Why Do Dogs Twitch When They are Sleeping?

Why Do Dogs Twitch When They are Sleeping?

Health & Safety

Dogs can be really entertaining characters to have around and will keep owners amused and busy for hours on end. There's nothing nicer than coming home from a long walk and seeing an exhausted pooch lie flat out on the floor and fall fast asleep because they are physically and mentally exhausted. Even when they are snoozing, our four-legged furry friends can bring a smile to your face with their sleeping antics. This typically includes twitching, singing and making odd little noises! So why do dogs twitch and run on the spot when they are asleep? Read on and find out the many reasons our pooches do this when they slumber.

Doggy Dream Patterns

Dogs dream just like we do and they go through the same three sleep stages that humans go through which are non-rapid eye movement (NREM), rapid eye movement (REM) and lastly short-wave sleep (SWS). When dogs reach the last stage, they will breath more heavily and experts in animal behaviour theorize that it's during the REM stage of their sleep pattern that they act out their dreams. This involves twitching or moving their legs and paws as if they were chasing and hunting down their prey!

Dogs that Sleep Curled up Move Less

Many animal behaviourists also believe that when a dog sleeps curled up, they are, in fact, less relaxed and therefore far less likely to make all these movements that can bring a smile to their owners faces. One thing they have noticed is that young puppies and older dogs move much more when they are asleep than adult dogs. People who let their pets sleep on their beds with them, may even be woken up by the sudden movements their pets make during the night which could become a problem – especially if their dog makes lots of jerky movements in their sleep.

No Need to Worry

Most dog owners find it extremely amusing when they witness their pets running on the spot when they are lying down or twitching in what seems to be an uncontrollable manner when they are taking a snooze. It is perfectly natural for dogs to do this so there's no need to go into a panic. However, if you are worried, the best thing to do is gently call out your pet's name so they wake up slowly.

The thing to bear in mind, is that just like us, dogs don't like to be "rudely awakened" so it's never a good idea to put your hand on them to wake them up – you might shock them which could result in a little nip from your pet. Another adage which is well worth taking on board is the one about "letting sleeping dogs lie"!

However, some dogs just like people may have a nightmare from time to time which means they wake up in a frightened state of mind. This is when it's really important to talk to your pet and to offer them all the reassurance they need until they are fully awake and consciously aware of their surroundings again.

Another reason why dogs may twitch when they are asleep is when there is a drop in temperature. A cold dog will twitch because it's their body's way of trying to keep warmer. If you notice the temperature in a room your pet sleeps in is a little too cold, it's worth turning the heating up a little so they are more comfortable.

Should You be Worried?

It's really important to recognise the difference between your pet having a dream and just twitching as well as making little noises to when they might be experiencing some sort of seizure. When a dog is simply dreaming, they will typically make a few jerky movements but will normally fall quietly back to sleep again. You should call out your pet's name so they wake up gently and recognise their surroundings.

However, if they are experiencing a seizure, you will notice that your pet's body goes still even rigid and they will start to tremble with their muscles locking up. They will lose consciousness and may even start to pant a lot. Lastly, when you call out their names they won't respond to you.

What To Do if Your Think Your Dog has a Seizure

If you think your dog is having a seizure which should only last a few minutes, you must not panic because your pet will pick up on your anxiety and this could make matters worse. You have to remain calm and if there are any items which could injure your pet, you have to remove them from the area. This means gently moving your pet to somewhere safe if necessary. You must call the vet to make an appointment as soon as you can because it is far better to be safe than sorry. If the vet says all is okay then at least you have the peace of mind that your dog is going to be alright. If on the other hand, the seizure is much more serious then your pet is in the right place to get the proper treatment.


When dogs are asleep they can make all sorts of funny twitching movements as well as a few amusing little sounds which can bring a smile to their owner's faces. Our canine companions are great fun to have around and always offer their owners the perfect excuse to get out and about. Playing interactive games with a dog is a great way of forming a really strong bond with them and this in turn keeps them stimulated. This type of game and lots of regular exercise helps tire them out so when they get home they stretch out and have snooze, happy, exhausted and content in their own dream world!

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