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Why do dogs shake when they sleep?

Updated on July 4, 2009

Dogs are much loved pets. A doting owner would provide everything the pet needs and more. The pet would be taken anywhere the master goes. Because these lucky animals are often seen sharing the master’s bed it would not be uncommon for the owner to observe how the pet sleeps. If people talk and walk in their sleep, our furry friends shake when Mr. Sandman takes them on an all night (or day) journey.

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A sleeping dog

Dogs are great sleepers. Let sleeping dogs lie may be a cliché but really, it would not do to disturb the sleep of our canine friends. It is said that dogs and humans have very similar genetics.  We dream when we sleep. Are you aware that your pet relieves its experiences when it sleeps? Yes, dogs dream too. Similar to humans, dogs can have happy and bad dreams. A dog that is seen batting or snapping its teeth may be dreaming of hunting butterflies, a dog with twitching legs may be dreaming of chasing a squirrel. And one that shakes and cries in its sleep may be having a bad dream like being left alone and parted from is human family. A dream that can make the dog shake is as simple as a toy being taken away.

A dog’s brain

Studies have been conducted on the workings of a dog’s brain time and time again.  But up to this very moment no definitive reason why dogs shake in their sleep was concluded. It was believed though that a dog that is shaking in its sleep may be relieving a bad experience or the hardship it has gone through. In humans, this will constitute a nightmare. This situation is most common in maltreated dogs that have had a traumatic experience.

Discomfort and sickness

A dog that is shaking while sleeping may be uncomfortable. Puppies that have crawled away from the warmth of the mother may shake in their sleep because of cold. It is also possible that the shaking is a symptom of an underlying illness.

Helping the pet

What can you do to help the pet? Owners would certainly be concerned if the pet that is calmly sleeping would suddenly shake. If the person sleeping beside you suddenly shakes, the first thing you would do is too wake him/her up. Sleeping dogs that shake may not need waking up as in most cases they will snap out of the bad dream. The dog would stop shaking in no time. It may help if you talk calmly to the dog and rub its belly gently. Your voice and presence will reassure and calm the pet.

dog shaking in sleep

my dog shaking in his sleep

Sleeping dog and his restless leg


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      My dog sadie you's to sleep in my bed thn she hurt her eye thn she hate sleeping in my bed thn 6 mouths later she back in my bed be cos it's cold she you's to sleep in her bed now she don't

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      If my dog shakes in his sleep does it mean he's having a bas dream? He's never ever had seizures & he doesn't have that or illnesses

    • profile image

      Fenton tiger  

      7 years ago

      It looks like it

      was swimmmming


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