Anyone who has ever had a dog has probably witnessed their dog having a nightmare--or wondered if it actually was a nightmare. Yes, dogs dream and therefore likely have nightmares--just like people. Well, not exactly like people. They're probably not trying to frantically dial a telephone or showing up at the dogpark in their underwear--but a nightmare nonetheless. Here are some ways to handle your dog's nightmares.
If you notice your dog dreaming and possibly having a nightmare, for instance twitching eyelids, paws flailing, yelping or whimpering, it's probably best to let him continue to sleep--since deep rest is important--plus, waking him may cause confusion.
Try calling out your dog's name if you're worried that it's a seizure or your dog seems too distressed. It's best not to touch a sleeping dog since they may snap or bite as a reflex. If it's a seizure, you will probably be able to tell anyway. And if not, you'll know when you try to wake your dog. You'll be able to wake her if it's a dream, but not if it's a seizure.
If your dog's sleeping behavior seems unusual and continues that way, keep track of information such as what time it happened, what your dog ate and how long before going to sleep, and what noises, if any, were going on in the house. This information may be valuable to a vet in determining the cause.
As long as Rover doesn't sleepwalk and use your shoe as a potty--or take the car out for a joyride--it's normally best to let sleeping dogs lie.
Tips & Warnings
There are mild tranquilizers and anti-anxiety remedies such as the homeopathic Rescue Remedy that may be helpful for nightmares, but always check with a vet first.
Never administer any type of medication to a dog that hasn't been first examined by a vet