Most of the time, people want to keep themselves, and their puppy counterparts, away from creepy-crawlies like spiders. Spiders, even when you're keeping them as a pet, can pose dangerous threats to you and your doggo if they're venomous - and even if they're not.
A spider bite runs the risk of getting infected and causing your pooch (or you) serious injuries. That being said, it would probably be helpful if you could know where spiders were in the wild, when they were approaching, and if you were going to stumble on one in your home before you actually stumble upon - or into - one.
Luckily, your dog can probably help you out with that. Your pup, with his or her amazing sense of smell and hearing, can likely sense a spider's presence long before you're aware of it. To get a better idea of how your dog might be telling you he or she is sensing a spider, what signs to look for, and how to train your dog to detect spiders, read on!
Signs Your Dog is Sensing a Spider
We can't exactly say without a doubt that dogs can sense spiders 10 times out of 10, but it's likely that due to the sounds and smells that spiders give off, your dog is going to be much more aware to a spider's presence than you are. If your pup is trying to alert you to a spider's presence, it's likely they're going to do their best to communicate this to you in the best way they know how - you'll need to be well-versed in how to understand these signs.
If your dog is trying to alert you to a spider, they might give signs of pointing - this includes stiff tails, paws up, and nose and ears facing a specific direction (the direction the smell or sound is coming from). You can probably expect your dog to run up to where the spider is and paw excessively.
He or she might sprint toward the spider, jump around excitedly, attempt to toy with the spider, and even try to sniff or lick the spider (which, we hope you're able to train them to avoid doing, a process we'll go into in a bit). It's also possible your dog will get aggressive and howl, bite, nip, or growl at the spider.
History of Dogs and Spiders
Dogs and spiders have been dealing with each other since their individual creations. Both dogs and spiders are wild animals that have been somewhat domesticated but are still found in the wilderness, meaning they've been learning how to co-exist for thousands of years.
Dogs and spiders operate on a food-chain system. While dogs, who are bigger and more capable of killing spiders, might not hunt spiders, they're more likely to let their curiosity get the best of them and try to eat a spider.
Spiders, on the other hand, are equipped with venomous tendrils, can bite, and can kill giant dogs with a release of their venom. Dogs and spiders, typically, do not get along. That being said, with an influx of spiders as pets, people have been keeping dogs and spiders under the same roof in controlled environments for decades.
The Science of Dogs Sensing Spiders
The reason that many dogs are able to sense spiders is because of the odor that a spider gives off. Though subtle, pups are able to sense a spider's scent due to their 300 million smell receptors, large olfactory cortex, and airway passage direction capabilities. Spiders typically give off a slight chemical release that allows pups to pick up on their scent. They do this to bait other animals, use them as pheromones, and to ward off predators.
Training Your Dog to Sense Spiders
If you have a nose-gifted pup who listens well, is incredibly obedient, and wants nothing more than to please you, it's possible that your doggo is the perfect candidate for a spider-detecting pup. While it's not a guarantee that your dog is going to be able to sniff out every spider, you can take a few steps to attempt to train he or she to do so.
First, see if you can work with a professional to help you train your pup to the best of his or her ability. Then, you'll want to work with your dog on associating a certain scent (a spider scent) with a specific toy. Rub the toy with spider scent and have your dog play with the toy. Build the link between the toy and the scent.
Begin hiding the scented toy in places, then, when your dog finds and returns it to you, reward them with tons of playtime for their accomplishments with that toy. Gradually, stop hiding the toy with the scent. When your dog can pick up on the scent and alert you to it without the toy, reward your pup with the toy, treats, and lots of affection. Ensure your dog can do this consistently
By a Great Dane lover Hanna Marcus
Published: 06/19/2018, edited: 04/06/2020