Asleep – Why is it that some dogs snap when touched?


To quote ‘When your dog is lying quietly and breathing deeply and rhythmically during sleep, he or she is likely experiencing slow wave sleep, called the SWS phase. During this phase, blood pressure and body temperature drop, as does heart rate. Your dog will be relatively easy to awaken during the SWS phase.

When the dog passes into a deeper sleep phase, called the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) phase, he or she will begin dreaming.

Dogs cycle between SWS and REM phases throughout the time they are asleep, ultimately spending only about 10% of the time in REM sleep. Puppies spend a much larger proportion of time in REM sleep, probably because they need to process new information in such huge quantities.

Just like humans, dogs who are in REM sleep are hardest to awaken, and may be grouchy when they are disturbed. This has important implications if you have children who may try to interact with the dog while he or she is sleeping.

A dog awakened from REM sleep may be more likely to bite than at any other time’.

We can’t blame a dog for biting when it’s an automatic response can we, so we should ‘let sleeping dogs lie’.

Here is the story of a little dog I went to who reacts very badly if disturbed whilst alseep.

Theo Stewart, The Dog Lady

Go to the main website:


About Theo Stewart

I am a dog Behaviourist C.C.B (Certified Canine Behaviourist) INTODogs). I have helped over 3000 dog owners over eighteen years. In addition to online consultations all over the world, I cover Beds, Herts, Cambs and Bucks for home visits. A 'Victoria Stilwell' Positively Dog Trainer (VSPDT) and a full member of the IMDT. Graduate ISCP, International School for Canine Practitioners. My main site:
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