It is a peaceful night, and after a tough day, you are in a deep sleep. “Woof woof,” you hear your dog barking at night. Oh no! He is barking in his sleep again. Is everything okay?
Every dog owner is well aware that, just like humans, dogs also have their language. To us, it is just a sound, but for them, barking, howling, and whining is a way to communicate or express their feelings. But what if they are barking in their sleep? Does it mean your dog is having a nightmare?
Dog Barking In Sleep
Waking up to your dog barking relentlessly in the middle of the night is horrible. Half asleep, your mind starts racing: Is the poor fella having a nightmare? Why do dogs bark in sleep? If you are looking for an answer to the above questions while your dog is barking in the next room, continue reading. We are going to discuss all about dogs barking in sleep.
Let’s find out!
Is a Dog Barking in Sleep Normal?
Yes, it is completely normal for dogs to bark in their sleep and nothing to be worried about—in fact, it proves that your fellow is healthy and fit. Just like every mammal, dogs also dream, and as a result, they bark sometimes.
Not only barking, but you can see other body movements of your dog as well. Nobody is sure about what they dream of, but it is suggested that dogs’ dreams can feature horror, happiness, or sadness, and it is advised not to wake them up as you might interrupt their dream and sleep.
Unlike humans, dogs not only visualize dreams but also use other senses like smell, hearing, and taste. That’s why, while dreaming, they also twitch their eyes, wiggle their ears, and move their body according to the dream they are having. Research has shown that the brain waves produced by dogs in their sleep have many similarities to that of humans.
Read: Do Puppies Sleep a Lot?
Right after laying down, dogs go through the stage of relaxation for about 10 minutes. Their heart rate and body temperature go down as they enter the light sleep stage. After this stage, they enter into non-REM (rapid eye movement) sleep—a deeper state—and their body starts to regrow, rebuild, and repair the muscles, tissues, and bones. Finally, it is time to step into the REM sleep cycle, also known as the rapid eye movement cycle. During this stage, the heart rate and breathing frequency increase, and that is when humans and dogs dream.
How much the dog will bark during the REM sleep cycle depends on different breeds and can vary for an individual. Small dogs switch from REM sleep cycle to non-REM sleep cycle every 10 minutes. Hence, they bark more than large dogs, whereas big dogs enter the REM cycle after every 90 minutes, so they dream and bark less.
What About Dogs Barking At the Moon?
It is said that when dogs look at the moon, they see the first-ever dog who went up into space—Laika. However, it is nothing but a myth. The full moon is beautiful and lightens up the environment, allowing them to spot anything happening in the surroundings quickly, so they bark. Dogs bark with their heads up to communicate with their distant friends and family—this is also one of the reasons behind dogs barking at the moon.
Whenever you hear your little fellow barking at night, the initial step should be to check whether he is asleep or needs you? He might be hungry, scared, or lonely and barking for your attention. Once you are sure that he is barking in sleep, there is nothing to do. As mentioned earlier, he is just dreaming, and barking while dreaming is ordinary. Never wake your dog up as it can disturb their sleep cycle, leaving them disoriented. If they are dreaming something terrifying, waking them up can scare them, and they might attack or bite you.
However, if your dog is showing signs of pain like heart pounding rapidly, breathing fastly or hardly catching breath, or making terrifying sounds, then it is advised to wake him up gently with your voice to avoid him snapping at you. If he doesn’t wake up, call a vet immediately.
Why Do Dogs Bark In Their Sleep?
Dogs may bark in their sleep for various reasons. Below we have discussed some of the most common reasons for a dog barking in sleep.
· Your Dog Is Dreaming
Yes, dogs dream. They relive the happiest moments of their day during the deep REM cycle of their sleep. So, if your dog is barking in sleep, there is a huge chance that he is reliving the time you spent with him during the day. In this case, you have nothing to worry about.
Where dogs can have happy dreams, they can also have bad dreams, just like humans. While in happy dreams, dogs are chasing a small rodent or playing with their owners; in bad dreams, your dog might be running away from a predator. With barking, your dog might be twitching his eyes, and there can be some other body movements depending on their dream.
· Your Dog Sensed an Intruder
You would never want this, but there could be an intruder in the house. Your dog might have spotted someone breaking into the house and started barking just to tell you that there is danger.
So if you hear your dog barking in the middle of the night, you should immediately go and check if your dog is asleep or not. If your dog is awake, there could be a huge chance there is an intruder in the house. Unleash your dog, let him out of his crate or room, take a bat in your hand, and go through the house to check if there was a security breach. The intruder has probably fled after hearing the bark of your guard dog. Still, you should make sure of it.
· Your Dog Might Be Seeing a Ghost
While we do not really know if dogs can see ghosts or not, seeing your dog barking at nothing or barking in sleep, you may think that your dog is sensing some kind of apparition. If your dog is barking in its sleep and twitching its ears and eyes, you should not wake up your dog as it might startle him.
· Sudden Noise Startles Him
Our dogs have a great sense of hearing—as compared to humans, they can hear sounds around four times further away. This sudden sound can be from anything from a door slam in an apartment downstairs to an alarm going off in the neighborhood. So if a loud sound startles your dog, he may start barking in his sleep.
· Your Dog Is In Pain
Dogs often bark in sleep due to pain. They sleep in an attempt to get the attention of their loving owners. This is mostly seen in senior dogs or dogs suffering from chronic health issues. Therefore, if you hear your dog is barking in the middle of the night, you should visit him and check if he is doing all right. If need be, you should call your vet or take him to an emergency.
Is the Noise Disturbing Your Sleep?
Watching your furry friend barking and twitching in his sleep and wondering what he is dreaming about is one of the cutest feelings ever. Still, excessive or continuous barking can badly affect your sleep schedule. If this is the case, there is no need to worry. There are a few practical tips for you to manage your dog barking in sleep.
Tips to Minimize Barking Sounds at Night
- First and foremost, make sure he isn’t barking due to loneliness—especially if he is your new pet. Dogs sleep with their groups (families) and might be barking due to homesickness. Make his bed in your room and observe if there are any changes or not.
- If he is not a new addition to the family and barking in sleep is habitual, then you can move his bed far from your room to avoid any disturbance in your sleep.
- If placing his bed far away is not making any difference, you can talk to a vet for guidance but never try home remedies. It is better to tolerate the sound than to give him treatments to stop natural phenomena.
- Even if the sleep cycles are similar, you should never give human medicines to your dog, or else they can suffer from severe health complications.
Use calming dog treats to calm your dog down. You can also use dog calming diffusers. These diffusers release pleasant and scented pheromones that calm down the dog and help them sleep peacefully.
- Use earplugs to cancel out the noise.
- If your dog is crate-trained, you can put your dog’s bed in its crate and then put a blanket on the crate to cancel out all the outside noise that might be disturbing your dog.
Dog barking in sleep is as normal as dog barking while they are awake. It is a part of their REM cycle and nothing else.
Waking them up during the REM dream cycle can be unhealthy for the dog and can make them exhausted and weak throughout the day as it can disturb their sleep pattern.
Play with your dogs, spend quality time with them, give them body rubs and do all the good things you can do to provide them with sweet memories of the day because that is what they are going to dream about.
But if their sound is interrupting your sleep, you can simply place their bed in a place that is far from your room. Or you can try earplugs or a white noise machine for a good night’s sleep. However, if your dog seems to be in pain while barking in sleep— panting excessively and cannot catch his breath and making a whimpering sound— you can go ahead, wake him up, and give your vet a call. But be careful.
Instead of waking him with your touch, you should try to wake your dog by calling out his name. If that does not work, you should gently pet him on his belly. While doing so, keep in mind that the dog may snap at you.
Don’t forget to check if they are barking in sleep or awake because they might be feeling bored, scared, need your attention, are hungry, or want to pee. We hope you enjoyed our article. Happy petting!