Dogs dream. They have to.
I know this because I’ve seen our dog move, whine, yelp, growl, and bark in his sleep. He wiggles his paws as if he’s running. He twitches his nose as if he’s preparing to bare his teeth at some imaginary foe. My favorite is when he’s dead asleep and not moving except for his tail, which is FWAP-FWAP-FWAPing furiously.
But: do they understand the difference between dreams and real life? As humans, we’re able to wake up and process a dream as something that happened in our mind, not out here in the real world.
When you dream about your significant other cheating on you, or someone you love dying, the pain, despair, and anger is real. Hell, the cheating and death are pretty damn real too, while you’re in the midst of it. Sometimes, after waking up, those emotions linger for hours, even after you’ve fully accepted that nothing actually happened.
We learn this at a young age, and accept it. We learn that it’s not real. We learn the difference between reality and dreams.
But try as I might, I can’t imagine how dogs could possibly understand the difference, which leads me to think that maybe – just maybe – dogs truly believe they live in two distinct worlds, each one as real as the other.
Wouldn’t that be something?