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Why Do Dogs Twitch When They Sleep?

Here's what's really going on with their little doggy dreams.


Few things on this planet are cuter than a sleeping dog. Sure, they’re plenty adorable while awake, but there’s something extra precious about them while snoozing. They can even make snoring sound sweet! But if you’ve ever noticed your pooch twitching while in slumberland, you’ve probably wondered what exactly was going on. 

It turns out, our dogs are a lot like us when they’re dozing. Yep, they have dreams — including ones about how much they love their owners! But those probably aren’t the ones that make them jolt and move around. That is, unless the dream version of you has tossed a toy for them to run after and catch. Or they might be chasing after a squirrel that keeps popping up. Like humans, canines can have active imaginations at night that make their physical bodies react despite being deep in slumber. 

In fact, experts at the American Kennel Club claim most animals have similar movements caused by their dreams. They’re called myoclonic twitches and usually occur more frequently when they’re younger. Along with dreams, puppies and young animals are also figuring their limbs out, which can cause them to unconsciously stretch and bend their limbs more often than older ones. 

Unfortunately, the fact that they dream also means that like us, they can have nightmares, too. That might make their twitches seem a little more stressful, but the AKC advises against trying to wake them up from any bad dreams. Think about the last time you woke up from a particularly jarring dream — it probably took you a few moments to re-acclimate to reality. Dogs feel the same, but they might react differently. “Unlike with us, when a dog is awakened in the middle of a nightmare, it can lead to an unintended bite,” the AKC explains. So don’t worry, they’ll wake up on their own eventually and be ready for cuddles to help calm them back down.

Let’s hope all pups, pets, and their owners have more good dreams than bad ones, though. Be sure to spend plenty of time together inspiring happy memories that your minds can thick back on while snoozing!

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