Dogs are known not only for their sense of smell but also for their sense of hearing. Most owners know that their dogs can hear almost anything, especially when it relates to food or any of their other favorite things. It seems like our woofers can appear out of nowhere the second we open a bag of chips or crack the fridge, or teleport all the way across the house when they hear their leash jangle. When it comes to pet-pets, food or anything else, our dog's hearing seems almost supernatural!
But our dogs can hear even better than we think they can. Doggos actually have a range of hearing that's two times better than ours, and in regards to range, they can hear four times better than us!
As a result, there are things that doggos can hear that we will never be able to. So, because dogs can hear things that we can't, there are definitely sounds, including ringtones, that only our pooches can hear!
Signs Your Dog Can Hear Something You Can't
There are certain signs your dog will show when they're hearing or listening to something that you can't hear. Additionally, there are also certain behaviors your dog will exhibit if there's a sound that they can hear, that you can't, like a ringtone or something else, that bothers them. Keep an eye out for both, so when you notice your dog feeling distressed or uncomfortable, you can shut off the ringtone or sound that's hurting their little puppy ears!
You can usually tell when a dog is listening to something you can't hear because they seem to be staring at something, or at least looking off in a certain direction, that doesn't seem to have anything worth paying attention to. They may even bark, which can make it seem like they're staring or barking at absolutely nothing! Don't worry, neither you nor your dog is going nuts, they probably just hear something that you don't!
Other things you may notice are things like cocking their head to one side, or perking their ears forward or backward. The purpose of this is not only to hear something better, but also to figure out where exactly a sound is coming from. Dogs that have more flexible ears may even swivel them around, but that depends on what type of breed your pupper is.
Along with their ears being forward, they are going to be relatively alert as well. Alertness in pups looks differently depending on what type of breed your dog is, and how they've been raised. Normally though, most doggos that are alert stand relatively still, so that they will be able to hear things better. Their ears will also be pointed forward, and may even be twitching. Just as they're trying to hear things better, they're also trying to see things better, so their eyes will be wide, open, and paying attention, while their mouth will be closed.
Some noises are made particularly for only dogs to hear and pay attention too, like a dog whistle or a ringtone. If your dog doesn't like this noise, they're still probably going to act alert, since they probably won't know where it's coming from. They may also cry or whine since they want you to know that the sound is bothering them.
Lastly, some dogs when they hear things that bother them will try to cover their ears or run away from the sound. So, if you notice your dog acting uncomfortable or upset, it's probably because the noise or pitch is too loud or high, and it's bothering their sensitive ears! Just like us, some sounds are going to bother our woofers, so it's best to avoid them when we can.
The History Behind Dogs Hearing Things We Can't
In regards to hearing in general, doggos evolved from their wolf-ancestors thousands of years ago. As a result, they still have many of the genes that wolves do.
For one thing, doggos and wolves historically had to hunt small things, like rodents, mice, bunnies, squirrels, and other things in their wood habitats. These animals are relatively small and super quiet, so in order to be able to eat, canines needed to be able to hear them. As a result, they had to evolve to have great senses of hearing.
As for ringtones and whistles specifically, dog whistles were invented in 1896 by a scientist who wanted to understand the hearing and listening frequencies that dogs and other animals can hear that we can't. They've been used throughout the years for training purposes, especially for police and military purposes.
Additionally, because dogs don't like the sounds, they've been used in the past to curb negative habits. For example, some owners will use them when their dog barks so that they learn that barking is associated with the sound that hurts their ears. Since then, people have even invented ringtones that only dogs can hear, playing sounds at a high frequency that we can't pick up on!
The Science Behind Dog's Hearing
Scientists are dog lovers too, so there have been hundreds of studies done in relation to our doggo's hearing, how it works, and why it's so much better than ours.
First off, you'll notice the physical nature of dog's ears vs. ours. While ours lay flat against our head and are rather small, doggos usually have pretty large ears (especially in relation to the size of their heads!) that are really flexible. As a result, they're able to hear better than we can, and have a greater general area by which to hear sounds with!
In terms of hearing, dogs can hear twice as well as we can. Additionally, their frequency range is also greater. According to many studies, "dogs hear a frequency range of 40 to 60,000 Hz while human range is between 20 and 20,000 Hz." Essentially, dogs can hear better and farther than we can, so it's no wonder that they hear sounds that we can't!
Training Your Dog to Hear Things
You can't really train your dog to hear better, but you can use dog whistles as a way to train your pooch. While many owners don't like to do this because the sound of a whistle or ringtone can hurt their dog's ears, others use things like dog whistles as a last resort for deterring negative behaviors.
For example, you can use a dog whistle whenever your dog barks, jumps up, or goes on the counter. Because your dog doesn't like the sound, if you blow a whistle right after they do something you don't like, they'll begin to associate the noise with the behavior, and try to avoid it whenever they can.
There are other ways to teach your dog not to do bad things that involve negative reinforcement. For example, you can give them treats whenever they do something that you do like, or direct their destructive behavior elsewhere.
You can also make sure that your dog's hearing stays good throughout their whole lives. Avoid bringing them places where there are going to be loud, startling noises, like concerts or fireworks shows. These sounds are likely to hurt your dog's ears, and may even scare them as well! So it's best to avoid them when you can.
By Katherine McCormick
Published: 04/27/2018, edited: 04/06/2020