Common Dog Sleep Behaviors and Their Links to Health


When a dog is asleep, observers often find themselves intrigued by the dog’s tendency to mumble and display peculiar behaviors, reminiscent of human actions during dreaming. In the following sections, a comprehensive elucidation will be presented concerning typical behaviors observed in a dog’s sleep, as well as their potential correlations with various illnesses. Kindly proceed to the subsequent information.

A Pet Dog Vocalizing in Its Sleep: Do Dogs Dream as Well?

When a pet dog emits sounds such as “kyun,” growls, or barks during sleep, it parallels the phenomenon of humans talking in their sleep, which occurs during dreaming. This raises the question of whether this enigmatic behavior displayed by sleeping dogs is indicative of their engagement in dreams. The inquiry into whether dogs experience dreams akin to humans warrants closer examination.

Science Still Doesn’t Know If Dogs Dream

Pet owners often observe their dogs exhibiting behaviors like sleep talking and strange movements, sparking the question: do dogs dream?

However, the scientific community has yet to definitively determine whether dogs experience dreams. Unlike humans, who can convey their dreams upon waking, dogs lack the means to communicate the content of their dreams. To scientifically investigate this matter, researchers would need to study the brain activity of a sleeping dog.

In the realm of human research, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is used to examine brain activity and analyze dream states, enabling the identification of dream experiences. In contrast, studying dogs presents challenges, as inducing sleep without causing stress is more complex. To analyze a dog’s brain activity, general anesthesia is typically administered prior to an MRI. Nonetheless, this approach alters the normal brain functioning and prevents the assessment of the dog’s dream patterns. Consequently, the scientific community still lacks definitive evidence in confirming whether dogs dream.

About Rem Sleep and Non-rem Sleep

There are two primary types of sleep observed in both humans and animals with a brain: REM sleep and non-REM sleep. REM sleep denotes a state in which the brain is active, while the body remains in a shallow sleep. In the human context, this phase is associated with the occurrence of dreams. Conversely, non-REM sleep is characterized by a profound sleep state involving both the brain and the body, with no dreams occurring.

A distinctive feature is the cyclical nature of these sleep phases, alternating approximately every 90 minutes in humans. It’s important to note that the sleep cycle of dogs is not yet comprehensively understood.

In terms of the total sleep duration for dogs, it typically ranges from 2 to 15 hours per day. Despite the seemingly extensive duration of sleep, dogs exhibit a predilection for more REM sleep. This REM sleep phase is lighter and facilitates easier awakenings, in contrast to deep non-REM sleep, which carries a higher level of risk. Consequently, even minor noises can readily rouse a pet dog from sleep. This phenomenon does not necessarily stem from a feeling of insecurity within their domestic environment; rather, it reflects an echo of their ancestral survival instincts from their wild heritage.

Strange Cute Behavior While Sleeping


From a scientific standpoint, the phenomenon of whether pet dogs experience dreams remains unproven. Nevertheless, the endearing and enigmatic behaviors exhibited by dogs during sleep can evoke unintentional smiles. How should a dog owner interpret these displays from their cherished pet? This article delves into the underlying factors contributing to the distinctive actions observed in sleeping dogs.

Sleep Talking (Growling, Barking, Squealing)

While a dog is sleeping, if it unexpectedly produces sounds like “kyun,” growling, or barking, experts suggest that these behaviors might be linked to the unconscious processing of memories and emotions from the day. This sleep-related phenomenon in dogs exhibits similarities to human experiences.

Convulsions, Fluttering Legs

When a dog experiences twitching or leg movements while sleeping, it’s comparable to sleep talking in humans. For example, after a day of extensive interaction with its owner, play sessions, or vigorous exercise, the dog’s brain is actively consolidating strong memories and emotions. This phenomenon is thought to trigger unconscious leg twitches or kicks, influenced by brain signals. Observing your dog’s asleep behavior can provide insights into the ongoing process of organizing vivid memories and emotions, warranting attentive supervision.

Eyes and Ears Twitch

Muscle twitches can occur during bedtime, and likewise, during the process of organizing memories and emotions, ocular and auditory twitches can be prompted by signals from the brain.


At times, the cherished canine exhibits behavior reminiscent of partial wakefulness, even after being presumed asleep, and subsequently engages in sudden howling, emitting a plaintive “woon” sound. Experts suggest that distinguishing whether this behavior stems from interrupted memory consolidation during sleep or mere half-awakened state can pose challenges. Moreover, the occurrence of tail wagging during slumber is attributed to brain-initiated signals, indicating potential cognitive activity while in a state of rest.

Is This Talking in Your Sleep Sick?

There is no need for concern regarding a dog’s sleep vocalizations, as they are common and usually not an issue. However, if a sleeping dog produces distinct sounds like “snoring,” it might warrant attention. This article presents key observations to consider when a dog is asleep and provides guidance on distinguishing potential health issues. Please review these points for your reference.

Don’t Say It’s Noisy! the Reason We Talk in Our Sleep Is Because We Relieve Stress.

Rest is essential for a dog’s physical recuperation. Sleep talking in dogs is thought to transpire during memory and emotion consolidation in the brain. Hence, a dog’s sleep vocalizations suggest robust memory retention, often transpiring during stress relief. Owners should avoid interrupting their dog’s slumber if they talk in their sleep, refraining from waking them abruptly. It’s advisable to vigilantly observe without causing sleep disturbance.

However, Watch out for Snoring as It May Be a Disease

The snoring of a beloved dog can result from the breed’s inherent characteristics or being overweight. However, it’s important to also consider the potential for underlying illnesses. Early identification of illnesses holds significant value. Let’s explore two potential medical conditions that can be indicated by a dog’s snoring. These are essential considerations for any responsible dog owner.

Possible Disease

Nasopharyngeal Overgrowth Syndrome, a congenital respiratory disorder observed in dogs, occurs when the soft palate, the extension from the oral cavity ceiling to the back of the throat, becomes unusually elongated. This elongation obstructs the trachea and impairs normal breathing. Severe cases can lead to fainting due to inadequate oxygen intake. Brachycephalic breeds like Bulldogs and Pugs are more prone to this condition.

Common symptoms include noisy breathing during respiration, loud snoring during sleep, and blockage of the airway by the elongated soft palate, resulting in difficulty swallowing food (dysphagia) and accompanying nausea.

Treatment typically involves the surgical removal of the elongated soft palate.

Tracheal Collapse, another respiratory condition, is chronic and progressive. It occurs when the trachea, the tube-like structure carrying air from the throat to the lungs, flattens and obstructs airflow, potentially leading to suffocation. Breeds like Toy Poodles, Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Yorkshire Terriers, as well as larger breeds like Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers, are susceptible.

Initial symptoms include a mild cough, but as the condition worsens, it progresses to dry “honking” coughs and sudden intense coughing fits. During sleep, affected dogs may snore and exhibit bluish mucous membranes due to oxygen deficiency.

The primary treatment approach involves surgical intervention to address the underlying issue.

If You Are Snoring, Consult a Veterinary Hospital.

There’s no need for concern if a dog experiences sudden barking or noises during sleep, similar to how humans sleep talk. However, persistent loud snoring or snoring over an extended duration might indicate underlying health issues, such as those mentioned previously, along with the potential for tracheal tumors or heart conditions. If there’s worry about a dog’s snoring, it’s advisable to seek consultation from a veterinary hospital.

If It Looks like It Hurts or Is in Pain, Take It to the Veterinary Hospital.



Sleep is essential for a dog’s energy recovery and overall well-being. During sleep, the brain consolidates memories and positive emotions, sometimes leading to sleep-talking, which is considered a sign of stress relief. Common sleep behaviors and sleep-talking in dogs include:

  • Murmuring, barking, or making cute sounds while asleep.
  • Twitching and kicking of the legs.
  • Fluttering or twitching of the eyes and ears.
  • Experiencing sleep inertia upon waking.

It’s important to observe a dog’s sleep without disturbing them. If snoring persists over an extended period or becomes notably loud, it might indicate an underlying health issue. In such cases, consulting a veterinarian is advisable to ensure the dog’s well-being.