SHOULD YOU TOUCH DREAMING DOGS?

Harley was stretched out on the floor sleeping. The next thing I knew he was whining, twitching and resembled my human children having a restless sleep. Instinctively, I got up from the sofa and walked over to him.  My neighbor almost lost her mind as she shouted – STOP! DON’T TOUCH HIM! YOU NEVER TOUCH DREAMING DOGS!…

NEVER WAKE DREAMING DOGS

When this happened I was a new pet parent, what did I know? I had no clue about canine behavior – so I listened to her and sank back down onto the sofa cushion. #soconfused

Ever since that day, I’ve watched my Dood’s whine and twitch in their sleep and I’ve cooed them softly from a distance, never really understanding –

  • why can’t I touch them?
  • why shouldn’t I touch them?

WHAT DO YOU THINK? –

A question I’ve asked many people with pets over the course of seven years.

THE CONSENSUS? –

While those mournful wails and yelps may tug at our heartstrings  we should be mindful of that famous quote –

Let sleeping dogs lie.

Harley and Jaxson are more prone to dreams/nightmares after days of non-stop activities. So whenever the sleeping symphonies start, I watch and wonder –

  • Is this a dream? Are they running across the meadow chasing a huge ball? (common signs of a good dream would be twitching, kicking and making quiet noises).

Or

  • Is this a nightmare? Are they being mangled by wild dogs and I’m no where in sight to save them (common signs of a nightmare are growling, crying and sometimes screaming). 

Constantly waking them could also be harmful –

 Dogs dream and sleep much like humans, with similar REM patterns. Although most dogs sleep 14 to 16 hours a day, they still need some of the deep, uninterrupted sleep we do. So, if you have a dog that seems to dream a lot, constantly waking your pup may be unhealthy for him. Source: Tamara McRill

TO TOUCH OR NOT TO TOUCH? –

That is “indeed” the question!

Apparently no matter how well trained and loving your pet may be, waking them from an REM sleep could be asking for a snarl, growl or even worse – a bite.

Knowing both Harley and Jaxson I find this very hard to believe, but I’ve not tested this theory. #mommadidntraisenofool

I found this two part series (from my bestie Wiki) – How to Know if Your Dog is Dreaming – to be helpful.

In Part 1 Learning your Dog’s “Dream” Body Language…

NEVER WAKE DREAMING DOGS

It covers –

  • Learning the different sleep stages
  • Observing your dog’s eye movements
  • Watching your dog’s body movements
  • Listening to your dog’s vocalizations

In Part 2 Knowing What to do When Your Dog is Dreaming…

PT-2

It covers –

  • Not to interrupt your dog when he is dreaming
  • Not to touch your dog when he is dreaming

And this was something I never EVER thought about –

  • Learn what a seizure looks like. Recognizing what a seizure looks like will help you determine if your dog is having a seizure or having just a very active dream.

I’m a strong believer that there are many ways to reach the same outcome and sharing ideas can yield great results. Therefore –

HERE’S MY THREE STEP APPROACH –

Whenever one of the Boys are dreaming, I –

  1. Don’t touch no matter how difficult it may be, I stand my ground and give them space
  2. Use my “comforting” voiceI call their name softly and slowly over and over again until they seem to respond
  3. LOVE – Once they’re finally awake, I take a few minutes to lay on the love! We cuddle, I hug, rub and snuggle if possible to reassure them their okay.

Does your dog dream? What’s your technique?

Make today a great start to a Doodletastic weekend ❤️

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33 Comments
  • Emma
    July 22, 2016

    My mom finds it fascinating to watch us dream when we are sleeping. The noises and movements we make she finds so interesting. The only time she wakes us is if I’m snoring because I snore like an old, fat, man and she can’t sleep! I will stay with the don’t wake group.

    • Cathy Bennett
      July 22, 2016

      HA! Did you say like “an old fat man?” That is too funny. Ask your mom to video tape your snoring – I’d love to hear that. Have a great weekend!

  • Caren Gittleman
    July 22, 2016

    Ohhh I learned a LONG time ago NEVER to try and touch Dakota when he is sleeping, NOT a good idea!

    • Cathy Bennett
      July 23, 2016

      Oh nooooo Caaren, dod you have one of those moments? Do tell…

    • Rebbeca fuller
      July 15, 2018

      Hahah my dog gets super grumpy when he sleeps its so funny

      • Cathy Bennett
        July 23, 2018

        Does he seem to fuss when you try to wake him up? I have one that will actually roll his eyes if he’s not ready to get up. Too funny indeed.

  • Beth
    July 22, 2016

    I really like watching my dogs dream, but if it seems like they are in distress, I just talk calmly to them. It seems to help.

    • Cathy Bennett
      July 23, 2016

      Me too Beth – I am amazed at how they can be in a total REM sleep pattern, yet the sound of my voice can stop the tremors, winning and twitching. It never worked like that for the human children. LOL Thanks for stopping by, please come again soon.

  • Monika & Sam
    July 23, 2016

    Because the whimpering doesn’t last too long, we have avoided touching. Based on your research, seems like we (finally) did the right thing! 😉

    • Cathy Bennett
      July 23, 2016

      Thanks to my friend Monika – I never did “touch” (she scared the doodle out of me), and now that I “know” all the reasons, I’m glad I did the right thing too! Have a wonderful weekend my friend!

  • Sand Spring Chesapeakes
    July 23, 2016

    Great post. Gambler is 5 and the other night he was sleeping next to me and I reached out and touched him and he woke up and snapped. He has never did that before so I guess leave sleeping dogs lie.

    • Cathy Bennett
      July 24, 2016

      OMDoodle – and I know that shocked you because Gambler would never snap at you otherwise. I think you’re the first person to share with me that you actually had this experience. Most people start out with “I heard.” Thanks so much for sharing JoAnn, your comment will help many.

  • Callie, Shadow, and Ducky's Mom
    July 24, 2016

    I think our motherly instincts tell us to “awaken and comfort” but we have to remember that, despite the similarities, dogs are not children. My mom taught my brother and me from a young age to leave the dog alone when she was sleeping. Like, Emma’s mom though, I find it fascinating to watch the dogs sleep. Shadow’s snoring is usually so soft and light that I barely hear it. Callie was a teensy bit louder, but not enough to keep me awake. Ducky makes sweet, little squeaky noises. It’s been so long now (12-1/2 years) that I don’t remember any more what Kissy did in her sleep.

    • Cathy Bennett
      July 24, 2016

      I just wrote something similar about our “motherly instincts” in one of my comments. I think their sounds make us believe their suffering and we don’t want that to happen. But I also have to remind myself they are dogs and not humans.

  • Dz Dogs
    July 24, 2016

    If it seems to be a good dream I just watch, but sometimes the whining and the crying I find sad and a bit upsetting to watch. I try to wake them slowly when I do, and half the time they don’t wake fully I just soothe them.

    I start by talking to them and getting nice and close, then gently rubbing their shoulders working my way up their necks like a massage. It relaxes them and they only wake up about 50% of the time but the crying stops! 🙂

    • Cathy Bennett
      July 24, 2016

      I’ve never tried to “touch” but Like you I have sometimes gotten really close #andpersonal. We probably think their suffering somewhat and being the nurturer that we are…

  • Tenacious Little Terrier
    July 25, 2016

    Mr. N doesn’t sleep startle but I try to wake him up gently. He’s a light sleeper anyway.

    • Cathy Bennett
      July 26, 2016

      I would never have guessed Mr. N. as a light sleeper – not after all the climbing he does! Such a cutie!!!

  • Jan K
    July 25, 2016

    I will only wake them if they seem very distressed – lots of whining, crying, and twitching. But I only do so by gently touching or rubbing their leg.
    Cricket snores like a sailor sometimes and we love to hear it, it always makes us smile! It’s funny though, I can listen to her snoring, but if hubby snores he DEFINITELY gets woken up. LOL

    • Cathy Bennett
      July 26, 2016

      I agree with you. A dogs snore can lull me to sleep – a man’s snore drives me nuts! LOL

  • Kimberly Gauthier
    July 29, 2016

    I love learning new things about dogs. This is a fantastic post! It must be shared.

    • Cathy Bennett
      July 29, 2016

      Why thank you so much Kimberly. “Share-on” my sister! Have a great weekend 🙂

  • Jen Gabbard
    August 1, 2016

    Thank you for this, it’s something I struggle with often. My dog Laika has dreams (possibly nightmares) all the time and at least a couple times a week she howls in her sleep. The first couple of times it happened I was freaked out, but I’ve since learned that talking to her in a calm voice is a nice gentle way to wake her.

    Unfortunately her loud sleeping habits make it impossible for her to sleep in my room, but she does get the whole couch to herself.

    • Cathy Bennett
      August 1, 2016

      I too have a snorer. Harley will snore when he’s extremely tired. It doesn’t keep us up at night, it’s just funny to hear a dog snore!

  • Lindsay
    August 10, 2016

    I thought this was such a good post. I shared it in my newsletter today. It’s something I hadn’t really thought too much about before. Duh! Don’t touch a sleeping dog, especially if he’s having a bad dream.

    • Cathy Bennett
      August 10, 2016

      Thanks so much Lindsay! That’s PAWsome! It seems to be getting a lot of attention lately #makesmehappy XOXO

  • Charlotte Anderson
    October 14, 2016

    My neighbor woke up her sleeping greyhound with a gentle kiss, but it startled the pup and it snapped at her and bit her. So no, I don’t wake sleeping dogs!

    • Cathy Bennett
      October 15, 2016

      I’ve heard many stories like that – even as gentle as my Boys are when they are awake – I respect that they are “dogs” and I gently call them from a distance. Thanks so much for stopping by, come back and visit again soon! Have a Doodle*tastic weekend!

  • Heather Reid
    December 28, 2016

    Thanks for posting this. I have heard the “Never touch a sleeping dog” before, but I thought it was like the “never touch a sleepwalker” rule, just old fashioned and not grounded. I do see how it could go wrong. Max is very startle-able. Usually I put one hand on his back and say his name gently. He usually wakes up just enough to settle down again. My five year old sits up and yells in her sleep, simply talking to her works well to lay her down again, I’ll definitely try this with Max from now on.

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 9, 2017

      Yep – we ALL only call their names softly a few times, and I am always amazed at how quickly they fall back into an REM sleep.

  • Taryn
    November 15, 2017

    Great post! I missed it the first time around!

  • Annie Oakes
    April 24, 2018

    Hello Friends,
    My momma calms my “bad” dreams by slowly and softly repeating the following phrase, “It’s ok, you good boy” until I’m right back in a peaceful sleep which only takes a second or two. I also snore sometimes but she NEVER wakes me. You see, after many years sleeping side by side our snore began to sync. Now, we actually wake simultaneously if one of us stops the snoring b/c the silence is deafening, lols.
    Love Brie

    • Cathy Bennett
      April 26, 2018

      I too talk to them in a soft soothing tone. It really seems to help them calm down. Thanks so much for stopping by, please come back again soon!

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