

Why do philosophers care about animal dreams? Peña Guzmán argued in his book that the ability to dream shows that the animal experiences consciousness. He wrote that when we become aware of an animal’s awareness, we are more likely to appreciate their experiences and believe that they deserve respectful treatment.

Peña-Guzmán finds dreams throughout the animal kingdom. He described the dormant octopus, which takes on a dazzling color that some researchers consider evidence of REM sleep. He wrote about zebra sparrows, whose brain activity during sleep sounds the same as when they sing a song. Peña-Guzmán thinks that even fish can dream.

Peña-Guzmán admits that not all zoologists agree with his conclusions about dreams, but one thing is clear: we have a lot to learn about sleeping animals.

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“In a dream you really see the power of the mind at work,” said Peña Guzman. “It’s a really powerful reminder of how underestimated and under-studied animals are and how much the animal mind remains this unexplored area of ​​which we know relatively little.”

Jane Rose Smith is a writer from Vermont. Read more of her work at www.jenrosesmith.com.

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