By Linda Cole
One reason people pick a specific dog breed is for home protection. Dogs bred as livestock guardians, like the German Shepherd or Anatolian Shepherd, have a natural instinct to protect their flock and family. Guardian dogs and breeds used as guard dogs tend to have a natural distrust of strangers. But being able to sense if someone is untrustworthy is something completely different. Do dogs have a sort of sixth sense about people?
My first dog was an American Eskimo named Jack. I took him with me pretty much everywhere I went and he was exposed to a lot of different people. Most of the time, Jack enjoyed being around other humans, but there were times he refused to allow someone to pet him, even though I saw nothing out of the ordinary from the people he pulled away from. However, his reaction to someone was something I noted because it was unusual behavior for him.
We know dogs can sense danger when it comes to certain health conditions. Trained medical dogs can smell changes in blood sugar levels. Dogs are trained to detect high blood pressure, a potential heart attack or an impending seizure, and they can smell different types of cancer. Even untrained dogs can pick up changes in our health. That has nothing to do with a sixth sense, but it does show how sensitive a dog’s sense of smell is. Scientific studies have shown that even humans can smell pheromones put out by other people which can give us signals about someone’s mood. If we can pick up someone’s pheromones, you know a dog has already processed that information.