The Thoughtful Animal

In Case There Was Any Doubt

Animals dream, too!

It’s definitely not a seizure, and it’s definitely not random motor actions. Those actions are totally coordinated. Poor dog must have been dreaming about a dog fight or something.


  1. #1 Cassidy
    April 21, 2010

    Ha. Two years ago my sister (now 17) and I got into a lengthy argument about whether my dog and their family dog were actually dreaming when they twitched, yelped, suckled, etc. This culminated in us buying him an entire book about dog behavior just for the passage on dreaming for Christmas. Now he just tries to argue that it’s all involuntary and they aren’t actually ‘seeing things’ like WE do when we dream, so I guess we can’t win…

  2. #2 Cassidy
    April 21, 2010

    …that would’ve made a lot more sense if I’d added in the clause clarifying that the two of us got into an argument WITH OUR FATHER. Not with one another. Hence all the masculine pronouns later.

  3. #3 Jason G. Goldman
    April 21, 2010

    Heh. Ask your dad when was the last time he voluntarily dreamed something. Or explicitly decided, “tonight, I shall dream about…”

  4. #4 Cassidy
    April 21, 2010

    I know, right? But it’s turned into one of those half-joke, half-philosophical ongoing family debates, so we’re all past the point of reason.

    Except that my sister and I were clearly right. Of course.

  5. #5 Helen
    April 21, 2010

    I always get a kick out of that video!

    In high school psychology we were taught that(for people. I assume it’s the same for other mammals) dreams happen during REM and the body doesn’t move during that stage (aside from the eyes). Movement occurs during nonREM, particularly in the deeper stages.
    That always got me wondering about movies with characters thrashing about while dreaming, as well as my dogs movements while they sleep.
    Any chance of a blog post discussing dreams and all that?

  6. #6 Tamar
    April 22, 2010

    What she said… I mean Helen.
    Aren’t we supposed to paralayzed in the REM stage? I know there is a rare condition in humans (which is definitelly *not* aleep-walking) in which people are able to move while they’re dreaming and act out their dream. I guess that the case with this dog.

  7. #7 Rob Monkey
    April 23, 2010

    I’m a little late to the party, but thought I’d throw in about the REM sleep thing. They’ve found that you dream in other sleep states besides REM. Which in retrospect was obvious, I know I’ve had a dream right after falling asleep before, and it takes a while to get to REM sleep. But yeah, that’s why you sometimes move in response to dreams, you’re just not in REM sleep yet and can still move.

  8. #8 Don Rowe
    April 23, 2010

    Wow, I never doubted animals dream, our dogs definitely do. I’ve never seen anything that animated before, though.

    You have to ‘aww’ at the end; it’s so obvious the poor dog has no clue what just happened.

  9. #9 great.american.satan
    April 24, 2010


    Some scientists studied rat brains (I guess with tiny EEGs?) and found they repeated patterns in sleep that happened while they were awake – They were dreaming about running a maze.

    So yes, even tiny tiny mammal brains dream. I’ve seen my cats limbs and facial muscles twitch in sleep. Does anyone know any information about non-mammals?

    I second the thing about dreaming in non-REM. I am pretty sure I’ve had the engine of dreaming still active while barely awake. Is that called a hypnagogic state? I don’t recall.

    My girlfriend hatched a hypothesis that forgetting about dreams evolved in lower mammals who don’t have the abstract awareness to differentiate between dreams and reality. They have to forget, or they respond to dream stimulus to their detriment. In this video we see the failure of that mechanism.

  10. #10 aratina cage
    April 25, 2010

    I love it when my kitty sleep-mews, but sometimes I wonder if she is having a nightmare. Just yesterday I woke her up before she had had enough sleep, and she acted extremely tense and went into hyper-scaredy-cat mode; she may have even been half asleep still, I don’t know. What I do know is that picking her up to hug was a big mistake because she freaked out and jumped away so hard that she clawed up my arm. Bad kitteh!

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