Our dogs can be so intuitive that it’s almost like they have a sixth sense. But while you may wonder whether they have the supernatural gift of prediction, it’s more likely that their keen five senses give them their remarkable abilities.
A dog’s ears can hear four times (or more!) better than a human’s, while their noses are up to tens of thousands of times better than ours. In addition, they’re incredibly in-tune with their environments and their favorite people, so it’s really no wonder that they can detect certain shifts and changes before we humans can.
There our so many reasons are dogs amaze us, and below are 5 incredible things that they can often sense before they happen.
- Natural Disasters
There are stories dating back centuries of dogs fleeing areas just before natural disasters, like earthquakes, tornadoes, and tsunamis, have hit. From the earthquake that shook the Greek city of Helice in 373 B.C. to the massive tsunami that devastated Sri Lanka and India in 2004, our pups (as well as other animals) have been credited to perceiving such disasters before they actually happened.
It’s tough to get science to back this up — after all, how would you replicate these sorts of events in a controlled setting? — but many of the pup parents reading this would trust the instincts of their intuitive pals, like if they started acting panicked or heading toward higher ground.
It’s thought that our dogs’ fine-tuned senses can pick up on atmospheric changes long before we humans can. It’s possible that they can feel subtle vibrations, smell changes in weather, and hear the rumblings of distant thunder or even movement beneath the ground; all before the storm is close enough for us to know it’s coming.
Adding to the point above, our pups are very in-tune with the weather, even if it’s just a summer rainstorm… and especially if they’re afraid of thunder!
According to Cesar’s Way, our dogs can easily detect “the drop in barometric pressure and the shift in the static electric field that comes prior to climate changes” even before the rain starts to fall. Fearful dogs may become anxious or even head for the “shelter” of their favorite bed or corner in anticipation of the storm.
- When There’s a Baby on the Way
Dogs can usually tell when their human moms are pregnant for a number of reasons. Whether they realize that there’s a human sibling on the way is unclear, but they can definitely tell that something’s going on!
Aside from physical changes like a growing belly and differences in movements and stride, dogs can smell changes in a woman’s hormones, and have even been known to act anxious just before she goes into labor. Some people even swear that their pup knew that they were pregnant before they did!
- When You’re About to Come Home
Is your pooch always waiting for you the second you walk through the door?
According to NC State University, your pup picks up on cues that alert them to your arrival. For instance, they’ve probably learned that the sound of a car pulling into the driveway — perhaps, followed by the slam of a door — means that you’re about to walk in. And while they may not be able to read a clock, our loyal creatures of habit may be used to us coming home every day at a certain time. It’s part of their schedule… after all, they seem to have their mealtimes down-pat, right?
- Medical Conditions
You’re probably well aware that many dogs are “employed” to help sense medical conditions like diabetes, seizures, and have even been known to sniff out cancer. But how do they know?
Oftentimes, it’s all in their noses. Former vet tech and writer Dina Fantegrossi explains how dogs can sense blood sugar changes in their humans:
“Scientists have discovered that what [dogs] are detecting in a hypoglycemic episode is isoprene, a common natural chemical found in human breath that rises significantly as blood sugar plummets. “
What’s more, their incredible noses can also sniff out cancer cells, which give off a different scent than healthy cells. When dogs are trained how to identify and differentiate these smells, they can alert people before the sickness spreads.
As for detecting oncoming seizures? Scientists aren’t quite sure. It could be that our pups pick up on scents or changes in behavior just before or just after the episodes are in progress, and perhaps they get better at noticing these signs the more they get to know their owners. Their worlds revolve us, after all; they can sense subtle changes without us even realizing them!
- An Altercation with an Ill-Intentioned Person
There are some pup parents who swear that their companions have alerted them of “bad” people, thus helping them avoid a potentially dangerous situation.
As it turns out, these stories are likely true, especially coming from people who are closely bonded with their dogs. Former groomer and writer Jennifer Nelson explains:
“There are several possible explanations for this. The leading theory is that dogs use their keen sense of smell to sniff out chemical changes in the pheromones that people emit that would indicate that they have bad intentions… When a person is acting aggressively, their brain chemistry changes in a way that dogs can smell, causing them to react to a potential threat before their human has perceived the threat.”
She goes on to say that a dog’s alertness or protectiveness may also be a response to their human’s increased heart rate and anxiety, which they can sense. Or, perhaps dogs do have a sixth sense and are more likely to trust their intuition than us logically-minded people.
Most dogs are very protective of their people, so their first instinct when something scary happens may be to make sure their humans stay safe. Plus, many pups stay extra-alert when accompanying their humans through new environments or around strange people.