3 min read


Can Dogs Sense Pests Underground?



3 min read


Can Dogs Sense Pests Underground?


Pests in your yard are no joking matter. Moles, gophers, ground squirrels, and more can wreak havoc on your yard. They can be dangerous around your children, and if you have a farm or ranch, they can cause even bigger problems. 

However, another problem you may not have thought of is your pooch sensing the pests. Can your dog really sense the pests, and if so, how? There’s some debate about all of this, but learning more about it could save you a bigger mess in your yard.


Signs Your Dog Hears or Smells a Pest

Most sources say that it’s likely dogs sense pests through their senses of smell and hearing. So, you might notice your dog is on high alert if they hear or senses a pest in their yard, and you might also notice your dog sniffing around the general area where that pest may be hiding. Your pooch may start barking, and they may even start digging to find the pest.

If your dog happens to see a pest come up from underground, be alert yourself. Your furry friend may chase the pest and attempt to catch it. It’s up to you if you want to allow your dog to catch pests or not. Some breeds are better at catching pests than others. 

Also, if your pooch chases the pest into a hole, they may start digging up your yard to try and find the pest. This can create an even bigger mess and more problems for your already ailing yard!

Body Language

Here are some signs you might notice if your dog hears or smells a pest underground:

  • Alert
  • Barking
  • Digging
  • Listening
  • Sniffing

Other Signs

Here are some other signs that your pooch has seen a pest in your yard:<br/>

  • Chasing The Pest
  • Attempting To Catch The Animal
  • Circling The Animal'S Hole

History of Dogs and Pest Control


Historically, dogs have been a big part of farming and catching pests for years. According to scientists, dogs have been domesticated for over 10,000 years. Though, we’re not exactly sure when they started being used for farming, they have been a big part of it for many years. They’ve been used for herding animals, protection, and in some cases, getting rid of pests.

Several years ago, a rancher recounted watching a friend's dog catch ground squirrels around local orchards. As workers cared for the trees, he noticed the workers’ dog running along the ground sticking its head in the ground around the trees. It turns out that the dog was catching ground squirrels. 

The rancher was surprised but very excited to see that a dog could do this. Ground squirrels in the area were known for eating crops, and their holes in the ground were a huge danger for horses. If horses get their legs stuck in the holes, they can break their legs and die. He didn’t know the dog was even capable of catching, much less sensing the pests.

Science Behind Dogs Hearing or Smelling Pests


Scientifically, dogs senses are absolutely amazing. One of their strongest senses is their hearing. In fact, according to Service Dog Central, some studies have shown that dogs can hear frequencies twice as great as humans. They also go on to say that while humans can hear things about 20 feet away, dogs can hear things 80 feet away. So, it’s not far-fetched to think that a dog would be able to hear pests underground.

Dogs’ sense of smell also proves very useful for finding pests. Your pooch’s sense of smell is crazy-sensitive. According to Nova, dogs have “300 million olfactory sensors.” So, your pooch is more than able to smell pests underground.

Training Your Dog to Catch Pests


As far as training your dog to sense and catch pests, dogs love to hunt. So, some dogs may just go after pests without any training. However, if you’re serious about training your dog to hunt, there are a lot of different methods. 

It might be best to talk with an experienced dog owner who maybe works in the ranching or farming industry. Also, as mentioned before, some breeds of dog are better for catching pests. says while all dogs love to hunt, Terrier breeds might be the best at hearing the pests.

As far as safety goes, had some more great tips. While it isn’t bad to let your dogs catch pests, if you are using poison, your dog might come in contact with that and get sick. So, they mentioned potentially using traps instead of poison to catch pests.

Another thing to keep in mind is that animals in the rodent family, like moles, can carry rabies. So, if your dog catches a pest and starts acting strangely, it’s important to get your pooch to the vet ASAP to rule out any issues.

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Safety Tips When Dealing with Pests:

  1. Use traps instead of poison in case your dog catches a pest that's been poisoned.
  2. If your dog starts acting strangely after catching a pest, take your dog to the vet to be checked for rabies.
  3. Watch for holes or burrows in the ground that could potentially harm your animals.

Written by Katie Anderson

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 04/05/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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