Can Dogs Hear Sounds that Humans Cannot?

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The precious pooches of the world steal our hearts with their puppy-dog eyes and ability to cuddle. Dogs truly are our best friends. They understand us, comfort us, and celebrate with us according to our state of mind. 

Sometimes it seems that dogs have a sixth sense. The truth is, some of their senses are stronger than those of humans. Do you ever notice that your dog starts barking for no apparent reason, and then a delivery truck comes? Did your dog hear the truck before you did? What can dogs hear? Can dogs hear sounds that humans cannot? 

Signs of a Dog Hearing a Sound a Human Cannot

Dogs can hear on a much higher level than humans. They can hear more sounds and pick up on things that are far away in order to predict what will happen next. There are many signs you might notice when your dog is hearing something that you can't hear. 

A dog will act differently to sounds depending on his breed, age, and personality. If the sound seems threatening to your dog, he may get defensive. If he starts barking, jumping up, or trying to get your attention, he is trying to alert you of an intruder. If your dog hears a sound that he recognizes and likes, he may start wagging his tail and panting. 

There is one thing all dogs have in common in their reaction to sounds. You can always tell if your dog is hearing something by paying attention to his ears. Dogs have very expressive ears. 

If your dog hears something, his ears will perk up and he will get more alert. If he is interested in the sound, you'll notice that he shifts the position of his ears in order to better capture it. If your dog does not find the sound worthy of attention, he will quickly return his ears to a relaxed state after deeming the sound unimportant. 

Dogs can hear things at higher frequencies than humans. This means that they can hear things that are too high-pitched for humans to hear. That's why many dog owners use dog whistles to communicate with their dog. The humans cannot hear the whistle, but the dog will immediately respond. 

Body Language

Here are some signs you might notice when your dog is hearing something that you cannot:
  • Listening
  • Wag tail
  • Raise ears
  • Ears up

Other Signs

These are some other signs that your dog is hearing something that you cannot:
  • Nudging You
  • Running in Circles
  • Staring Off into the Distance

History of Dogs' Hearing

Over 15,000 years ago, man and wolf lived in the wild apart from each other. Eventually, a friendship bloomed when humans began feeding wolves their leftovers. In order to return the favor, wolves helped the humans hunt and provided protection to the community. 

These wolves were the first animals that humans ever domesticated. The bond between human and dog grew stronger as some wolves began looking more like dogs. Eventually, an entirely new species emerged. Different dogs were bred for different purposes. This led to the countless dog breeds we have today. 

Now, dogs and wolves are completely different beings. However, there are some traits that dogs retained from their wolf ancestors. One of these senses was their sense of hearing. Wolves' ears operate similarly to those of dogs in that they can both move their ears. These amazing animals can turn their ears in the direction of the sounds they are hearing. They can also raise their heads in order to pick up even more sounds. 

Dogs use the 18 muscles in their ears to help them hear from all angles and then respond accordingly. Dogs can easily differentiate between different noises depending on how they interpret the noises. They know how to react depending on the severity of the noise. 

For example, when a dog hears laughter or a positive tone, he will react positively. However, if he hears yelling or a negative tone of voice, he will respond in fear or defense. This ability has helped dogs navigate their world and be of even more assistance to humans. 

The Science of Dogs Hearing Sounds

Dogs have two incredibly powerful senses: their sense of smell, and their ability to hear a wide range of sounds. Their powerful sense of smell comes about as a result of their 300 million olfactory receptors (compared to a human's 6 million). Their ability to hear is an entirely different adventure. 

Dogs use their ears to help them balance and to express their emotions. Of course, they also use them to hear. And dogs can hear all sorts of things that humans cannot. They can hear 40 to 20,000 Hz, while humans can only here 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. That means that dogs have an amazing ability to hear higher-pitched sounds than humans. 

Dogs are born deaf as a result of their mother's short gestation period. They develop their hearing within the first few weeks of their life. In just a short time, they become experts at picking up new sounds. As dogs get older, their hearing can get worse, just like in humans. Some dog breeds hear better than other dogs, and some dogs are specifically trained to hear certain sounds. 

Training a Dog to Hear Certain Sounds

Dogs have a natural ability to hear sounds that humans cannot hear. However, their ability to choose which sounds to listen to can be carefully developed. You can also train dogs to respond to many sounds cues in ways that you indicate. 

At the most basic level, dogs respond to your voice depending on your tone. When you are happy, your dog will respond happily. When you speak in a low and negative tone of voice, your dog will respond in fear or defense. You can use this to your advantage in training your dog. 

When you train your dog, you are helping him grow intellectually. Dogs like to learn new things. A good training session can also strengthen the bond you have with your dog. So, you can only benefit from regular and consistent training of your dog. 

You can teach your dog to respond to sound cues by making a sound and then praising your dog when he performs the desired command. For example, if you want your dog to sit every time he hears a bell, you'll ring the bell, show him to sit, and then reward him when he successfully performs the task you've asked. 

You can reward your dog with treats when he has followed a sound command. Be sure to supplement treats with positive praise. When your dog receives a treat every time he follows a command, he may not obey if he is not hungry. You may sound the cue and if your dog is not hungry, he will not pay attention to it. The best way to avoid this obstacle is to simply give positive praise as much as you give treats. 

With much effort, dogs can be trained to respond to a variety of specific sounds. For example, some dogs can be trained to tell the difference between the sounds of different cars. That way, they can alert when a specific type of car is coming. 

How to React When Your Dog Responds to a Sound Cue

  • Give them positive reinforcement like treats, praise or belly rubs!
  • Build on their knowledge with more training.
  • Invest in a dog whistle to improve your dog's response time.

Tell Us About Your Dog Hearing Things You Can't!