7 Things You Didn’t Know Your Dog Can Sense

Do dogs really have a sixth sense to pick up your emotions and the changes in the environment around them? If you are a dog owner, you would probably say yes.

With over 300 million smell receptors on the surface area of their nose, dogs are about 1,000 to 10,000 times keener to smell than we are. Their ears are also designed to pick up a higher frequency of soundwaves, allowing them to hear sounds four times further away than the human ear can. On top of that, a dog’s field of vision is much wider than ours. They can see objects at a greater distance even with lower visibility to humans.

That said, it is for sure that our four-legged pal can definitely smell what we can’t smell, hear what we can’t hear, and see what we might not be able to see. (How lame we are as human!) With these incredible abilities, your dog can sense things that even before you are aware of them. Read on to find out 7 things you didn’t know your dog can sense.

1. Your emotions

Do you know dog is the only creature in the animal kingdom that can “read” human facial expressions?

Previous studies have already shown that dogs can combine vocal and facial cues from humans to sense our emotions and react accordingly. And they are able to easily perceive both the positive and negative emotions of humans. 

What kind of emotions can a dog sense?

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. But I am sure every dog is different and some dogs are better at picking up their owners’ emotions than others.

For the most part, dogs are able to sense our emotions through the changes in hormone levels in our body, our facial expressions, and body language.

Here are the most common emotions dog can sense from humans:

Happiness –  When you are in high spirit, you show it on your face and your tone of voice. And your body will release more hormones oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine. Dogs are able to pick up these cues when you feel happy.

Sadness – Have you ever had that moment where you’re about to cry – but suddenly your dog comes over and starts cuddling up next to you? They do this because they can sense your change of tone and body language when you are feeling sad. 

Stress/Worry – When you are under stress, the level of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol will increase inside your body and emits through your breaths or sweat. Dogs can of course smell the surge of these hormones created by stress. 

Fear – When we get scared, we tend to sweat more. Our bodies also produce more stress-related hormones. Dogs can sense our fear by combining our change of smell with cues from our body language such as stiff shoulders or shaking legs.

Anger – This one needs no science. Almost every dog owner can tell you their dog will show droopy ears or look away when you discover that they have done something wrong, such as chewing up your new cell phone, your underwear or even a wall.

How could dogs help to soothe people’s emotions?

Research has shown therapy dogs can reduce stress and provide a sense of connection in difficult situations.

In fact, therapy dogs were used as a way to provide comfort and support for students returning to school after the school shootings in Florida in 2018.

2. Human’s Menstruation

Have you ever been embarrassed by a dog that greets you by sniffing your private parts during those “special” days? 

With their keen sense of smell, most dogs are able to detect human menstruation and other changes by both odor and hormonal levels.

Of course, they don’t actually have any idea of what’s happening in your body. But they certainly know something is going on.

How do dogs act when they sense your menstruation?

Large to medium-sized dogs are more likely to be showing interest in sniffing the crotch of a menstruating woman with their height.

Small dogs, on the other hand, may find it harder to reach that level.

What should you do when your dog is a crotch sniffer?

To minimize the irritation, you may train your dog to sit or lay down with a treat when he/she try to approach your or other people.

Also, be sure to dispose of your tampon properly – do not let it sit in an unsecured trash can that can be easily tipped over by your dog.

They’re very attracted to that scent, and it’s could cause a fatal blockage if your dog swallows a tampon.

3. Human’s pregnancy

When a woman is pregnant, the alteration in hormones in her body is likely to affect their body scent. Most dogs can detect such change in a pregnant person even before they do.

How do dogs act when they sense pregnant owners?

Your dogs may become more protective of you when they sense that you are pregnant. If someone or something is getting too close, he’d bark to drive that away and make sure you are safe.

What should you do when a dog noticed you are pregnant?

Dogs are super sensitive to any change in their home. Experts recommend preparing your dog before the baby arrives.

Right from the beginning, you should teach your dog to be gentle around a baby. Always supervise your dog when he/she is with your infant or child.

4. Cancer

According to Medical News Today, dogs are capable of sniffing out certain diseases, including breast cancer, bladder cancer and prostate cancer. 

Cancer cells leave a specific odor in a person’s body, and dogs can detect these signatures with their sensitive sense of smell up to an accuracy of 99%. 

Watch this video to learn more about the ability of dogs to detect cancer and other diseases like diabetics, migraine, malaria, and Parkinson’s disease :

How does a dog act when they sense cancer?

Linda Munkley, 65, started checking for breast lumps after noticing her two German shepherds behaving strangely for about two months  –  jumping up and began intensely sniffing and headbutting her chest area. 

“I went to the doctors to have it examined and so they analyzed it and carried out a mammogram and then confirmed to me that it was a fast-growing form of breast cancer…” she said.

Watch this video of Linda telling the story herself:

Linda has now undergone successful treatment to get rid of her cancer. She says that her dogs stopped their behavior after her third chemotherapy session. (Source: Dog Lover Says Her Two German Shepherds Detected Her Breast Cancer)

5. Coronavirus

In Finland’s Helsinki-Vantaa airport, trained dogs are already deployed to sense the coronavirus. This includes Kössi, a rescue dog from Spain.

“They are very good (at it). We come close to 100 percent sensitivity…what we’ve seen in our research is that the dogs will find (the disease) five days before they (patients) get any clinical symptoms,” said Anna Hielm-Bjorkman, a professor at the University of Helsinki specialized in clinical research for companion animals.

How do dogs act when they sense the Coronavirus?

In the canine coronavirus test, a passenger swipes their neck with a gauze, places it in a can which is then handed over to another room for the trained dogs to sniff. 

If the dogs sense a positive result, they will scratch a paw, laying down, bark or otherwise making their conclusion known.

Watch this video if you want to see it in action:

Can all dogs sense Coronavirus?

“Certain breeds and individuals are much more trainable. And that’s really important, it’s not just about the dog’s ability to detect the smell, we have to be able to train these dogs and they have to be happy to work with their sense of smell,” according to a veterinary surgeon.

The breeds commonly seen as fit for scent detection work include German Shepherds, labradors, poodles, and spaniels, partly because they have a longer muzzle that gives them a better sense of smell.

These are also working dogs that are highly trainable and really happy to work with humans.

6. Natural disasters

Can dogs really sense natural disaster is coming? Their acute sense of sniffing and hearing and seeing do allow them to pick up the subtle changes in the environment, which may signals that something big is coming.

Although they may not fully understand what is about to happen. But their natural instincts will tell you something is going on. 

Can dogs sense thunderstorms?

Dogs can pick up on a barometric pressure drop and the electrical signals that start to swirl before a thunderstorm even miles away. But some dogs may bark erratically to warn their pack instead. Others may like to cuddle up on their owner’s lap. 

If your dogs will pace and move restlessly around a room. If this is the case, check the forecast.

Can dogs sense earthquakes?

Many dog owners will tell you that their pups show unusual behavior in the moments before an earthquake. In 1975, only a few hours before a 7.3 magnitude earthquake that destroys ninety percent of the Chinese city of Haicheng, the anxious behavior of dogs and other animals was reported.

And it’s believed that this is because dogs can hear the early warning signs—the seismic activity such as subtle shifts and scraping of tectonic plates the precede the actual earthquake. 

How do dogs act when they sense danger?

Your dog will act in an unusual way when sensing danger is coming. Persistent barking will most likely be the most prominent signal. They may also be running like crazy, panting, whining, or jumping in a peculiar way.

7. The supernatural

A dog’s field of vision is much wider than ours; they can see objects at a greater distance, and their ability to see in twilight, dusk, and dawn is far superior to ours, making it possible to pick up certain movements that are undetectable to the human eye. “It could be absolutely accurate that the dog is picking up on something we may not be able to see. (Source: Can Dogs See Ghosts? – AKC)

In her book “Tails of the Afterlife,” Peggy Schmidt reports multiple instances of unexplainable actions by dogs who apparently interact with something or someone, unseen.

For instance, she writes about a woman named Del Johnsen who left seven dogs and six cats when she passed away. Numerous witnesses believe she still visits her pets daily, and report seeing the animals suddenly gather in one spot, cats arching their backs and purring, dogs flopping over for a belly rub, wriggling in enjoyment, all of them sitting at attention and staring into the air before resuming their own activities. 

How do dogs act when they sense the “unseen”?

Your dog may stand in the corner, barking at nothing visible. Is it really some form of spiritual, energy, or entity?

You can decide for yourself.

There are many videos on Youtube on this topic, here’s one of the most creepy ones that gives me goosebumps while watching it:

While there is no scientific backing of a dog’s ability to see the supernatural, the answer depends upon your own perception.

“When someone is inclined to believe in the paranormal, some dogs may exhibit behaviors that make it look like they are perhaps sensing an apparition is nearby,” says Dr. Mary Burch, director of the AKC Family Dog Program and a certified animal behaviorist.

Final thoughts

Apart from keeping us good companies and busy (for cleaning up their mess), they can give comfort to our emotions and protect us from danger even before it happens – with their incredible senses.

And if dogs could talk, they would probably sound like a wise prophet.

If you want to know more about their body language and learn how to speak dog, you can check out this book by