I never really thought about dogs having nightmares although I am very sure that they dream. Just like many other dog people I love to watch my sleeping dogs chase rabbits, run through fields and make funny noises while their paws and noses wiggle. Whenever I see them dream I make sure I’m very quiet while I observe this cuteness.
When Oona came into out lives, suddenly there was a lot of barking: at horses, reflections, water, a plastic bag,… everything she doesn’t know has to be chased away– but of course a plastic bag couldn’t care less about a wild barking dog.
With a lot of patience, praise and encouragement we helped Oona to face her fears together with us. She learned that horses don’t eat puppies, that water makes you wet but you can also play in it and that strange objects on the street can happen. Whenever possible we join her expedition to the big objects of terror and then she finds out rather quickly that there is no reason to panic.
What we did notice recently is that our nights are a lot more quiet and we’re not woken up by a panic based bark. When our neighbours pass by with dogs or horses or when we hear strange sounds from the woods, we considered it normal that she would react and then we just try to teach her that being quiet is ok too. After all, where we live it is a quiet place so every disturbance of the silence stand out. It was only in our studio where you can’t hear any sounds from outdoors, that I started to realize that she doesn’t always bark for something happening outside. I noticed her suddenly jumping up and barking glaringly when just before she was in a deep sleep. She looked at me like she didn’t realize where she was until I started talking to her. Then she was suddenly a happy pup again. Therefore I presume she has nightmares now and then. It wouldn’t be that strange considering her past (a life on the streets, dogcatchers,…). She didn’t get to know our world when she was a puppy like most dogs would do. The good thing is that she’s brave and positive. She recovers quickly when something happens and she loves to explore the world.
Recently our nights are also quiet and Oona only wakes us up when she has to go out urgently. Then she doesn’t bark but whines a bit- and she even know at which side of the bed she has the most chance of a quick response 🙂
Have you ever had the idea that your dog has nightmares?