4 min read


Can Dogs Hear Ultrasonic Sound?



4 min read


Can Dogs Hear Ultrasonic Sound?


You know your dog has amazing hearing. They can hear very accurately as their sense of hearing is about four times better than a human's. That means your pooch can hear noises that you would never be able to hear, which explains some of their odd behavior for seemingly no reason from time to time. 

Ultrasonic sound means that the sound's frequency is above that of normal sounds and is not audible to the average person. But since dogs have much better hearing than we do, does that mean your dog is able to hear different ultrasonic sound frequencies? In short, the answer is yes.


Signs of a Dog Hearing Ultrasonic Sound

Since your dog has quite sensitive hearing, they can hear different frequencies of ultrasonic sound. Ultrasonic sounds can come from a variety of devices and many of those items can be household objects. For instance, if you have an ultrasonic style humidifier, there is a chance your dog can hear its sound frequency. 

High-pitched ultrasonic sounds can very very loud and irritating to your dog and even have the potential to hurt their ears if they are powerful enough. If you do have something ultrasonic in your home, you can keep an eye on your dog's behavior to watch for signs the sounds is bothering or annoying them. 

If the sound is bothering your dog, they will likely keep their distance from the object. They may walk or stand with their tail between their legs as if they are agitated, they may tilt their head to the side as if they are listening, they may put their ears down, drop their ears,  and their jaw may be tense. They may also just appear as if something is bothering them or maybe they won't act like themselves. You know your dog the best, so if they seem to be acting differently for no apparent reason, check to see if there is anything in your home that emit an ultrasonic sound frequency. 

Body Language

These are some signs you may notice if your dog hears ultrasonic sound:

  • Head Tilting
  • Listening
  • Ears Drop
  • Tense Jaw
  • Tail Tucking
  • Ears Back

Other Signs

Here are some other signs you may notice if your dog can hear ultrasonic sound:

  • Acting Unlike Themselves
  • Does Not Bark When They Should
  • Acting Agitated For No Reason
  • Keeping Distance From Certain Objects

History of Dogs and Ultrasonic Sound


Although a dog's most powerful sense is that of smell, their ability to hear comes in as their second strongest sense. A dog is able to hear at a much higher frequency than we can, meaning your dog can hear many different noises we would never be able to hear. 

Thousands of years ago before dogs became the domesticated creatures we know today, their ancestors, like wolves, used their ability to hear such high frequencies for hunting purposes. Small animals like mice and rats made up a very large portion of a wolf's diet. These kinds of animals make very high-pitched sounds like squealing. These sounds would allow a wolf to locate the animal's location much easier so they were able to prey on the small animal and have a meal to eat. 

Surprisingly, it is believed that the dogs we know today have lost some of their ability to hear as well as their wolf ancestors. Although dogs still need to use their sense of hearing on a day-to-day basis, they do not need to rely on their ability to hear the high-pitched frequencies of small vermin while they are hunting for food. 

Science Behind Dogs Hearing Ultrasonic Sound


Many animals are able to hear ultrasonic frequencies, and that includes dogs. Dogs are able to hear sounds as high as 50,000 Hz, but it is more likely they can hear sounds up to 65,000 Hz. If we compare this to humans, humans can only hear frequencies up to 20,000 Hz. One of the reasons dogs are able to hear better than humans is because their ears are much more mobile than those of humans. This allows the dogs to maximize their hearing abilities. If we look at the overall shape of the dog's ear, this can also contribute to a reason why they can hear better than a human can.

Training Dogs With Ultrasonic Sound


Using ultrasonic sounds to train dogs has become increasingly popular in recent years. However, there is a lot of controversy as to whether these kinds of devices are safe to use for training your dog - some swear by this kind of training while others believe they are inhumane. 

Training a dog with an ultrasonic sound device may not be the best option because most devices do not tell you what sound the device will make or at what frequency the device uses - this is concerning because the hertz could be very high and hurt your dog's ears, but you will never know. 

This type of training is essentially using a sound that is very loud and unpleasant to your dog to train them not to do something, like barking at the inappropriate time or keeping them off a certain couch. Rather than training your dog not to do something and then rewarding them for a job well done when they don't do the thing you don't want them to do, it's using a negative action to train them what they are doing is wrong. Negative-reinforcement-style training is becoming frowned upon within the training community and is believed to be less effective than positive reinforcement training. 

Furthermore, some dogs remain unaffected by ultrasonic sounds or may not even hear them at all, especially if they are older. If your dog does not hear the sound or the sound does not affect them, this is not going to be an effective way to train your dog. 

You have many better options for training your dog that does not require the use of expensive ultrasonic deceives specifically geared towards dogs. There is no guarantee they will work. You are better off using firm verbal commands and trying to understand the root of the issue and training your dog to stop from there, instead of using a solution that just may mask the real root issue temporarily. 

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Safety Tips for Using Ultrasonic Sound Around Your Dog:

  1. Stop use if they become agitated.
  2. Ensure it doesn't annoy or bother them.
  3. Make sure it doesn't hurt their ears.

Written by a Samoyed lover Kayla Costanzo

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 04/06/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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