4 min read


Can Dogs Sense Danger?



4 min read


Can Dogs Sense Danger?


You probably know the short answer to this - yes, dogs can sense danger. Too many times have we watches in movies and TV shows dogs barking to show “something’s not right”. But how accurate is this portrayal? 

Do dogs really have the power to sense something’s off when humans don’t? Is it precognition? Or is it some other ability to pick up subtle signs that we cannot? Whether it is something easily explained by science or in the domain of mysticism, dogs do seem to have a knack of sensing danger.


Signs Your Dog is Sensing Danger

From a burglar to a tornado, danger can take many forms. Our canine family members have remarkable senses of smell and hearing, which helps them pick up clues to the many forms of danger that may be near you. Once they pick up these clues, as subtle as they may be, the dogs will react. For instance, you may see them scratching on the door, whining, or barking. 

Generally, your dog will act in an unusual way when sensing danger. Being hyperactive, shaking, or hiding at an unusual time, are among the signs you should watch out for. Persistent barking will most easily grab your attention. Just be sure to pay attention to other, less loud behaviors described above. 

If your dog seems to be uncharacteristically following someone, you may want to alert that person. Sometimes, a dog's 6th sense draws them towards people who are about to run into some trouble. So their seemingly undue attention can be a sign of some danger related to that person.

Of course, if the dog is responding negatively towards a person, usually someone you don’t know, that person may be the source of danger. This may be something your dog does with every stranger. So once again, your knowledge of what constitutes usual and unusual behavior for your dog will help you better judge whether he may be sensing danger.

Your pooch may be trying to signal you of an impending danger. You know your dog the best, so you will know what behavior is most likely unexplained by common issues like hunger or fleas. You will be doing yourself a big favor by correctly reacting to your dog’s reaction to potential danger.

Body Language

Here are some signs that indicate your dog can sense danger:

  • Growling
  • Alert
  • Barking
  • Whining
  • Guarding
  • Jumping Up
  • Scratching

Other Signs

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

  • Erratic Behavior
  • Hiding
  • Running Away
  • Restlessness

History of Dogs Sensing Danger


Dogs are genetically programmed to survive in the wild. Considering they have descended from wolves, this kind of makes sense. Throughout the ages, dogs have impressed humans with their ability to detect danger before it was upon their human masters. This ability has saved lives on several occasions. We have all heard stories of heroic dogs sounding the alarm, protecting the lives and properties of their owners. 

There was the story covered on CNN of a family dog called Duke. Although he was usually a very obedient dog, he jumped on his owners’ bed in the middle of the night. The couple checked on their 9-week-old baby to find she wasn’t breathing. They called 911 and the paramedics arrived to revive the baby. 

From wars to law enforcement, dogs have been proving their innate abilities to detect danger in the most crucial times. Other times, the backdrop may not be so dramatic, but the results just as crucial; like that of saving a life in just another day at home. 

Despite living in the digital age, we are still baffled, and impressed by such stories that we continue to hear. These are not just tales of long ago that we can file away under folklore, but modern-day encounters that people continue to share. Considering the positive results of such stories, we can only hope that these stories are not simply a part of history!

Science of Dogs Sensing Danger


Given how well dogs play the role of personal warning sirens, they have been the focus of scientists for a long time. The closest science has come to explaining a dog’s ability to sense danger is defining just how acute their senses of hearing and smell are. While not better than humans, their sense of sight is different than ours. 

In addition to their super smell, dogs can hear frequencies up to 60 Hz, while human hearing maxes out at 20 Hz. These superhuman abilities enable them to sense things like change in barometric pressure as a tornado is forming. Plus, scientists have discovered that dogs may have UV vision. This means they might be much better at seeing at night, taking in details that we never could. 

Training Your Dog to Signal Danger


First, you should be on the lookout for signs of your dog picking up on potential danger. We discussed above what those signs may be. Of course, you want to avoid any danger that your dog may have sensed. If possible, quickly check the TV or news on your mobile for any warnings of storms or earthquakes. You should also check common danger issues in your surroundings. 

For instance, if you’re at home, see whether you left something on the stove, or if there’s something wrong with the wiring somewhere. If you have kids, check on them. Also, let your dog see you’re not sitting around ignoring them. Reassure them if you have to. 

Even if it turns out to be nothing, you don’t want to discourage their behavior in case you’re in some real danger and the dog learns the wrong lesson of not reacting as strongly to it in front of you. This is one of those occasions where being a gentle and attentive dog owner pays off big time. It may even save your life one day.

 To make yourself better prepared for such situations, it’s best to be well-read on stories about dogs sensing danger. What other people have experienced may help you locate an issue in your zone more quickly. If your dog happens to alert you to some actual danger, share your story so others can benefit!   

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Written by Fatima Mansoor

Veterinary reviewed by:

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

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