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Animal IQ

What Do Dogs Dream About?

Ever notice your dog twitching or quietly barking in his sleep? It's not that different from what happens when you're getting your nightly snooze. Research shows that dogs dream just like humans, replaying the events of their day in their brains.

Why It's Noteworthy

According to researchers at MIT, dogs—who sleep an average of 12–14 hours a day—have fairly complex dreams. The researchers started by studying rats, and found that when the rats entered REM sleep (when most dreaming occurs), they often began reliving events from their day. In the rats' case, that was running around a circular track. Since dog brains are more complex than those of rats and show the same electrical sequences, researchers can reasonably infer that dogs dream similarly.

"What we've basically found is that dogs dream doggy things," Stanley Coren, author of Do Dogs Dream? told LiveScience. "So, pointers will point at dream birds, and Dobermans will chase dream burglars. The dream pattern in dogs seems to be very similar to the dream pattern in humans." Researchers have also found that a dog's size can influence his dreams: a toy poodle can have short dreams every 10 minutes, whereas a Great Dane may only dream once every hour, but for a longer period of time.

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Why People Should Know

Everyone says dogs look like their owners, and science has shown this time and again. Now we've got more proof that your dog is just like you. It's just that while you're dreaming about work, or your flight, or tomorrow's doctor's appointment, he's picturing digging up bones, playing in the dog park, and cuddling with you.

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