How Do Dogs Sense Approaching Storms?

July 23, 2015

dog storms ttarasiukBy Langley Cornwell

Where I live, we have short thunderstorms almost every afternoon in the summer. I used to like these storms because they cooled things down a bit, but one of our dogs has recently become a master weatherman, sensing approaching storms long before we see evidence. Unfortunately for him, he dislikes the thunder. And because he senses its approach, his misery is long-lasting. For his sake, I wish he wasn’t so keen to oncoming inclement weather. I also began to wonder, how in the world does he know in advance when a storm is rolling in anyway?

We provide our dogs with love, companionship and shelter, and feed them healthy food like CANIDAE. We spend lots of time with them but even so, sometimes dogs do things that make us wonder. Some dogs dig the carpet before lying down, some herd children, and some even terrorize mailmen. But dogs also do amazing things like saving their humans from fires, protecting their homes and predicting the weather.

While you can’t ask your dog how bad a storm is going to be, if you get to know your pup you will be able to tell when a storm is coming, just by observing their behavior. Dogs know when it’s time to batten down the hatches, and will often herd the family to where they can keep an eye on you while they pace agitatedly. How do dogs know a storm is approaching long before the clouds appear, the rain falls and the thunder rolls?

While we love to think of our dogs as simply amazing and being in possession of “sixth sense” abilities, the simple fact is that science is the reason dogs are able to sense storms. There are basically three ways in which a dog knows that a storm is approaching.

Barometric Pressure

When the barometric pressure changes and static electricity differs, it is often a sign that a tornado, hurricane or thunderstorm is on the horizon. Dogs feel these changes and will often not only warn the family by trying to herd them into one area but also seek shelter in a small confined space themselves. This is what our dog does. And when he decides it is time to hunker down in the bathtub or behind the toilet, we pay attention. Even when we can’t see a cloud in the sky, he lets us know a storm is on the horizon.

Sense of Smelldog storms randy

Just as humans can smell the air and detect rain when it’s close by, dogs have amazing noses so they can smell rain from a longer distance. The smell of ozone in the air from lightening and the way other scents hang in the humidity before a storm are all signals to your dog that something is on the way. Whether it is just rain or a big storm, because of his keen sense of smell, your dog knows well before you do.

Amazing Ears

You wouldn’t know it by the way your dog ignores your command to stop digging or continues to plow madly through the flowerbed without pause, but canine hearing is about 20 times more sensitive than human hearing. So while you can’t hear thunder until it gets close by, your dog not only hears but feels the vibrations long before you do. This is also why loud thunder bothers some dogs when the storm is approaching. That’s a lot of noise, and they’ve been hearing and feeling it for a while.

With such sensitive senses and a basic “animal instinct” born of years of evolution, dogs know when the weather is changing, they prepare for it and they try to warn their people. So while you may see a nice sunny afternoon, your dog knows if the sunshine will be cut off by dark clouds, pouring rain and rumbling thunder. Pay attention and before you know it you’ll be like us, looking to your pup instead of the weatherman to prepare for oncoming storms.

Top photo by ttarasiuk/Flickr
Bottom photo by Randy Robertson/Flickr

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell

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