What Can Dogs Sense About Us?

March 30, 2015

By Linda Cole

Because dogs are social animals, it’s not surprising how connected they are with the people they love. Most dogs are more than willing to protect us from any foe, and we rely on their extraordinary sense of smell and hearing in many ways. However, there are some amazing things dogs can sense about us. Just by paying attention, our dogs can figure out what’s on our mind.

Dogs Can Sense Sadness

Research on how dogs interpret our moods suggests that our canine friends may be capable of feeling empathy in their own unique way when it comes to knowing when you’re feeling sad. In a recent study, scientists found that dogs are more apt to approach someone crying in an effort to comfort them regardless of whether it was someone they knew or a stranger. Humming and talking didn’t garner the same behavior from the dogs in the study. They would try to console the crying person by licking their hands or face, and some took toys to the person to try and cheer them up.

Dogs Can Sense Anger

The “guilty look” on a dog’s face when he’s caught misbehaving isn’t what it seems. He’s just reacting to your angry words and body language. To help defuse a situation and calm you down, the guilty look is his way of saying “I don’t know why you’re upset, but I’m being submissive to help you feel better.” Dogs aren’t capable of feeling guilt, which is why it’s wrong to punish them for doing something they see as natural behavior.

Dogs Know When You’re Scared
A dog’s sense of smell is so strong he can detect subtle changes in our body odor when we’re scared. They watch our body language and react to our behavior when confronted with a fearful situation. If you are afraid of a thunderstorm, your dog is likely to pick up on your fear and show fearful behavior as well.

Dogs Can Figure Out Your Intentions

No matter how coy you try to be, your dog seems to know what’s on your mind. Canines are so good at reading body language and following our gaze, they can figure out just by observing our behavior when it’s time for a walk, bath, nail trim, medication or a trip to the vet.

Dogs Can Sense a Change in Priorities

A new job, new partner, baby, hobby or another pet can change your pet’s normal routine and divert your attention from him. It’s important to let your dog know he is loved and try your hardest to maintain his normal routine to prevent your pet from feeling jealous or left out. You are the most important part of your dog’s life and his bond should be equally important to you.

Dogs Understand Fairness

When you reward your dogs with their favorite CANIDAE treat, make sure each one gets his fair share. Our four legged buddies pay attention and have a canine sense of justice when it comes to being treated fairly. A study found that a dog’s sense of fairness is fulfilled regardless of whether the reward is a small piece of bread or a large tasty treat.

Dogs Know When You Aren’t Paying Attention

No matter how well you think your dog is trained to leave food alone, he knows the minute you turn your back. Most canines resist stealing food when someone is watching. However, resisting an unguarded Thanksgiving dinner on the table is fair game – from a dog’s point of view.

Your dog understands you more than you may realize. He can pick up on subtle signals you send when you’re around someone you don’t like. Your dog understands when you aren’t feeling well and can smell certain diseases and medical conditions. And he knows if you are willing to take the lead role. He watches you to gather information about your personality and what he can expect. Using nothing more than observations, your dog can figure out what’s on your mind – that’s a pretty remarkable talent when you think about it!

Top photo by Günter Hentschel/Flickr
Bottom photo by Taro the Shiba Inu/Flickr

Read more articles by Linda Cole

Share this: