5 min read


What Can Dogs Sense About You?



5 min read


What Can Dogs Sense About You?


Do you ever feel like your dog has a sixth sense? Once your bond with your dog is strong and loving, you will feel like you are on the same wavelength. When you're sad, your dog is there for you. When you get home, your dog knows you're his owner and is genuinely excited to see you. 

Dogs often seem to notice when someone is uncomfortable and fearful. How do they know that? When your dog eats the pizza off the counter, does he really know he has done something wrong and that you're upset? So, just what can a dog sense about you?


Signs of a Dog Sensing Something About You

Dogs seem to have a special ability to sense things that are not overtly obvious to humans. They actually don't have a sixth sense. Instead, they use their five senses in ways that really help them to progress. Dogs have an especially keen sense of smell and they are talented at reading body language and facial expressions. 

When dogs notice you crying, an emotional reaction is triggered for them. They are more likely to approach a crying person than a person just humming along without a fuss. Even if the person is not their owner, a dog will attempt to provide comfort in most situations. When a dog is approaching a crying person, he does so in a calm way with his head and his tail down. By appearing non-threatening, he can help calm you down. A dog comforting you will likely lean into you or put his head on you in a calm way. 

Arriving home from a long day, your dog is likely to excitedly meet you at the door to welcome you home. Tail-wagging, jumping up, and even barking are ways that your dog shows you how excited he is to see you. But how does your dog know it's you? 

Your dog spends a lot of time gazing at you. He memorizes your facial expressions and your mannerisms. When he sees you, he could recognize that face anywhere. A dog is less likely to recognize his owner when his owner is wearing something covering his face. When you are with a group of people, your dog would rather look at you than anyone else. 

If you bring a new friend to meet your dog, your dog will respond depending on his mood. If your friend is fearful, your dog may be able to sense that anxiety and will respond appropriately depending on his breed and personality. Dogs can tell when someone is fearful by reading their facial expressions and using their powerful sense of smell.

Body Language

Here are some signs you might notice when your dog is sensing something about you:

  • Staring
  • Alert
  • Barking
  • Whining
  • Jumping Up
  • Wag Tail

Other Signs

Here are some other signs you might notice if your dog is sensing something about you:

  • Licking
  • More Sniffing Than Usual
  • Upright Posture

History of Dogs Sensing Things


Over 15,000 years ago, something beautiful happened. Man and wolf united to form a bond that would last for centuries to come. The dogs we cuddle and love today are quite different than the wolves they evolved from. However, they have retained many traits that have helped them survive and progress all these years. 

Wolves worked their way into the hearts of humans by helping them hunt and providing protection to the group. In return, humans fed their wolves leftovers and gave them shelter. This partnership led to progress for both parties. They also gained a new form of family. Over time, wolves began looking and acting more like the dogs we know and love today. The thousands of years of evolution got us to the point where we have more breeds than we can count. 

Some breeds have different sensing abilities than others. Some have a stronger ability to sense things and some are less intuitive. Still, most dogs have a special set of skills that help them learn how to be successful and fruitful in life. They use their sense of smell and their powerful ability to read body language and facial expressions in order to better love the humans that love them. These abilities are some of the evolutionary traits that remained as wolves evolved into dogs. 

The Science of Dogs Sensing Things


Dogs have many wonderful abilities that help them sense things about humans and the world around them. Dogs can tell when we are both happy or sad. They can detect the rise and fall of different brain chemicals that make us feel good such as oxytocin, which produces feelings of happiness and love. When our oxytocin levels are high, we feel happier and our dogs can sense this. When we get sick or we are in a dark spot, our dogs notice this drop in mood and act accordingly. Most dog breeds become more accommodating to their humans who may be under the weather. 

When we are sad, cuddling dogs can be a huge help. When dogs and humans cuddle, both beings are producing oxytocin. This can elevate the mood of the humans they are cuddling. 

Dogs also have a powerful sense of smell which allows them to sense things that humans cannot. Humans have about 6 million olfactory receptors which help our noses smell up to 1 trillion smells. Dogs, on the other hand, have a much stronger ability to sniff out specific scents. They have about 600 million olfactory receptors, which explains why their noses are always wet. This moistness helps them pick up and collect more smells.

How to Train Dogs to Sense Things


Dogs are very intuitive animals. Some dogs have more intellect than others, but all dogs benefit from training. Training dogs helps to exercise their minds. The intellectual stimulation that happens when learning new things applies to both humans and dogs. The more we learn, the more we know! 

Training also increases the bond between owner and dog. Doing activities together means you'll have more happy memories with your dog. The success that comes after consistent training is rewarding for both the dog and his owner. 

Some dogs are very treat-motivated. For these dogs, training can be accomplished when providing treats as rewards for good behaviors. Be sure to sometimes replace treats with praise. That way, your dog will know that he should follow commands even if he is not hungry. Many dogs who are trained with treats alone will disobey their owners when they are not hungry. They are not in the mood for treats, which makes them not in the mood to follow your commands all of the time, especially if they find something much more interesting. 

If your dog is not treat-motivated, have no fear. You can start by getting your dog yummier treats, as it's possible he will respond well to treats that are especially tasty. If your dog just doesn't want treats and needs a more structured environment, there are a few things you can do train him to sense new things. 

Be sure to decrease the distractions that may come up, this will help your dog have more focus. You can use play and positive praise as a reward instead of treats. Providing regular and consistent practice, dogs can learn to perform specific tasks for humans. For examples, service dogs can be trained to sense very specific things. They can even be trained to sense when an epileptic person is about to have a seizure. 

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Written by a Corgi lover Simone DeAngelis

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 02/15/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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