Dog Lifestyle, Pets and Family

Dogs Dreaming: Should you wake a dreaming dog?

brown and white dog in bed with a small beige teddy bear under the covers of white blanket and sheets

World Dream Day (Sunday, September 25) is just around the corner, so it’s time to answer the question many pet parents have: should you wake a dreaming dog? Best Friends Animal Society, a leading animal welfare organization working to end the killing of cats and dogs in America’s shelters by 2025, is sharing insight into pets’ zzzz’s. 

Do Dogs Dream?


Yes, dogs do dream, as we discuss in our article Can Dogs Dream: They May Be Dreaming of You! pet parents who believe their dogs and cats have dreams are correct says Best Freinds Animal Society. Dogs and cats dream when they reach REM sleep, also known as the rapid eye movement stage of sleep. During these dreams, scientists believe pets dream about a delicious treat or fun interaction with other furry friends. That explains why pet parents will sometimes see their sleeping pal wagging their tail, twitching paws, running in place, or even grunting or barking. 

Small black and white dog surrounded by heart blankets lying in bed with its eyes closed


Can Dog’s Have Bad Dreams Too?


Yes, dog’s may experience bad dreams too according to Dr. Carley Faughn, Best Friends Animal Society’s certified applied animal behaviorist.  In addition to these happier dreams, pets will sometimes experience night terrors, too. These can be due to previous encounters that were scary for them and creep into their subconscious dreams.  


Should You Wake  A Dreaming Dog?


No, you should not wake a dreaming dog.  “It can be difficult to watch your dog have a nightmare, or bad dream, but it is not recommended to wake a dog from their dreams—whether they are good or bad,” says Dr. Carley Faughn. “If you feel like a nightmare is going on too long or you do need to wake your pet, then I suggest starting with your voice at a calm level and saying their name until you can get them out of REM sleep.” 



golden Labrador dog lying in the grass with a woman in glasses resting her head on the dog and showing her loveFaughn warns that among other reasons to not wake a dog from a nightmare, if you try to wake your dog or cat while they are in a deep sleep and/or having a bad dream, they might be startled and accidentally overreact when awakened, potentially leading to a nip or bite.  


While nightmares are unpleasant for pets and their parents, they are usually harmless. However, there are medical conditions, such as seizures, that can be confused for nightmares. Faughn

 notes the biggest way to differentiate seizures from nightmares is that seizures tend to occur when cats/dogs are awake, and night terrors happen while they are asleep.  


 How Do I Know The Difference Between a Seizure and a Bad Dream?


A seizure can be indicative of other health issues, especially in our senior dogs so it is important to understand if your dog is having a nightmare or a seizure.  


“Typical signs to look for with a seizure would be a difference in breathing, such as labored breathing or difficulty taking a breath,” says Faughn. “If you notice other symptoms that seem out of the ordinary when your pet sleeps, then consult your veterinarian for a follow-up, just in case.” 

brown and white dog lying on a pillow sleeping


World Dream Day is a great day to continue to explore the human-pet bond and understanding their dreams is a great way to celebrate! Have you been dreaming of a dog?  Learn more about what the dogs in your dream mean in our article on dog dream symbolism: do the dogs in my dream mean anything? If you think it means you are ready to get a dog and are looking to expand your family, why not adopt and make a dream come true for cats and dogs in need of a forever home? Get started by visiting to find a shelter or rescue near you. 


Special thanks for Best Friends for their helpful information for this article.  



About Best Friends Animal Society 


Best Friends Animal Society is a leading animal welfare organization working to end the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters by 2025. Founded in 1984, Best Friends is a pioneer

 in the no-kill movement and has helped reduce the number of animals killed in shelters from an estimated 17 million per year to around 355,000. Best Friends runs lifesaving programs all across the country, as well as the nation’s largest no-kill animal sanctuary.

 Working collaboratively with a network of more than 3,900 animal welfare and shelter partners, and community members nationwide, Best Friends is working to Save Them All®. For more information, visit