5 min read


Can Dogs Hear Your Thoughts?



5 min read


Can Dogs Hear Your Thoughts?


Sometimes it may seem like your dog knows what you are going to do before you even do it. They respond to us when we are sad, and they celebrate with us when we are happy. Even when humans can't tell if someone is nervous, it seems like dogs can. 

Is this because dogs know what we are thinking? It sometimes appears as though dogs may have a sixth sense. They are so good at understanding their humans and it creates a very strong bond between the two species. How are dogs so good at responding to our thoughts? Can dogs hear our thoughts? 


Signs a Dog Can Tell What You're Thinking

Though it often seems like dogs have a keen ability to know what we are thinking, they can't actually read our minds. Dogs do understand that we have emotions, and they know which emotions are negative and positive. 

Dogs use their hearing to help them understand what we are thinking and how we are feeling. They can understand what our tone of voice means based on their previous experiences of what happens when they hear that voice. Dogs are experts at predicting situations, and they use their prior knowledge of our moods to understand what will happen next and act accordingly. 

Dogs use their other senses to understand what we are thinking, too. They use their sense of smell to detect our hormone production and brain chemical levels. That's how dogs can tell when people are angry, or when people are feeling especially loving. 

In order to better understand what we are thinking, dogs pay special attention to our body language. They read our body language and respond to it accordingly depending on their breed and personality. You can tell when your dog knows what you are thinking when you get a response from them. If your dog is detecting that you are thinking something specific, such as something distressing or especially happy, you'll notice a few key elements. They will perk up in order to pay better attention. 

A dog who is reading your thoughts and feelings will be engaging their senses to better understand what is going on. You'll notice them perking up their ears and gazing at you. When a dog is staring at you, it means they are trying to take in more information about your thoughts. 

Dogs are able to read our thoughts effectively because they combine all of their unique senses to pay attention to and remember what we need in various situations. 

Body Language

Here are some signs you might notice when your dog knows what you're thinking:

  • Staring
  • Wag Tail
  • Sniffing
  • Ears Up

Other Signs

Here are a few other signs you might notice when your dog knows what you're thinking:

  • Paying More Attention To You
  • Walking Closer To You
  • Upright Posture

History of Dogs Reading Thoughts


The dogs we know and love today did not always look the way they do now. In fact, dogs evolved from wolves thousands of years ago. It was over 15,000 years ago. Wolves and humans roamed the open land independent of each other. 

The wolves discovered that the humans discarded their leftover food by throwing it into the land around them. Wolves wanted to get closer to the humans in order to get more food. When the wolves were mean and threatening, the humans were more defensive and closed off. Wolves learned that the nicer they were, the closer they were able to get to humans. 

So, over time the wolves got better and better at connecting with the humans around them. These wonderful traits were passed on from generation to generation and wolves began looking more like the dogs we know and love today. 

Dogs don't know exactly what we are thinking, they just know that we have emotions. This knowledge helps them get good at reading our emotions and leads them to grow closer to their humans. They are able to predict what is going to happen next based on our tone of voice, body language, and hormone production. 

The Science of Dogs Reading Thoughts


Dogs have a strong ability to read and respond to our emotions based on the subtle cues that we don't even notice we give them. Dogs are fluent in body language. They are also skilled at picking up on our vocal cues. They understand our change in tone and can then analyze that tone to figure out what mood we are in. 

One study illustrated that dogs respond to what humans want. When the dogs in the study were give the choice between a large bowl of food and a smaller bowl of food, they often picked the bowl that the human appeared to prefer. 

Training a Dog to Read Your Thoughts


Dogs are very observant animals. They take advantage of all of their senses in order to provide support to their humans. Looking to humans for leadership, dogs will respond according to the demonstrations of their human. 

For example, if you show your dog that you are happy with a smile, a happy tone of voice, and open body language, your dog will respond by mimicking your emotion and joining you. When you are sad, your dog will likely comfort you and get calm. Dogs who sense their owner is in danger frequently get defensive and protective. 

Dogs pick up on our mannerisms and cues quickly. They are very intuitive animals from the beginning of their lives. The best way to improve a dog's ability to read thoughts is by exposing them to many different people and scenarios. You can increase their skill by giving them more situations to react to. You can teach your dog how to behave to certain moods by giving your dog praise when they respond correctly to social cues. Whether they are around people or hanging out with you, dogs will react in different ways. 

If your dog notices you are sad and comforts you, you can reward this behavior (after you feel better), with praise, a treat, or a game of fetch. Rewarding your dog with things they enjoy will provide a great time while building your relationship and having fun. 

The more time you spend with your dog the more they will pick up on the subtle cues you don't even know you are giving off. If you want your dog to gain more intuitiveness, you can create more situations where they are around people and other dogs. 

For example, you can go sit on the patio at a restaurant. You can give rewards when your dog responds to people and other animals in appropriate ways. Not only will your dog get better at understanding what humans are thinking, they will also have more fun and enjoy life even more!  

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Written by a Corgi lover Simone DeAngelis

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 03/28/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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