Can You Stop a Dog From Howling in His Sleep?

"Don't mind me, I'm just catching my z's."
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As a concerned owner, you might feel worried when you hear your poor pooch howling in his sleep. After all, nightmares are no walk in the park for humans, and that also goes for your canine pals. Dreams are a common part of the canine life, just as with people.

Dogs and Dreaming

If you hear your dog howling the night away, don't rule out the possibility of dreaming. Dogs indeed do dream. When it comes to sleeping, canines experience similar phases as to humans, only they go through them at a more rapid pace. Their most intense dreams typically happen during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which starts roughly 20 minutes after they initially shut their eyes. Strangely enough, tiny dogs tend to dream more often than their bigger counterparts. When the big guys do dream, though, their dreams usually are lengthier.


When your pooch is in the middle of a frightening or otherwise unpleasant dream, you might hear him loudly howl or even bark or growl. Other common indications of a dog who is wrapped up in a dream world are tail movement, jerky motions of the legs, fast breathing, chewing and quivering. All of these actions might point to a pooch who is currently experiencing some kind of emotion in a dream, whether apprehension or enthusiasm.

Waking Your Howling Dog Up

Avoid waking up your dreaming dog and allow him to continue with his sleep cycle if at all possible, although you might have no choice from time to time if he's keeping everyone in your household up all night. Dreaming isn't hazardous to canines, just like it isn't hazardous to people. The behavior, simply put, is no cause for alarm, so relax -- and allow your sleepy pet to get back to it, too.

Other Causes of Howling

Don't always assume that nighttime howling is a sign of a dog who is sound asleep. Your dog could also be awake and howling. Some common triggers for nighttime howling in canines include nervousness due to isolation and the desire for attention. In some cases, it can even be an indication of a health issue. If your dog howls a lot at night, check up on him to make sure that he's not suffering in pain or discomfort, whether due to sickness or a brand new wound. If the howling is from a medical problem, the veterinarian is calling your dog's name.

If the howling seems excessive, dreaming or otherwise, a vet appointment also is a good idea. Inordinate howling is often fueled by intense nervousness and frustration. If your pet is experiencing these types of problems, he might need the prompt assistance and guidance of a professional pet training expert.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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