Dogs are great at reading our emotions. They also quickly learn the tricks we show them. The latest research conducted by experts from Hungary shows that our four-legged friends can also listen to us when they sleep.
A study conducted by ethologists from Hungarian revealed that the brains of dogs even in deep sleep “turn on” in response to voices.
“This discovery is important because it is the first evidence of complex auditory processing during sleep in dogs,” the researchers wrote in their article, which was published in early September in the journal Scientific Reports. The study was conducted on 13 dogs.
What did the research look like?
During the study, the dogs were connected to devices that measured their brain waves. Then their reaction to sounds made by dogs and people was checked. Experiments were conducted in situations in which the dogs were conscious, drowsy, or when they were allowed to fully relax and fall asleep.
Each sound was played at the same volume and lasted approximately one second. The dogs were allowed to squeal, howl, growl, cough, laugh, sigh and yawn.
The study showed that while sleeping, dogs were able to determine whether a given sound came from other animals or people, as well as whether the emotion expressed when making the sound was positive or neutral. This same ability has been demonstrated in primates, including humans, and also in mice. Mammals spend a lot of their time sleeping. The ability to process social cues, even in this state, likely played a significant role in their survival, experts say.
Dogs process emotions while they sleep
How much we understand during sleep depends both on the phase of sleep we are in and on the type of sound that reaches us.
Just like humans, dogs strengthen their memories and process emotions while they sleep. Their sleep has changed with their domestication, more like ours than that of other species. In old age, pets suffer from shallow and interrupted sleep, just like people suffering from dementia.
– Although further research is needed, these results are further evidence that the similarity between dog and human sleep behavior is high – said Huba Eleod, one of the study’s authors.
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