3 min read


Can Dogs Sense Cockroaches?



3 min read


Can Dogs Sense Cockroaches?


We all know that dogs have a very sharp sense of hearing and smell. We also know that many dogs are fond of eating and/or tormenting cockroaches. As a dog owner, you may have noticed that dogs are able to detect a cockroach is in the zone. 

How do they know this? How do dogs sense cockroaches? Their acute hearing and sense of smell seem to be the answer. Let’s take a closer look at how dogs detect cockroaches.


Signs of Dogs Sensing Cockroaches

A cockroach doesn’t exactly create a commotion when it moves. They are pretty light creatures and can move in and out of places very quickly. But you can see your dog sensing the roaches. Your dog may have their head tilted to one side, ears raised. Chances are, your doggo is trying to listen to a cockroach’s movement. Considering dogs can hear earthquakes through the sound and vibrations underground, hearing the cockroaches this way isn’t all that surprising. 

Keep a lookout for the dog’s ears. They will be going back and forth, left and right - even dropping down occasionally. Your dog may also position their body differently to get a better sense of this prey moving about the house. All these tell the tale of your doggo detecting cockroaches. The roaches often come out at night when you’re not moving around the place. During this time, your dog can be even more alert and more easily pick up the roaches’ movement as there is little activity besides that. 

Remember that just because your dog is sensing and reacting to roaches, doesn’t mean they are oblivious to everything else. Dogs can control their ears independently of each other. So while you may see your dog focused on something that may be a cockroach, they may still be attentive to what you are saying.

Body Language

Here are some signs your dog is sensing cockroaches:

  • Alert
  • Head Tilting
  • Listening
  • Raise Ears
  • Head Turning
  • Ears Up

Other Signs

Here are some more signs that your pooch can sense cockroaches:

  • Sniffing And Listening
  • Moving Ears Back & Forth, Side By Side
  • Focusing On Their Surroundings

History of Dogs Sensing Cockroaches


Dogs have been known to sense cockroaches for as long as we have known these two living things. Dogs have had to rely on their instincts to sense a lot of movements. This was crucial for dogs in the wild. But even for domesticated dogs living in proper homes with human owners, they can still sense things like cockroaches. 

People tell all kinds of stories about their dogs sensing and going after cockroaches. For instance, one dog owner talked about their 8-year old dog sensing a cockroach even in the dark. The owner was surprised how this was possible, jokingly referring to this practice as a special talent. This particular dog starting acting crazy after sensing there was a roach nearby. Some dogs may ignore cockroaches. But they’ll sense them all the same, using a combination of their sharp hearing and sense of smell.

Science of Dogs Sensing Cockroaches


With 300 million scent receptors in their nose, dogs have a remarkable sense of smell. Add to that, the super-pup hearing of up to 60 Hz compared to human’s ability to hear only till 20 Hz. The combination of these two, very powerful senses allows dogs to detect cockroaches. Your doggo will be alerted to the movement of these insects even in the dark. 

In addition, the super hearing of dogs allows them to hear the faint sounds cockroaches and other insects make. You cannot hear these particular sounds because they are out of the range that humans are receptive to. Even the positioning of a dog’s ears (on top of the head) gives them better sound from all direction than us. This keeps roaches from walking past your dog unnoticed.

Training Your Dog to Sense Cockroaches


Your dog can sense cockroaches quite well on their own. But some dogs are not too inclined to go after the roaches, even if they detect them around the house. If that is the case and you would prefer your dog to do something, you can try your hand at training. So, if you have the time and motivation, you can use some positive reinforcement to train your dog.

Put some samples of live cockroaches in containers with a sealed mesh. This will let the scent out, but not the roaches. Put the roaches with food in a container, rewarding your dog whenever they sniff out the food with the roaches. Take it up a notch by placing samples of just food and just roaches. This time, only reward your dog if they locate the container with the cockroach. 

If you are feeling particularly thorough, you can mix up the cockroach containers with those containing food, feces, and then, ultimately, containers without any food. For each attempt, only rewards your dog when they locate the cockroaches.

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Safety Tips Regarding Dogs Sensing Cockroaches:

  1. If you have a lot of roaches, call an exterminator.
  2. Make sure your dog doesn’t eat a cockroach that may have been poisoned.

By Fatima Mansoor

Published: 06/26/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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