Do Pugs Have Nightmares?
Based on research where they’ve studied dogs brain waves while sleeping, it is suspected that dogs have dreams because they have very similar sleep cycles to humans. If they dream, it is likely that some of those dreams are “bad dreams” or nightmares.
Scientists have used EEG testing to watch the brainwaves of dogs as they sleep. They found that dogs go through similar patterns of brain waves and brain activity like we do when we sleep. Like us, dogs go through a phase of sleep (REM sleep) where where their breathing is irregular, they experience more body movements and rapid eye movements, like we do.
We have no way of knowing for sure what dogs dream about. However, our best guess is that they dream for similar reasons that we do – to process their life events. This means they likely dream about things they have experienced, both good and bad. In short, that means they likely have a mixture of good dreams and nightmares.
Research has shown that small dogs dream more frequently than large dogs, and that puppies dream more than older dogs.
This also means that dogs who have been abandoned, abused or otherwise experienced trauma are more likely to have nightmares.
How To Help Your Pug With Nightmares
You may suspect that your dog is having a nightmare if they are sleeping and making sounds of distress. Maybe they whine or cry, for example. It can be tempting to wake them up to stop their nightmare. This is generally not recommended, because a dog who is awoken suddenly from a disturbing dream may growl or even bite out of fear as they wake up.
This wouldn’t really be the dog’s fault, it can be a stress response to the nightmare combined with the confusion of being awoken from the bad dream. So, it’s safest to avoid touching them or startling them if they are having a nightmare.
If you’d like to safely wake them up, you can try softly saying their name until they awaken. When they hear your calm voice, this can help them to close the gap between their dream experience and “real life”.
Your ability to control the frequency of your dog’s dreams or nightmares will be somewhat limited, but there are some things you can do to try to help. Giving them an enjoyable, comforting bedtime routine can help them drift off to sleep in a better mood, which may reduce the odds of a nightmare. Making sure their belly is full, their bed is cozy and free from things that scare them can be key. If your dog has separation anxiety when kenneled at night, you can try putting a piece of your worn clothing in their kennel so they can be comforted by your scent at night.
You may also find that helping your dog overcome their fears in real life may reduce their nightmares. We believe that dogs dream about things they experience in real life, as we don’t think they have the ability to imagine things different from anything they’ve ever experienced. This means most likely your dog’s bad dreams are about things they have experienced in person and disliked. If they are afraid of baths, they might have nightmares about baths, for example. If that’s the case, then working on making your dog more comfortable with getting a bath may reduce their odds of having nightmares about baths.
When To Be Concerned About Your Pugs Nightmares
If your pug “screams” while sleeping, growls or exhibits aggressive behavior, these can be signs of a sleep disorder. Some dogs with sleep disorders can eve walk around while asleep, or chase other animals or people. If you suspect this could be the case with your pug, try to get a video of the behavior and then meet up with your vet to show the video and discuss the problem.
Most dogs who have sleep disorders are young, 64% of dogs with sleep disorders are 1 year or younger. There are treatments available for sleep disorders so get to your vet so they can help.