why do dogs bark in their sleep
Image by Volker Glätsch from Pixabay

Is your dog waking you up in the middle of the night with its barking? Read on to find out why this might be happening!

You’re in your bed, sleeping peacefully when all of a sudden, a loud noise wakes you up. You shoot up, rubbing the sleep out of your eyes, and try to find the source. All of a sudden, you look over and there’s your dog, barking. But there’s a catch – your dog’s peacefully asleep. It doesn’t even know what it’s doing! There are plenty of reasons why your furry friend might be doing all of this. Below, we’ll explore some reasons why dogs bark in their sleep.

Why Do Dogs Bark in Their Sleep?

A dog bark is the equivalent of a human shout. Dogs use these loud noises to communicate with each other for a variety of reasons. Dogs can be acting protectively over their territory, barking out of fear, or looking for attention, or they could be barking just to say hello! But, these all happen when dogs are awake and aware. Why would they be barking in their sleep?


why do dogs bark in their sleep
Photo by Leo Rivas on Unsplash

Most likely, your dog is just dreaming! Dogs dream just like humans do. Their brainwave patterns and their sleep cycles are extremely similar to ours, which explains the twitches, growls, and whines we see and hear when they sleep. In a study done with rats, scientists from MIT, or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found that rats could be seen acting out actions from their day in their sleep. They theorized that since a dog’s brain is more complex, they must do the same thing. It turns out, dogs do. If you think about it, there’s probably at least one time that you remember seeing your dog making some kind of movement in their sleep. Their barking is no different. Chances are, your dog’s remembering something crazy from his or her day and living it out again in his or her dreams.

These scientists used a lot of equipment to figure out how rats recreate their everyday activities when they sleep, but for dogs, it’s a lot easier to tell. Wait until your dog’s been asleep for about 20 minutes. Then, he or she will start dreaming. It’s as easy as that! Soon, you’ll see your dog acting out an event from his or her day.

Should You Do Anything?

Some dog owners might get concerned over the sounds and twitches their dog makes in their sleep. I know I have! My black Lab, Lyla, is a very active dreamer. More often than not, she makes this high-pitched wheezing sound, and every time I or my partner hear it, we tend to freak out a little bit. More often than not, we’d gently pet her or shake her awake. Lately, though, we decided to let her keep sleeping. Turns out, that might be the better thing to do.

It’s probably best to not wake up your furry friend while he or she sleeps. Dogs need around 14-16 hours of sleep a day, almost double what humans need. Waking up a dog abruptly can disorient them and lead to aggressive behavior, such as snapping or even biting. It’s much easier and nicer for everyone involved to let your dog sleep through his or her dream. When your dog does wake up on its own, you can then give them all the love and cuddles in the world.

What Else Should Be Done?

If your dog’s barking is bothering you too much, you can always move your dog to another room. However, if your dog is barking or moving a lot in their sleep and you are absolutely worried, you can always try reaching your dog with soothing tones. Dogs respond well to their owner’s voice and find it comforting, like a little child with their parents. Speaking in soft tones can help calm your dog down. You should also make sure that when he or she is up, you give him or her all the comforts you couldn’t while he or she was asleep. If your dog was having a nightmare, he or she may come to you (or you’ll go to him or her) and just give lots of hugs and pets. It always helps your dog to feel safe and loved after something shocking.

What If My Dog Is Barking in Its Sleep for Other Reasons?

We’ve established that dogs typically bark in their sleep when they’re dreaming of an event, and more often than not, it’s harmless. What about the instances where it isn’t? Sometimes, dogs can be sending us signals through their sleep behaviors (or lack thereof). If your dog is still awake while he or she is barking, it could be a sign of insomnia. Insomnia in dogs is rare, so if your dog is suffering from it, something could be very wrong. Dogs can have many underlying conditions that lead to being awake and barking. They could be in pain or they could be having an anxiety attack. It always helps to call your vet to voice your concerns and get a professional opinion.

Snoring is another condition that should be taken seriously. Many times, owners mistake snoring for barking, which can lead to confusion. Light snoring is ok, but if your dog is heavily snoring every night, something may be wrong. Once again, the best solution is to call your vet and schedule an appointment to discuss any fears you may have.

Pet owners get worried over things that seem abnormal in their dogs, and for good reason. For many owners, their pets are their family, and they are treated as such. Dogs barking in their sleep is a weird occurrence, for sure, but it’s not one that should make you worried. Sleepbarking is normal and comes from the fact that our dogs dream, just like we do. Let them sleep it out, and they will be fine and ready to go in the morning.

why do dogs bark in their sleep

Dahlia Baerga (9)

I'm a high school English teacher who is starting back up with my writing passion and trying to make something of it. I'm also a grad student and a first time mom to an extremely rambunctious two year old. I am obsessed with animals; I have two cats and a dog and plan on adding more in the future.

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