Why Do Dogs Bark In Their Sleep? Are They Dreaming?

Akinwalere Olaleye
Oct 06, 2023 By Akinwalere Olaleye
Originally Published on Oct 11, 2021
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The little brown puppy of the Cocker Spaniel breed is sleeping.

Dogs are one of the kindest and most lovely animals in the whole animal kingdom.

They follow your command and listen to all your instructions and never complain. In return, they expect you to cope with some of their behavioral characteristics which can be annoying at times.

Have you ever woken up to sudden dog bark in the middle of the night when there is nothing going on? This can be very annoying at times and even more when you are tired after a long day of work.

However, there is nothing you can do about it as it is a natural dog trait that can't be altered. Have you ever thought why this happens around 3 am?

Is it a danger sign for your dog? Or is it an intentional trick that they are playing on you? There are many questions, but the reason behind them is very simple.

In this very article, we shall be discussing why dogs like to bark in the middle of the night. Keep reading to know why they like to make noise in their sleep.

If you love fun facts, then you will also like our facts on why do dogs bark at nothing and why do dogs eat grass and vomit.

Why do dogs whimper in their sleep?

Dogs have a sleep cycle similar to humans. A lot of times, when your pet dog sleeps, it is very likely you will hear small barks escaping its mouth. It is probably because your dog is dreaming. Dogs dream just like humans. In a dream, your pup could be seeing something very exciting, and that's why it is barking!

You may hear whimpering sounds in the middle of the night, and your dog is completely responsible for that. Whimpering or barking is a sign that your dog is dreaming about something.

If you hear your dog barking in its sleep, it is completely fine. Do not get scared and do not wake your dog up.

A dog's sleep pattern and sleep cycle is closely related to that of a human. Just like humans, dogs also go through stages of sleep one by one.

After laying for several minutes, they enter a light stage of sleep where they are not completely asleep and can slightly feel the outer world. Somehow with time, their body relaxes and they doze off. Just like humans and other animals, a dog's body also starts repairing itself when it is in a deep sleep.

The body repairs itself when the sleep cycle is at the non rem phase. During this phase, the brain stays completely blank and causes no stress on the body.

The rate of breathing and heart rate decreases too. In dogs, their body temperature also falls when they are deep asleep.

In this state, the body repairs itself. The body then enters the rem phase, which is also known as the rapid eye movement phase.

This naturally happens around 3 am. During this phase, the mind starts creating stories and scenes, which we call a dream.

Just like humans, dogs also get good dreams and, at times, nightmares too. When the mind is in the rem phase, the body can't repair itself. During this phase, the body temperature and breathing rate both rise, stopping the repairing activities.

When your dog's brain is in this stage, you can notice small movements in its body followed by whimpers and barking. Body movements that you can observe are moving ears, movement in the mouth muscles, the legs will shake a bit, and its tail will also shuffle.

These movements are very normal during sleeping. Your dog's whimpers or growl noises can disturb your sleeping, but if you love your dog, then you can adjust to these.

Your dog barking is actually a confirmation that your puppy or dog is quite healthy. Loud growl noises are made by a puppy, while adult dogs are not that loud in general.

Do all dog breeds bark in the sleep?

When dogs bark during sleep, it is more likely that they are barking at someone or something in their dream. Just like humans, dogs can also channelize their dream with real life, which results in body movements and various noises.

Night barks are not breed-specific. It is just a normal dog behavior that indicates that they are dreaming or maybe in between a nightmare.

Vet doctors say not to worry or to wake up your dog when they are in the middle of a dream as sudden waking can cause distress to the brain.

All dog breeds go through this dream phenomenon like humans. They also get dreams just like us when in rem sleep.

These dreams can be of many types, from normal to abnormal and weird. If you wake up listening to your pet dog's rem sleep bark, then you will also notice that it is moving his ears or twitching its paws with a slow tail wag.

Don't worry, a dog twitching in sleep is just a reflex.

When sleeping, your dog could be dreaming that it is chasing someone, maybe a thief or a cat, and that is why it is twitching its legs. Your dog will also wag its tail and that's a very common thing to see.

It could be possible that your dog is playing with you in its dream. The body can recover itself when all the senses are switched off, but during rem sleep, most of the senses stay awake, which doesn't allow the body to go through repair stages.

Studies have proved that dogs also get nightmare dreams.

Instead of them chasing somebody, somebody else might be chasing them in their dreams. It is important to wake them up slowly as suddenly waking them up causes heavy distress on their mind.

Another reason for why you should not awake your dog is that you never know if it's a good dream or bad. If it is a good dream, the twitching and noises will just be a jolt on the brain and the behavior is normal.

If it is a nightmare that is going on, suddenly waking your dog up can trigger severe anxiety and your dog might suddenly become aggressive and cause damage.

If your dog is sleeping, it is best to let it be even if it is making a noise. Just like us, a dog doesn't matter what breed it is, can also recover from nightmares naturally and will need no extra pampering.

Headshot of sleeping puppy.

Why do dogs move in their sleep?

Have you ever been sleeping and experienced a very emotional or sad dream, and then suddenly you wake up just to find out that your eyes are actually wet as if you have cried in real life? The same thing happens with your dog! The growling or barking noise are nothing but reflexes.

If you notice your dog twitch when sleeping, this is because it is moving in it mind, which means it is just dreaming. When you consult a vet, they will say to you these twitch movements are totally okay.

This is just like you moving your hands or legs while having dreams.

A lot of people even mumble when they are dreaming and just like us, dogs also bark or make whimpering sounds when they are sleeping at night. It seems very cute when they move their ears and tail while sleeping.

There is no need to wake your dog but keep an eye on them and make sure they are sleeping and making sounds.

If they are awake in the middle of the night and moving around and making noise, they probably have a physical problem or something is up with their health. They will let you know through growling sounds.

What should you do if your dog barks in their sleep?

In the middle of the night, waking up to your dog's howling, which is just some rem bark noise, can be tough. This can result in a serious issue, not just for the dog but for you!

These barks are completely fine and are in fact healthy barks because it means your dog is dreaming. It's just like you mumbling in your sleep, just the difference is that a dog's mumbles are a bit louder!

There is nothing you have to do if your dog is barking in its sleep. In fact, it is better if you do not do anything if you find your dog in this situation.

Your dog is showing such behavior because it is just dreaming. Dogs also have dreams, just like us.

This is not a bad sign and is perfectly normal for your dog. Even though it is perfectly normal for your dog, it might not be perfect for you and your family members.

Waking up to your dog's calls in the middle of the night can be frustrating, but you should not wake your dog up for that. To minimize the disturbance to your and your family, you can find ways to make their barking sound less impactful.

For example, you can simply put your dog's bed further from your own bed or in place where sound won't reach you or your family members. There is simply nothing more you can do about it.

Even if you have placed your dog's bed far from you, keep in mind to check up on them to see whether they are snoring. Snoring and growling in rem sleep are completely different things. Snoring can be bad for your dog and you should consult a vet.

Snoring happens if the airflow is being restricted by something. It can be due to allergies, other health issues, or maybe their bad sleeping style. Consulting a professional vet can help in this case.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for why do dogs bark in their sleep? Are they dreaming? Then why not take a look at why do dogs get eye boogers, or why do flies bite? Everything people and pets need to know?

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Written by Akinwalere Olaleye

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Akinwalere Olaleye picture

Akinwalere OlaleyeBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

As a highly motivated, detail-oriented, and energetic individual, Olaleye's expertise lies in administrative and management operations. With extensive knowledge as an Editor and Communications Analyst, Olaleye excels in editing, writing, and media relations. Her commitment to upholding professional ethics and driving organizational growth sets her apart. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Benin, Edo State. 

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