Can Dogs Feel Curiosity?

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Introduction

Dogs are curious creatures by nature and that curiosity can get your pooch into trouble from time to time - or all of the time! As a dog owner, you have likely experienced your dog's curious nature first hand, especially when they were a puppy. There are so many sights, sounds, and smell to explore. 

Dogs can be curious about anything, from why your chip bag makes such a loud and crunchy noise to wondering how delicious those rabbit turds in the backyard are. But what makes dogs so curious? Is it in their DNA and personality, is it biological, or is it something else? We will explore these questions below!

Signs of a Dog Who is Curious About Something

It is very easy to tell if your dog is curious about something. When they are not curious or something does not catch their attention, they will just simply ignore it or act as if they are not interested in whatever is happening. However, if they are curious about something, you can look out for some of the following signs. 

Curious dogs often lead with their noses. Say your dog finds a food wrapper that has been left on the sidewalk and it is flapping around in the wind. They will likely lead with their nose first and go over to the wrapper and begin sniffing and analyzing the smells intently. 

Hearing also plays a part as the sounds of the crunchy wrapper blowing in the wind will sound interesting to them. Eventually, your dog will be curious about how this wrapper tastes because they likely know that there was once food inside. 

Many dogs will also stare at something very intently if they are curious about it. They will look alert and their ears and tail will be upright, they may also look as if they are hunting or stalking the curious object, or they may even bark or growl at the object if they are fearful. 

Body Language

These are some signs you may notice if your dog is curious about something:
  • Growling
  • Staring
  • Alert
  • Barking
  • Sniffing
  • Stalking
  • Tail up
  • Ears up

Other Signs

Here are some other signs you may notice if your dog is curious about something:
  • Tasting and Licking the Object
  • Closely Listening
  • Pawing at the Object

History of Curios Dogs

Dogs have always been curious creatures. Curiosity is something that many animals on Earth have and it drives a large portion of animal behavior whether in a dog, a human, or a cat. We can assume that curiosity in dogs dates all the way back to before domestication when we look at wild dogs and wolves. 

Animals, like dogs and wolves, react to movement, sound, and smell. When they are near something that catches their attention they are likely to have three potential response to the object in question - fight, flight, or curiosity. 

In the wild, it was important for a dog to distinguish between potential threats and what was not going to actually harm them. A quick reaction and instinct were needed in these types of situations. If they deemed something threatening, they would have to decide to either stay and fight or flee from the situation. However, if something was determined to not be a threat, curiosity would drive the dog's reaction. 

Although your dog still has their fight or flight response, it is much more likely your dog's curiosity will be there first response to a new situation or if they find something that intrigues them. 

Science Behind Dog Curiosity

Curiosity, it's believed, is intertwined with a dog's motor programming. This means that nature is responsible for integrating curiosity deeply into their DNA and biology. These feelings of curiosity are thought to be a combination of a dog's fine-tuned sense of smell, sight, and hearing.

Dogs can sense things that we as humans cannot, which allows them to experience the world in a much different and more intense way. Since everyday objects can be much more interesting to them, their curiosity plays a much bigger role in their life. A dog has a strong biological pull to explore and gather information about the world around them. If they experience something different and new, they are going to use their senses to try and figure out what it is.

Training for Dogs Who are Too Curious

You cannot train your dog to not be curious about the world around them. Being curious is something that is in your dog's DNA and it is part of what makes them so special. However, when you have a particularly over-curious or overly excitable dog in most situations, this can become a behavioral issue that is challenging to control. Perhaps your dog sniffs excessively on walks or tries to lick and go after all of the trash on the ground. Or maybe your dog has some boundary issues when someone comes over to your home and all they want to do is lick and sniff your company. 

Luckily, there are a few, simple training tricks you can use to make sure your dog's excitement and curiosity are controllable. The first thing you can do is make sure you don't allow your dog to get too excited over something. If you have a guest come over to your house, tell the guest to ignore the dog's sniffing or licking and they will likely stop this behavior much sooner than if the person was feeding into the dog's excitement and curiosity. 

It is also a good idea to train your dog to listen to the "leave it" command. If your dog has a strong understanding of "leave it," as soon as you tell your dog to leave something it should break their interest and curiosity with the object or person so you can move along quickly. 

This is particularly helpful if you are out on a walk or in a new environment and your dog is extremely curious about the smells, sights, and sounds around them. In these situations, many things are going to peak their attention and curiosity, even things that may be dangerous to them, so your dog needs to know when they need to leave something alone.  

How to React if Your Dog is Curious About Something:

  • Let them explore within reason.
  • Keep a close eye on them.

Safety Tips for a Overly Curious Dog:

  • Keep control over your dog.
  • Don't let them become too excited.
  • Make sure they have boundaries.
  • Don't let them lick anything dangerous.