Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Those mournful wails and yips let loose by our sleeping dogs tug on our heartstrings so hard that it can be impossible to resist waking our dreaming pets. The same goes for when their four legs get to moving and we wonder if they are happily bounding after squirrels or if something big and scary might be chasing them. Even the heavy-duty doggie snoring sometimes sounds like it can't be a good thing. But should we wake our dogs up from a dream?
The hardline answer is: Probably not. 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.
But...what if you just can't help yourself?
The aforementioned mournful wailing and heartstrings being tugged upon pretty much guarantee that we're going to awaken our pet anyway. At least I do—even though I know better—when my Wuppy sounds so sad and lonesome that tears spring to my eyes and I just want to hug his crying away. Which is exactly what not to do, at least not until your dog is fully awake.
No matter how loyal, well-trained and loving your pet is, awakening them by contact can get you snarled at or even bit. Remember that you are bringing your dog back from a dream state, where the dream is reality. One of our other dogs, Dusty, is a sweetheart, but it is extremely hard for him to assess his surroundings quickly if he is startled awake. He needs a minute to go from growling to his normal happy.
Use a Gentle Voice
Our natural instinct can be to wake our pet as quickly as possible, even sometimes by shouting their name, as we too are distressed for them. Taking that tone, however, can put your dog on the offensive. He will think something is wrong upon waking and go into protection mode.
Imagine an alarm clock that goes off sounding like the panicked voice of the person you love the most. That would be more than a little stressful to wake to. For these reasons, use a soft and loving tone to coax your dog out of a dream and into a safe environment.
Lay On the Love
Once your dog has successfully been retrieved from the Land of Nod is when you can finally soothe them by touch. Give comforting hugs, rub their head and give that favorite spot a quality petting. Talk to your dog and let them know everything is safe – basically everything comforting you would want after being abruptly woken up.
What sounds or movements does your pet make while dreaming? Can you resist the urge to wake them up?
Photo by Jason Empey
Read more articles by Tamara McRill