Dogs (Canis familiaris) are excellent models of human behavior as during domestication they have adapted to the same environment as humans. There have been many comparative studies on dog behavior; however, several easily measurable and analyzable psychophysiological variables that are widely used in humans are still largely unexplored in dogs. One such measure is rapid eye movement density (REMD) during REM sleep. The aim of this study was to test the viability of measuring REMD in dogs and to explore the relationship between the REMD and different variables (sex, age, body size, and REM sleep duration). Fifty family dogs of different breeds and ages (from 6 months to 15 years old) participated in a 3-h non-invasive polysomnography recording, and the data for 31 of them could be analyzed. The signal of the electro-oculogram (EOG) was used to detect the rapid eye movements during REM sleep, and REMD was calculated based on these data. The duration of REM sleep had a quadratic effect on REMD. Subjects' REMD increased with age, but only in male dogs with short REM sleep duration. Furthermore, in the case of dogs with short REM sleep, the interaction of body mass and REM sleep duration had a significant effect on REMD. No such effects were found in dogs with long REM duration. These results suggest that relationships may exist between REMD and several different variables.
Keywords: Dogs; REM sleep; REMD; Rapid eye movement density.