What Do Dogs Dream About when They Cry?

Aside from eating and playing, dogs love to sleep! And if you like to admire them when they’re in deep slumber, you’ve probably seen them twitch and make noises like a cry or yelp.

If you have caught them crying in their sleep, then you’ve seen them dreaming about something that they typically do.

What do dogs dream about when they cry? Dreaming is only one of the possible reasons why dogs cry in their sleep.

We share with you what dogs dream about when they cry and whether or not you should wake them up.

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dogs dream about when they cry

Why Dogs Cry in Their Sleep

Here are some possible reasons why dogs cry in their sleep


Yes, dogs are capable of dreaming just like us.

Some dogs dream more than others, depending on their size and age. That’s because size and age determine the development of your dog’s brain. 

Like us, our dogs acquire new information daily and process it at night. 

When your dog is crying in their sleep, they could be having a nightmare. This might worry you, but it’s a normal and healthy part of sleep.

Seeking Attention

Make sure your dog is actually sleeping when they’re crying. Otherwise, they might just be requesting your attention.

If you’re crate training your dog, their crying could mean that they want out or need some food and water. 

They may also be crying because they feel hot or cold. Sometimes, they’re just bored and want to play!


Your dog may be crying in their sleep because they are in pain or distress. Dogs cannot express their feelings in words, so they resort to crying, whether they are awake or not.

Your dog may have had an internal injury that you’re not aware of. There may be an infection or inflammation in one part of the body that is not normally seen. 

Other signs that your dog is in pain include:

  • antisocial behavior
  • more vocal
  • changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • excessive grooming
  • mobility issues
  • heavy panting
  • changes in body posture.

If these signs of distress occur in your dog, seek the help of a vet immediately.

Learn more about how to tell if your dog is in pain.

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation may also be a reason for your dog’s distress. 

This video shows the condition of a dog who cries in its sleep every night because of sleep deprivation.

Do Dogs Dream?


Like us humans, dogs also dream as they experience rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and slow-wave sleep (SWS). 

As a dog falls asleep, its breathing becomes deeper and more regular. After about 20 minutes in REM, they start to dream. 

About 10% of a dog’s sleep is spent in the REM phase. As they dream, their breathing becomes shallow and their muscles twitch.

The sleep cycle of a dog differs from ours.  Humans will average about four or five complete cycles per night, with each cycle lasting roughly 90 minutes.

Our furry friends, on the other hand, have about 20 shorter 15-minute cycles.

What Dogs Dream About When They Cry

In general, dogs dream about day-to-day experiences. When they cry in their dreams, their pons controls the sleep cycles and regulates deep sleep. 

Without it, your dog will not only cry but also stand up and act out whatever it is they are crying about in their dreams. 

The pons serves as a pathway for conscious perception of pain, touch, and temperature. 

Again, dogs dream about their daily experiences. They are reliving the memories that occurred previously while they were awake. 

When your dog is crying, they could be dreaming about the frightening grooming procedure they had a while ago. 

They may also be dreaming about fireworks, thunder, or other things they are scared of.

Another thing they may be experiencing in their sleep is separation anxiety. They’re dreaming about being away from you and alone at home.

However, just because your dog cries in their sleep doesn’t mean it’s a nightmare right away.

Their cries can also be like mumbles of human sleep-talkers which are not fully developed when asleep. 

That means, they can whimper in their sleep and still be happy in their dreams!

The list could go on. This all depends on your dog’s daily moments.

Should You Wake Your Dog Up?

It’s unnecessary to wake your dog up when they are crying in their sleep. It may worry you, but, again, your dog may just be mumbling in their dreams.

All animals need uninterrupted sleep as it is good for their health. Waking them up suddenly can result in a bite due to them being surprised. 

You don’t have to wake them up. Just comfort them once they do wake up.

But if you wish to wake them up, gently call their name. Once they rise, let them go back to sleep by petting them calmly.


Do Dogs Sleep with Their Eyes Closed?

Just like us, dogs sleep with their eyes closed. But if their eyes are open while sleeping, that’s also normal.

Some dogs sleep with their eyes open because of their breed. Most do it because of their third eyelid, while others do so because of a dream.

Dogs may be running or chasing a toy or an animal in their dreams!
In some cases, it could be because of a seizure.

Learn more about your dog’s eyes when they are sleeping!

What Do Dogs Dream About When They Twitch?

While our dogs dream about day-to-day experiences, they could also experience fear, anxiety, or sadness in their dreams, which is why they twitch in their sleep.

They may be dreaming about being left alone, especially if they have separation anxiety. 

Others include being chased by a predator, recalling abusive treatment, or hunger. Any negative day-to-day experience could be their cause of a nightmare. 

Learn what it means and what you should do when your dog twitches in their sleep.

My Puppy Sleeps Too Much. Is This Normal?


In fact, more than half of their day should be spent snoozing, about 18-20 hours.

Dogs naturally spend most of their time sleeping, especially during puppyhood. This is acceptable, as long as they get enough exercise.

In this post, we talk about how to properly exercise your dog.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Relax! It’s normal and healthy for your dog to cry in their sleep. Sometimes, they even yelp and twitch. Other times, they howl!

Dreaming occurs during REM sleep, a deep sleep where the eyes move rapidly. You don’t have to wake your dog up, but if you do, just call their name gently.

Sometimes, dogs cry in their sleep because they need attention or feel pain. Keep an eye out on your dog for other symptoms of distress.

If your dog also twitches a lot in their sleep, it could be because of a dream or a seizure. Learn what it means when dogs twitch in their sleep