Can Dogs Smell Deception?

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Introduction

Have you ever lied to your dog? Maybe you haven't flat out lied, but have you tried to outsmart them? Did they notice or stay blissfully ignorant? 

It is interesting to wonder if our pooches know when we aren't being totally honest with them. There are a lot of questions about this topic, but one possible answer is that your dog can actually smell deception. Wait… really? Yes, really, but it might not be in the way you had imagined.

Signs Your Dog Might Be Smelling Deception

There are a few things you might notice if your dog is smelling something. The first is very obvious, as you'll probably notice them sniffing away. Dogs use smell to understand almost everything, so this isn't a huge surprise. You also might notice them being alert and putting their ears up if there is a sound associated with a smell, and they might even start howling or barking if they are interested in the new smell.

So, what if your dog is interested in the new smell? They might start pacing if they are stuck inside and they want to investigate. They also might try to chase the new smell. If you’re inside, it’s important to keep your dog from running outside and getting out of your yard. If you’re out walking, your dog might also try to get away. So, it’s important to keep them secured on a leash. If you don’t, they could get away and get hurt or killed.  

Body Language

Here are a few signs you might notice if your pup smells something new:
  • Alert
  • Barking
  • Howling
  • Sniffing
  • Ears up

Other Signs

Here are some other signs you might notice if your pup is interested in the new smell:
  • Pacing
  • Chasing the new smell
  • Running away

History of Dogs and Deception

Deception has played a huge part in human history. Deception has been used to do everything from starting wars all the way down to simply taking your sister’s candy. It’s something that, unfortunately, is used heavily. 

You might be surprised to know that dogs use deception as well. Some dog experts have mentioned that dogs really can’t lie, but that doesn’t always seem to be the case.

In one news article, a dog owner observed one of her dogs tricking the other by pretending there was something interesting going on outside. When the dog got up from his bed to look outside, the other pup took over the dog’s bed. So, deception is not just reserved for humans - animals use it too.

Science Behind Dogs and Deception

As far as the science behind dogs and sensing deception goes, our best guess is that they are able to smell deception. This doesn’t mean deception has a scent per se (and it might to a dog, we don’t know), but things about a human might tip a dog off that the person is lying. 

For example, a dog can smell everything about you from maybe what you ate earlier to chemical changes in your body. So, if you started to sweat because you’re nervous, your pup could probably smell that. So, if you have physical reactions to lying, your dog will probably be able to smell those changes. They may not know what they mean, though.

Dogs are also fantastic at studying routines. So, if you break your usual habits or routines, your pup might pick up on that, as well. Again, your dog might not know what the cues mean, but they’ll probably notice a difference.

Training Your Dog to Smell Deception

As far as training your dog to smell deception, dogs can be trained to do a variety of amazing things. They can be trained to sniff out everything from chocolate in suitcases returning from Europe to dead bodies in swamps. So, in theory, could a dog be trained to smell deception? Maybe, but it's probably not something you can easily do at home. It sounds like something you would have to hire or get the help from a professional dog trainer for, if it’s even possible.

So, at the end of the day, can dogs sense deception? They might be able to sense changes in you that indicate deception, but they probably are not able to put two and two together. We really won’t know until more research is done.