If you have a dog, you know that they can hear pretty-darn well. They always seem to just pop up right in front of you every time you open a bag of chips, take out their food bowl, or get their leash ready for a walk. It's like they can hear through walls, doors, and anything in their way, so long as food or pet-pets are involved!
But many owners wonder, how well can our dogs really hear? We know it's better than our hearing, but how much better is it? Turns out that dogs have a super acute sense of hearing - their hearing range in regards to sounds is about 2 times the size of ours, and as for range, they can hear more than 4 times farther than we can! So next time you want to eat alone in peace, keep in mind that you may need to not only leave the room, but maybe even the house, unless you want a furry friend to split it with!
Signs Your Dog Can Hear Well
Sometimes, you may look at your dog and wonder what on earth they're doing. Maybe they're standing still, looking off in a direction, or maybe even barking at something. It may seem like they're doing all of this stuff at nothing, but because our woofer's hearing is so much better than ours, it may just be that they're listening to something that we can't hear!
Dogs that are listening to something or hearing a sound that maybe you haven't picked up on yet will perk their ears forward, and may even tilt or cock their head to the side. This is a way for your dog to get a better listen, as well as a way for them to try to figure out where exactly that noise is coming from. Depending on the breed of dog and how flexible their ears are, they may even swivel them around as a way to better know what is causing the sound that they hear.
Another trait that woofers exhibit when they're trying to get a handle on something that they're hearing is alertness. Alert woofers that are checking things out or have detected something of interest or something unknown are probably going to stand pretty still. Again, their ears will be forward and may even be twitching if they're trying to hear a sound. Their eyes will be relatively wide, and in comparison, their mouth will probably be closed.
Depending on whether or not your pupper associates the noise with a threat, your dog's tail may either be wagging slowly, or perhaps be horizontal or even stiff. If they think that the sound is coming from something that will either threaten them or you, they may bark, growl, and show their teeth. Certain breeds have raised hackles or hairs when they're feeling aggressive or protective as well.
The History Behind Hearing in Doggos
The reason our dogs have such good hearing is due to evolution. Dogs evolved from wolves thousands of years ago. And before doggos had humans to rely on for food, their wolfy ancestors had to track down and hunt food sources on their own in the wild. These food sources were things like mice, deer, and other relatively quiet animals.
As a result, wolves' hearing had to evolve so that they would be able to hear their prey and consequentially have a meal for the day. Essentially, "being able to hear their prey from a considerable distance enabled the wolves to be better hunters. Scientists believe that dogs have lost some of their hearing ability as they have evolved as compared to their ancient ancestors." However, despite this loss in comparison to wolves, your pooch at home still has pretty great hearing!
The Science Behind a Dog's Hearing
There are a ton of reasons scientists point to in regards to why a dog's hearing is better than ours. For one thing, human ears usually lay flat against their heads, whereas dog's ears are usually on top of their head, are much larger, and sometimes stick straight up. As a result, they have more general area by which to hear sounds with!
Relatedly, dogs have more muscles in their ears than we do. They can wiggle their ears way more than we can, and as a result, can "rotate them, tilt them, and raise or lower them." In that way, dog ears are like "antennae or radar for honing in on sounds."
Additionally, the range in frequency that a pupper can hear is greater than ours as well. "Dogs hear a frequency range of 40 to 60,000 Hz while human range is between 20 and 20,000 Hz." That basically means that dogs can hear sounds that our ears simply aren't capable of hearing.
Training Your Dog to Hear Better
There's nothing you can really do to train your dog to hear better! Like humans, dogs are born with the sense of hearing that they're going to have, and there aren't really tricks you can do to make your dog hear better. There are, however, things you can do to alter your dog's response to certain sounds.
For example, many dogs out there are afraid of the sounds of vacuum cleaners. They may bark, growl, or even attack the "machine" that makes such a loud noise. If your dog reacts poorly to a certain sound, try exposing them to it more often in a safe environment. Put things that make sounds they don't like out in the open, so they can sniff and explore them at their own pace.
Eventually, you can start making the sound too, but just don't overdo it! Your dog will get used to the noise's presence, as well as what causes it. Just make sure you're patient! Your dog is going to need some time to get used to things that freak them out, just like people, so do it in stages, and your pupper will eventually be fine.
Written by Katherine McCormick
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 04/13/2018, edited: 04/06/2020