My dog cries like it's having nightmares during sleep. Why? Does yours?

I have a perfectly happy adult Golden, in love with the world and everyone in it.

What weirds me out is that when he sleeps, and starts dreaming–I think–and goes into that body-quivering “chasing rabbits” mode, his vocalizations go far from the normal little churrups and mewls that dogs usually have when they sleep.

It gets louder and louder, and turns into loud choked crying, so that for the life of me and and my wife it sounds like when people are having terrible nightmares. It even wakes us up at night. We then go “cluck cluck” with our tongues, or some other vague sounds, to bring him up a little higher out of REM sleep, but not wake him up completely (I read to do that in a vet book–:confused:).

We do it because if freaks us out. We think he’s having nightmares, but that can’t be, right? Does your dog do that? What’s going on? Is my dog living a lie during waking hours, and it all reveals itself from his doggie unconscious?

Adric makes noises, but they don’t sound distressed.

There’s no reason to think your dog is not having nightmares. I have no idea what you’d do about that, though.

Does he seem happy during the day?

My dogs do this, but I think it’s “frustration” noises even though they sound rather distressed.

My dog makes noises during sleep, but only sometimes do I think it is a nightmare. A few weeks ago she woke me with her whimpering. Odd too, 'cause she hardly ever whimpers when she is awake.

You called your dog Adric? As in Doctor Who Adric?

Our Dalmatian does this periodically. We assume she’s chasing rabbits in her dreams and is frustrated that she can’t catch one, so we just wake her up gently and then let her fall back asleep. That usually does the trick.

Zora just snores.

That’s just dream barking–sorta like us murmuring in our sleep. Happy doggy dreams.

Why couldn’t dogs have nightmares if they could have happy ones?

My old dog Mira had a nightmare once. It was pretty clearly a bad dream. She was HOWLING like she was terrified and when my mom woke her up, she was wild-eyed and freaked.out. She had to be calmed down.

If one of my major fears was drinking out of the toilet, and the lid falls, I’d have nightmares too.

I’ll just leave this here.

My dog something very similar to what you’re describing. It’s a lot more than just a little jiggly ‘rabbit chasing’ dreams. He yelps like he’s excited, never growls, doesn’t sound like he’s hurting or anything. But it’s louder than you can imagine, and has woken us in the night.

His legs and feet go too, (though nothing compared to Bizit in the above video).

My last dog was put down after suffering ever increasing, in intensity and duration, seizures. So when we first got this one I was convinced it was having seizure. It took the vet to convince me otherwise.

I’m kind of used to it now, but it really freaked me out in the beginning.

It’s obvious that the dog is dreaming. What isn’t obvious is whether its a happy dream or a nightmare.

A happy bark in a dog’s dream could sound like frightened yelp by the time it makes it from the dreaming brain to the dogs mouth.

I once had a horrible nightmare and was screaming my head off in the dream. the wife said I was making a sound like wooooooeeeeeee. Another time she woke me because she thought I was scared half to death from the sound of my voice. In my dream I was singing with a choir.

I have a cat who sometimes MEOWS in her sleep like she had a nightmare.


Why does the OP believe animals can’t have nightmares? One of my ferrets did on a fairly regular basis, and it was one of the few times you ever heard her make distress noises.

Thank you! That was awesome!

My Lhasa-Shitz has nightmares. Rarely, thankfully. I just checked with the SO and the black lab that he had for years would have them occasionally. If you believe that dogs have happy dreams (and I do) then they probably have bad ones too. When I hear her having them, I hold her and pet her until she wakes up or falls back to sleep peacefully.