4 min read


Can Dogs Smell Emotions?



4 min read


Can Dogs Smell Emotions?


Humans are a very emotional species and there are many different emotions that we go through on a daily basis. Sometimes these are positive emotions such as happiness or excitement, whereas other times they are negative ones such as sadness, anger, or frustration. 

Generally, other people tend to pick up on our emotions simply from the way we behave and act around them. However, what about your dog? Can dogs pick up on emotions simply from their sense of smell? Well, they do say that dogs can smell fear but it seems that they can also smell our other emotions according to recent studies. 


Signs Your Dog can Smell Your Emotions

According to research, dogs can not only smell emotions, but the way we are feeling can rub off on them too. In other words, when they smell our emotions it can make them feel the same way as well. We know that dogs have extremely sensitive noses and an excellent sense of smell. They are used in many industries as a result of this heightened sense and they are even able to use their sense of smell to pick up on illnesses and medical conditions. Their ability to smell our emotions means that they will often feel a certain way simply because of the emotion they sense from their owners.

There are various signs that your dog can smell your emotions and the way in which they behave will depend on the emotion that they pick up on. For instance, if your dog senses that you are excited or happy it may run around, bark excitedly, wag its tail, and jump up. If it picks up on negative emotions, it may paw tap at you, whine, lie down with its head resting on its paws, or even hide. Dogs are very sensitive to human emotions and the way we feel and act can have a huge impact on our pooches.

Depending on the emotion your dog picks up on through its sense of smell, its body language can alter dramatically. When it senses a positive emotion, it will act positively itself by doing things such as jumping up, acting excited, running around, and barking. When it picks up on negative emotions, some of the body language may include pawing at you, snuggling up to you, licking you, lying down next to you, or behaving in a very subdued manner. The body language that your dog displays will essentially mirror the way you are feeling and the emotion your pet picks up on.

Body Language

<p>Signs to watch for if your dog is smelling your emotions include:</p>

  • Barking
  • Whining
  • Jumping Up
  • Running
  • Licking

Other Signs

Other cues you should watch for are:

  • Acting Inquisitive
  • Faster Heart Rate
  • Snuggling Up To You
  • Pawing At You
  • Subdued Behavior

History of Dogs Smelling Emotions


Over the centuries, dogs have gone from being working animals used in many different industries to household pets that are part of the family. Various studies have been carried out over the years into canine behavior, and the fact that our dogs are now treated as family members means that their bond with humans is stronger than ever. 

This makes it easier for them to pick up on emotions and because they are loyal to their family they will react accordingly. So, when you are sad or upset, your dog will react in the same way. When you are happy and joyful, your dog may also display signs of joy and excitement.

Historical research has shown just how amazing a dog’s sense of smell is, and this has certainly been proven in many ways. The ability to smell emotion is just one of the ways in which our four-legged friends are able to put their sense of smell into action and they do so admirably. According to experts that have studied canine behavior for years, the reactions of dogs are generally in line with the emotions that they pick up from their owner as a result of their sense of smell. 

The Science Behind Dogs Smelling Emotion


One study that was carried out last year involved showing two distinctly different movies to dog owners along with their pets. With the horror movie, the responses of the pets were in line with the emotions of their owners. 

The same was noted with a second group of pet owners with their dogs, but this time it was a children’s movie that resulted in very different emotions from the owners. During the first movie, pet owners felt fear and other negative emotions associated with frightening movies. With the second, the owners were far more positive and happy because of the nature of the movie.    

Learning How Your Dog Responds to Emotions


As you can see, our pooches are extremely adept at picking up on our emotions. If you want to determine how your dog reacts to your emotions, you need to carefully monitor the way it acts and its body language when you are experiencing different emotions. 

If you are feeling sad or depressed one day, see whether your dog acts differently toward you than normal. If you are feeling happy and excited, again look at the way in which your dog reacts and whether its responses are in line with the way you feel at the time.

Of course, you should bear in mind what the experts say about dogs not only being able to smell emotions but also experiencing the same ones. With this in mind, you should avoid making yourself come across as feeling negative all the time just to see what your dog’s reactions are. 

In addition, faking emotions is not always an effective means of seeing how your pooch will react because they can sense your true emotions on a deeper level than you may think. We all experience different emotions on a daily basis, and if you are around your dog when you are feeling certain emotions you simply need to see what it does and how it acts around you at that time.

Another thing to remember is that when you are feeling particular emotions such as anger or excitement, your own tone and behavior changes. This is something else that your dog will pick up on and most tend to react accordingly. When you are laughing, your dog senses that you are happy whereas your tone when you are angry will be completely different, which your pooch will also pick up on. 

If you are crying and upset, your dog may come up to you and try and placate you with cuddles or by licking your hands and face. These are all common reactions from our pet pooches. 

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By a Boston Terrier lover Reno Charlton

Published: 04/20/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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