5 min read


Can Dogs Sense Earthquakes?



5 min read


Can Dogs Sense Earthquakes?


Man’s best friend is front page news with studies showing they have unique talents. It appears our doggy-pals are not only great companions, but their heightened senses can detect the rumble of an earthquake! 

Is it their amazing hearing that can detect the ground is about to move? Some think its instinct, or even, a sixth sense. Others are not so sure. The debate continues as science and psychology air their views and the general public waits for a verdict. 

It's true, animals get super restless before a quake and some even flee the area. Can you imagine a future where dogs are earthquake predictors? Stranger things have happened!


Can Dogs Sense an Earthquake?

If you hear your dog barking like crazy outside, it may not be an intruder approaching, but instead, a sign an earthquake is imminent.

People have reported their dog pacing, whining and howling before a seismic event. They say animals can sense danger, so do they have super-powers or is it something else? Can dogs hear the beginnings of an earthquake, deep in the earth?

We know they can smell cancer and predict epileptic seizures, so why not earthquakes? The mind boggles at the thought of canine experts in the field of seismology.

Prior to an earthquake, you might notice your cute Corgi seems restless or just generally out of sorts. She’s jumping up and scratching at the back door, so you let her out. As she runs like mad across the yard you wonder, what’s up? This is not like your Jessie, so you call to her. Suddenly the ground begins to shake. Your heart is in overdrive as you hold onto the door.

It soon passes, and Jessie comes bounding back in through the door. Your dog had predicted the earthquake and ran for cover in the shed.

Experts think dogs hear the seismic waves under the earth before they are felt on the surface. Our wonder-pups have exceptional hearing and can hone in on high-frequency sounds that we can’t hear. It’s possible they hear the sounds of rocks breaking along a fault line and know what happens next. They may also feel the vibrations through their paws and sense the electrical signal from the rocks sliding.

 That must be a scary sound for our doggies! No wonder they freak out! All senses are on red alert as the ground is rockin' n’ rollin' - well before we feel the impact.

When Mother Nature is about to roar, dogs hear it first. They are tuned to their surroundings, with instincts we’ve lost in the jungle of life.  

If you see you’re Samoyed sniffing the air with ears up, listening – make sure you have an escape route planned. 

Body Language

Here are signs your dog may be detecting an earthquake:<br/>

  • Barking
  • Listening
  • Jumping Up
  • Howling
  • Scratching

Other Signs

Here are some more signs your dog knows a quake is coming:<br/>

  • Sniffing The Air
  • Running Away From The House
  • Freaking Out
  • Acting Really Strange
  • Asking To Be Let Out

The History of Dogs Sensing Earthquakes


The synchronicity between animals hours, days or weeks before a quake is enlightening and offers enough evidence for some nations to monitor their movements.

Saying out loud that snakes, elephants or dogs can warn of impending doom is not how the experts roll. The general public also wants facts, but are also aware how Chico, their Chihuahua, reacts before a quake. What comes naturally to our doggy-mates takes forever for us to believe. It seems dogs are predicting earthquakes better than some seismologists. They can tell us the possible location, but not exactly when the event will happen.

Throughout history, animals have been indicators of disasters, with elephants breaking their chains and trumpeting before the 2011 Tsunami in Japan wreaked havoc. The elephants saved the lives of their handlers and tourists on the beach, who followed them to higher ground.

Toads left their colonies and were seen on the streets before the 2009 earthquake struck the city of L’Aquila in the Southern part of Italy.

Going back further in time, a story filters down from Ancient Grecian times where snakes and weasels packed their backs for a safer place - days before an earthquake/Tsunami destroyed the city of Helice.

Before the Christchurch 6.8-magnitude earthquake devastated the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, some folks were woken by their dogs and cats. After the earthquake, a website was set up to invite residents to report unusual animal behavior. Some pets pawed their guardians while others wanted to be let out. A few dogs stood by the doorway just as the quake hit. There was also a significant rise in lost pets.

How did a dog know that the doorway was a safe place? The same way we know to dive under the table!

The Science Behind Dogs Sensing Earthquakes


Dogs can predict earthquakes and by doing such, help mankind save lives. At least that’s what Seismologists in China are hoping. Inspired by the findings in Peru, where scientists set up cameras in Yanachaga National Park and recorded animals vacating the area three weeks before a quake. In the last 5 or so days before disaster struck, there were no animals to be seen. It is thought an animal can hear and sense changes under the ground and in the earth’s Ionosphere.

This prompted a study on an Italian farm, where sheep were fitted with tags and carefully monitored by a German scientist who believes it could be possible to warn people about earthquakes using animals. The New York Times reported scientists are generally skeptical about such things, but since the Peru experiment, others have begun new studies.

What would it mean for mankind if our dogs and other animals could warn us of an impending quake? Thousands, maybe even millions of lives could be saved! We rely on seismographs to help predict earthquakes, but it seems the animal kingdom has its ear to the ground and knows before we do.

Training Your Dog to Sense Earthquakes


It’s not a dead certainty, but many now believe our doggy-pals can predict a quake. Scientists are seekers of the truth, so asking them if a dog has the power to save you from a quake is likely to be met with “there's no real proof".

 If it were proven true, dogs would have new jobs along with those they perform on a daily basis helping the police, military, and people with disabilities. Seismomutts would alert people there’s an incoming quake and give folks enough time to prepare. They would use their perceptive skills to warn the world and reduce the causalities, that occur in a catastrophic quake.

Our reliance on Science to set the green light to go will keep this on the back-burner for now, although some nations are getting on with it - knowing this could be something real.

In the meantime, what you can do is allow your dog to train you to spot their signals of danger. If you've ever been through a natural disaster with your pooch, try to remember exactly what your doggo did in the hours leading up to the event. Even things that may have just seemed slightly odd could actually have been indicators that your pup sensed things were not right.

After putting some thought into it and asking other family members what they noticed, compile all of your dog's "disaster tells". You could put these signs down on paper and put them on the fridge, so that if another natural disaster comes, you know what to look for in your pooch!

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Written by a Japanese Chin lover Linda Cole

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 02/19/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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