Can Dogs Predict Earthquakes?

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Earthquakes are a terrible natural disaster that have the potential to cause lots of danger and damage. In the last few years, we have seen some of the worst earthquakes in history and it should be a warning that earthquake-prone areas need to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

Earthquakes generally come with no warning and it is hard to predict when one will strike and where it will happen.  

However, we do get some insight from animals, and that includes dogs! Dogs have been known to alert humans and their owners that dangerous weather was approaching. We can take the ways our dog reacts in certain situations to give us a hand in predicting when something like a earthquake or storm may be about to happen. 

Introduction of Can Dogs Predict Earthquakes?

Signs of a Dog Sensing an Earthquake

Although the signs of a dog sensing an earthquake are a little ambiguous since they overlap with so many other events and behaviors, dogs who sense earthquakes or other similar phenomena will show certain signs prior to the event actually happening. 

If there is an impending earthquake, your dog will begin to act strangely out of nowhere and this will be untypical of their normal behavior. You know your dog well, so it will not be too challenging to tell when there is something wrong or off about their behavior. 

Some dogs will begin to run around in circles and pace about frantically. It may appear as if something has spooked them or as if they saw something that made them nervous. Dogs will often bark, cry, and whine as well, for what seems to be no valid reason. Dogs who like to howl may start howling and your dog may begin clinging to you for comfort with their ears down like they are fearful of something. 

On the other hand, dogs will instinctively seek shelter when they sense bad weather or they feel like they are in danger. Your dog may run off to hide under a bed, in a closet, in their crate, or if they are outside, they may go under a bush, deck, or into their dog house. 

It is important to note that just because your dog is showing all or some of these signs, it does not mean an earthquake or other natural disaster is about to strike. There are many reasons dogs may act this way or appear scared for seemingly no reason. But take their behaviors seriously and do what you feel is right depending on the situation. 

Body Language

Here are some signs you might notice when your dog is sensing an earthquake:
  • Barking
  • Whining
  • Shaking
  • Cowering
  • Howling
  • Ears drop
  • Pacing
  • Tail tucking

Other Signs

These are some other signs you may notice if your dog is sensing an earthquake:
  • Acting Unlike Themselves
  • Wanting to Cuddle With You
  • Barking Relentlessly
  • Hiding Away in a Safe Spot

History of Dogs Sensing Earthquakes

History of Can Dogs Predict Earthquakes?
The history of a dog's ability to sense earthquakes before they happen actually goes back thousands of years. Some of the first recorded instances happened in 373 BC in Greece. Records indicated that dogs and other wild animals would move and seek shelter a few days before an earthquake would hit. 

China and Japan rely on dogs and other animals as a way to help predict earthquakes and they are an integral part of their detecting system. We see a more recent example with dogs helping a Chinese city in 1975 move more than 90,000 residence to safety when dogs and other animals began to act very strangely. 

A few days later, an earthquake hit the city at a 7.3 magnitude, which destroyed more than 90% of the city. Another dog owner claims they were on a walk with their dog in San Fransisco before one of the worst earthquakes hit California. Moments before, the dog began to run around in circles frantically and barked relentlessly. 

Prior to these kinds of events, scientists did not focus their efforts on understanding why dogs and other animals may sense an earthquake a few days before it happens. Since then, numerous studies have been conducted and have found potential reasons how dogs are able to sense earthquakes before they happen. 

Science Behind Dogs Sensing Earthquakes

Science of Can Dogs Predict Earthquakes?
One possible explanation of how dogs are able to sense earthquakes before they happen is due to their incredible sense of hearing. Their fine-tuned sense of hearing might allow the dog to hear seismic activities.

This means they can hear the scraping, cracking, and breaking of large rocks underground that we are not able to hear on our own. This sound would make the dog fearful and uncertain about their environment, eliciting the odd behaviors they experience before the earthquake hits. 

Other studies have been conducted as well to see just how many dogs and animals showed odd behavior before an earthquake. After Japan experienced a magnitude 9 earthquake in 2011, scientists launched an investigation to explore just how many family pets acted strangely in the days preceding the devastating earthquake. 

They found that 236 of 1,259 dog owners and 115 of 703 cat owners had noticed behavioral changes. Some of the signs the owners reported were barking, howling, neediness, and general restlessness. About 60% of pet owners claimed these behaviors intensified minutes before the earthquake struck. 

Training Dogs to Sense Earthquakes

Training of Can Dogs Predict Earthquakes?
You do not have to worry about training your dog to sense earthquakes. This is something they will be able to do on their own. All you can do is make sure you and your dog are properly prepared for an earthquake since they can happen at any time and without notice. This is important to do if you live in an earthquake-prone area. 

You always want to make sure your dog has a collar and a tag with their name, address, and your phone number on it. Many dogs will run away seeking better shelter when their instincts kick in. If this happens, you want to make sure you can find your dog after they run away and the earthquake strikes. This will help anyone who finds your dog locate you immediately and with ease. Microchip implants are also a great idea. 

Make sure that their leash, collar, and harness are easily accessible if you need to leave your home quickly, you will want to keep your dog close to you at all times and a leash and well-fitting harness will keep them close and safe. Perhaps place them by your front door so they can be grabbed and put on just as you are leaving. 

Keep plenty of their food and fresh bottled water on hand as well. Make sure these are easy to grab and go. You can even keep some food in your car as well if you need to really leave in a rush. 

Lastly, try to remain as calm as possible. Your dog is going to feel frightened and scared. If you have fearful energy and are nervous, it will only make them more scared. 

How to React if Your Dog Senses an Earthquake:

  • Keep them close and seek a safe place to stay.
  • Remain as calm as possible.

Safety Tips for When Your Dog Senses an Earthquake:

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    Keep their leash and harness in an easily accessible area.
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    Always have their food and bottled water on hand.
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    Make sure they have ID on them and have a microchip.