In fact, our furry friends are capable of hearing sounds at a much higher frequency than we can — while we can hear sounds up to around 23,000 Hertz (Hz), our furry friends can detect sounds at a frequency of 45,000Hz.
Why are dogs such grrr-eat listeners? Keep reading to find out.
Signs Your Dog has Heard a High-Frequency Sound
In many cases, it's pretty easy to tell when your dog has detected a noise outside your hearing range. The first sign you notice may be a raising of the ears, and the tilting of those ears as your dog narrows in on the source of the sound.
What they do next could vary depending on your dog's mood and the nature of the sound they've just heard. For example, they may dismiss the noise as nothing worth investigating, raising an eyebrow, letting out a sigh and then resuming their lazing around. However, if it's intriguing or potentially threatening, your pooch might go on high alert.
They could raise their head, turn to follow the source of the sound, and even move closer to investigate. They might bark, growl, or even whimper, and their tail could start wagging.
- Head tilting
- Wag tail
- Raise ears
- Head turning
- Tail up
- Ears up
- Raising their head
- Moving to follow the source of the sound
- Sniffing the air
- Tilting ears
- Pawing at ears
History of Dogs Hearing High Frequencies
But what about the ability to hear at high frequencies? Why did dogs evolve to hear at higher frequencies than we do? In a nutshell, they've adapted in this way to be able to locate where a sound is coming from.
They do this using a process known as 'binaural spectral-difference cueing', which basically allows them to compare the frequency of a sound as it arrives in each separate ear. The ear on the side of the head farthest away from the sound effectively falls in the head's 'shadow', so some of the frequencies are absorbed, meaning that the ability to hear a higher upper frequency limit is essential to be able to identify where a sound is coming from.
That said, while dogs can hear much higher frequencies than us, they've got nothing on bats and whales, which are capable of detecting much higher frequencies.
The Science of Dog Hearing
Dogs have 18 muscles in their ears which allow them to wiggle, rotate, and tilt their ears to the best angle for focusing on a sound. By way of comparison, human ears only have six muscles, not to mention a far more limited range of movement than that enjoyed by our furry friends, while dogs have substantially longer ear canals.
As a result, our canine pals can detect sounds up to around 45,000Hz, while the average human ear tops out at 23,000Hz. It's a sizable difference, and explains why your pooch can often detect sounds you simply can't. However, humans are slightly better at picking up sounds at the lower end of the spectrum, capable of picking up 20Hz sounds as opposed to a dog's bottom limit of 40Hz.
Training Your Dog to Listen to You
To help ensure that your dog always listens to you, even when they've just detected a new and interesting sound from somewhere else, it's important to concentrate on teaching your dog that there are plenty of benefits that come with listening to what you have to say.
By rewarding your furry friend with a tasty treat when they give you their full attention, and when they respond to your commands accordingly, they'll soon come to associate prioritizing you above all else with good things. If your pet isn't particularly food-oriented, reward them with their favorite toy or heaps of praise instead.
Patience is the key to success, so make sure you never lose your temper and always try to maintain a consistent approach. If you start training your puppy to focus on you from a young age, you'll give them the best chance of being able to ignore any high-frequency distractions and turn their ears in your direction.
How to React When Your Dog Hears Something You Don't:
Monitor them. Keep a close eye on your dog for any signs that the sound could be causing them pain or discomfort.
Investigate. Look in the direction your dog is focusing on to try to determine the source of the sound.
Use training tools. There are special dog training whistles designed to tap into your dog's ability to hear high-frequency sounds.