Why Is My Dog Running In Sleep

why do dogs run in their sleep - one observation that dogs run for different reasons on instinct

Watching a dog run while asleep can be compared to witnessing individuals sleepwalking or talking in their sleep. This entertaining and often noticed behavior indicates that your dog is indeed experiencing dreams. Usually, dogs are seen to bark, twitch, kick, and move their ears instead of actually running while they dream.

However, a sleep running dog is not always dreaming. There are innumerable signals the brain does which manifest as movements during their downtime. Here are more reasons why your pooch is running during sleep time and what you can do to help.

3 Reasons Why Your Dog May Be Running In His Sleep

Sleeping patterns in dogs vary based on their age, size, breed, and how exhausted they are. Puppies need more rest as it helps their organ development and growth, whereas the senior dogs need time to catch their breath. Larger dogs may be sleeping more to negate the large amount of energy they spend, unlike their smaller counterparts.

All things considered, here are 3 major reasons why a sleeping dog runs:

1. Your Dog May Be Dreaming

Humans and dogs are genetically closely related. Our bodily functionality during the day also resembles each other by a great deal, so it no surprise that our sleep cycles are similar too. A sleep cycle consists of different stages characterized by different brain waves. Two of the deepest and most crucial stages are the REM stage and the slow-wave stage (SWS).

For humans, REM sleep comprises 25% of the entire duration of sleep while it is 10% for dogs. Most of the vivid dreams are seen during this stage, making it perfectly normal for your dog to twitch and kick.

The body is usually partially paralyzed during REM sleep which prevents drastic movements during sleep. Dreaming dogs may imitate a physical activity, sniffle, or shiver in their REM sleep. [1] This can vary depending on the subject of their dream.

Sleeping dogs may also come across nightmares and their responses differ accordingly. Their eyelids may open, showing blank pupils or they might whimper. You should devote more time and attention to your pet to keep the nightmares at bay.

2. Your Dog May Be Exercising

The extent of physical exertion the dog engages in during the day determines the quality of their sleep. Exercise affects doggie dreams as well. A minimum of 30-45 minutes of activity keeps their bodies and minds toned and sharp. A dog that does not get the desired amount of exercise is sure to run in its sleep.

Certain breeds that require heavy activity during the day also become dogs running in their sleep without sufficient exercise. Not working out enough makes them more tired than usual and makes them nap more.

3. Your Dog May Be Having Seizures

Dog running in sleep may be because of a seizure and this can harm your pet if left unchecked. Behavior during dreams is loose and comfortable whereas, during a seizure, the movements are tight and rigid. Other seizure symptoms include vomiting, defecating, and urinating.

Another behavior exhibited during seizing includes keeping their eyes open with a blank look. A seizure can also be identified with the screams, pain, and disorientation. If your dog is prone to seizing, note the signs and duration to consult with a vet later.

If your dogs have regular episodes of seizures, invest in a soft dog bed to avoid head injury. If you feel the urge to wake your dog, do it from a distance and try not to startle them when they come nearby.

reasons for why dog runs in sleep - for example, dogs in the dream may be exercising or having an episode

What Can You Do About Dogs Running In Sleep?

Dog sleep patterns are different from human patterns. So, when you think about ‘why do dogs run in their sleep,’ the fact is that most development of the body and mind occurs during the REM stage.

Let sleeping dogs lie until they feel rested. A dog dream may involve chasing behind things and being threatened by something, while it is not pleasant always, let the dogs dream even if you see the dog running in sleep.

While waking them is not necessary, calling out to awaken them is the best way to proceed. Instead of shaking them, call their name from a distance so that they don’t attack you under distress and confusion.

Make sure that you know the difference between a sleeping dog running, and having a seizure. Waking up a dog running in their sleep is easier than from seizures. It is always better to ride it out.

Avoid interruptions in your pet’s sleep by having them sleep in a location away from noisy children and unfavorable weather conditions. Use a pet-friendly dog bed for their better health. You can ensure that your dogs have a pleasant dream every night by being more attentive and loving.

dog dreaming running - what to do about sleep dog running if it is a problem

Frequently Asked Questions

What do dogs dream about when they sleep?

Dogs may dream about physical activities they engaged in during the day, chasing something or being chased by someone. These dreams may lead to movements during sleep. Nothing else of importance can be said about the subject of your dog’s dreams but they can be made pleasant by making sure your dogs get all the needed attention.

Is it safe to wake a dog dreaming?

It would be better to let your dog go through their entire sleep cycle without interruptions. If the sleep time behavior like barking and kicking gets too disruptive, call their name to wake them up. Avoid touching them to wake them up because your pet might bite you in confusion.

Why does my dog kick when sleeping?

Your dog might be dreaming in their sleep or they might be seizing. Like sleepwalking humans. it is completely normal for dogs to physically act out according to their dream. Twitching of the tail, barking, and sniffling are other activities that accompany kicking. Be sure to know how to distinguish between patterns of seizures and dreams if you see your dog running in his sleep.


The two major answers to the question of why do dogs run in their sleep are – dog dreams and seizures. Knowing how to differentiate between these will help when your dog sleep running interrupts your night.

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