Have you ever been gardening when, all of a sudden, you notice a big, slimy worm in your way? Gross, right? Well, they're actually not as gross as you think. They break down the soil and do a lot of great things for your garden. Sometimes it seems to be more the surprise of finding a worm or touching one accidentally that is unpleasant, rather than seeing the worm itself.
It would be great if you could sense the worm was already there... or maybe that would be more gross, it's up to you. However, someone in your family might already have this capability - your dog! We know dogs are very curious, and use all of their senses to understand more about the world around them, but are their senses so sensitive that they can actually hear worms underground?
Signs Your Dog Hears Something
There really isn’t much credible research that will tell you exactly how your dog will act if they hear a worm underground. However, we do know what a dog will do if they hear something coming their way. You’ll notice your pup becoming very alert and maybe looking off into the distance as they try to observe where the sound is coming from, and if it’s coming toward them.
They might put their ears up, too, and appear to be listening to something. Dogs’ ears are designed to catch sounds, and putting their ears up is a good way of expanding this capability. One of a dogs’ strongest senses is their sense of smell. So, you might also notice them sniff at the air to gather more information about the sound.
So, what if your dog doesn’t like what they hear? They might feel threatened or scared. If this happens, it is important to note that your dog’s body might stiffen and they might start growling or barking. If this happens, your dog might try to run towards or away from the new sound.
If you’re not in your yard or house, make sure you have your dog on a leash. They might try to run off, and they could get hurt. So, be extra careful! If the sound really doesn’t bug them, they’ll probably just move along as if nothing is wrong, and you can just go about your business.
History of Dogs and Bugs
Historically, bugs are pretty important. Humans have used them for farming and even for food. Yup, bugs still are eaten in some countries! However, in many developed countries, creepy crawlies are not usually the top of any humans' list for food or company.
It can actually be considered dirty to have bugs around your home. This creates a very strained relationship between humans and bugs. If you see a spider in your house, you kill it with your shoe. Ants coming in through a crack in your door? You set traps. Pesky bugs found their way into your panty? You clean it out.
Humans don't like to coexist with bugs in their homes. In fact, the disdain for bugs is so great, that there is an entire pest control industry devoted to keeping bugs away from you and your home. It's that important to people.
Dogs, on the other hand, seem mainly curious about bugs. In most cases, they don't seem to phase them much. So, even if they could hear worms or other insects, they might just ignore them since it doesn’t seem to be terribly important to them.
Science Behind Dogs' Hearing
Can they hear worms, though? Scientifically, dogs have really amazing senses of smell and hearing. PetMeds.com says that a dog’s hearing range is between 40-60,000 Hz. As a human, you can only hear between 20 and 20,000 Hz. Pretty staggering, huh? Dogs can hear better than a human, even if the human can hear the max 20,000 Hz.
So, it’s pretty safe to say that your pup can hear so much more than you. PetMeds.com also mentions that dogs’ hearing is even more sensitive because of special muscles in their ears. Did you know that your pup actually has 18 muscles in their ears? These muscles help them raise, lower, tilt, or rotate them - so they can hear even better. They are compared to a radar or antenna.
Dogs are not only able to hear sounds, but they can filter sounds as well. This probably helps them not get overwhelmed by everything around them. So, maybe if they can hear worms, they simply filter the sound out. At this point, no one really knows.
Training Your Dog to Hear Bugs
Would you like to train your dog to bark every time they sense a creepy crawly? That would be nice in some ways because you'd have some warning. If they did that, though, you'd probably be alerted very, very often of a close-by bug - which might not be very reassuring.
Bugs are just part of life. So, is there a way to train your dog to sense bugs or alert you? Not that we know of, at this time. So, you're probably better off just sticking to your pest control service and wear gloves while you're gardening.
By Katie Anderson
Published: 05/30/2018, edited: 04/06/2020