Can Dogs Sense Earthquakes?

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Introduction

Earthquakes often come without any warning, and they are one of the worst and scariest of natural disasters. Earthquakes have the potential to cause a lot of damage to just about anything, from cars to homes to the environment. 

These natural disasters are becoming more common, so we must be prepared to deal with a potential earthquake at just about anytime, especially if you live in earthquake-prone areas. 

Even though there is generally no warning for these events, we may gain a bit of insight from our furry friends - dogs! Dogs have an uncanny ability to sense when there is bad weather on the way and the same goes for earthquakes. Next time your dog is acting odd for seemingly no reason, keep a close eye on their behaviors because they may be trying to tell you scary earth activity is on its way. 

Signs of a Dog Sensing an Earthquake

There are a few common signs you can look out for that show your dog may know an earthquake is on the way. Please keep in mind these signs can mean many different things, and it does not necessarily indicate an earthquake or other natural disaster is coming, they just have the potential to suggest it. If there is an earthquake about to strike, your dog will begin to act strangely and unlike themselves. This will generally happen quickly and out of nowhere. These signs will vary from dog to dog since all pups have different personalities and ways they behave on a daily basis. 

However, some dogs may run around in circles or pace about frantically. You may think that something scared them, or they heard something you did not, but it may mean they are sensing something terrible about to happen and they are anxious. 

Furthermore, your dog might begin to cry, bark, whine, howl, or whimper as if they are fearful. Your dog may run away and hide in a closet or under a bed as well. Dogs immediately want to seek shelter and a place they feel comfortable when they sense something terrible is going to happen, and this is often one of the most significant indications an earthquake, or another natural disaster, is impending. 

Body Language

Here are some signs you might notice when your dog is sensing an earthquake:
  • Alert
  • Listening
  • Shaking
  • Ears drop
  • Pacing
  • Tense jaw
  • Sweaty paws
  • Tail tucking

Other Signs

These are some other signs you may notice if your dog is sensing an earthquake:
  • Hiding away in a safe spot
  • Barking relentlessly
  • Wanting to cuddle with you
  • Acting unlike themselves

History of Dogs Sensing Earthquakes

We can trace animals' and dogs' abilities to sense earthquakes, severe weather, and other natural disasters back thousands of years. We have found recorded instances of animals indicating a storm was coming all the way back in 373 BC in Greece. Depictions would show dogs and animals running away and seeking shelter and higher ground when floods and earthquakes hit Earth. 

Today, many countries heavily rely on dogs and animals to help tell if an earthquake may happen soon. Japan and China are among these countries. 

For instance, in 1973, a large Chinese city experiences a horrific earthquake. However, they used dogs and animals behaviors to help alert them to the earthquake. They were able to remove more than 90,000 people from the city before it hit and saved countless lives. The earthquake ranked a 7.3, and it destroyed the entire city. We are so thankfully doggies were able to help save so many innocent lives! 

Before these types of events occurred, scientists showed little interest in understanding why, how, and if dogs had the ability to sense natural disasters like earthquakes. Thankfully, with so many amazing stories like these, studies have been launched to help us better understand how dogs can detect disasters. 

Science Behind Dogs Sensing Earthquakes

There are many theories as to why dogs can sense earthquakes before they happen, but one of the most widely accepted ones suggests that dogs can hear the moving and grinding of the tectonic plates below Earth's surface. Dogs have a fantastic sense of hearing, so it makes sense they could detect these sounds when humans cannot. 

The breaking, scraping, and cracking of the large rocks underground may be extremely loud to dogs, and it is frightening! These loud, scary sounds would explain why dogs begin to panic, bark, and want to seek shelter where they are comfortable. 

There have also been studies to examine just how many dogs would show behavior before an earthquake hit that was out of the ordinary. In 2011, when a magnitude nine earthquake hit Japan, a study was launched afterward to tally how many dogs and animals in the region acted oddly during the days proceeding the devastating quake. 

They found that 236 of 1,259 dog owners and 115 of 703 cat owners reported their pets acting strangely for their typical selves the days before the earthquake hit and on the day of. Owners shared with researches their pets would cry, bark, howl, feel restless, and were much needier than usual. They also found that 60% of the owners said their pet's behavior greatly intensified mere seconds before the quake hit. This staggering number shows a massive correlation between strange pet behavior and a natural disaster happening soon after. 

Training Dogs to Sense Earthquakes

You do not need to train your dog to sense earthquakes. Your dog can do this on their own, and they do not need any type of guidance. They only thing you should need to worry about is making sure you and your pup are safe if an earthquake does hit. This is important if you live in an area where earthquakes tend to happen. 

Make sure your dog wears a collar and a tag with their name, address, and your phone number on it at all times since it is hard to know when a quake will happen. Many dogs will run away when the ground starts shaking, and this is particularly bad if your pup is outside. If they do run away, you need a way to track them once it has ended and you go to look for them. This will also help someone else who finds your dog. They can easily call you so you can pick them up from their location. Microchip implants are also a good idea. 

Keep your dog's leash, collar, and harness easily accessible in case you need to leave your house in a rush.

Keep food and fresh bottled water on hand, so your dog always has access to their necessities. You want the food easily accessible and packaged well so you can just grab and go when the time comes. Many owners in earthquake-prone areas will keep water and dog food in their cars as well. 

How to React if Your Dog Senses an Earthquake:

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

Safety Tips for When Your Dog Senses an Earthquake:

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