Have you ever felt that your dog can actually understand what you say? Your skeptical friends might dismiss your suspicions, but there’s reason to believe that you’re right. Dogs have, for a long time, mystified everyone by their ability to sense exactly what their human is up to. To put us out of our suspense, research has come out with studies that show exactly how and what dogs can tell about us.
1. Dogs Know When You Have New Priorities
Just like a jealous older child, dogs too know when you have someone new in your life and everything doesn’t revolve around them anymore. If you’ve gotten into a new relationship and notice your dog trying to push away your new partner or act hostile toward them, it’s only because they feel jealous. For a dog, his owner is the most important thing in the world to him. When they don’t feel the same attention from you, they can get insecure and resentful. To calm down your jealous pooch, ensure you still spend at least 15 minutes a day alone with him. Try not to disrupt their schedule as dogs are creatures of habit and any disruptions can be stressful for them. Give your dog enough cuddles to let him know he’s still important to you and he’ll slowly become more accepting of the new changes.
2. Dogs Can Tell What Your Intentions Are
Have you been puzzled when your dog happily climbs into the car when you want to take him for a ride, but refuses to step foot into it when you plan on taking him to the vet? How can your dog, who loves to sleep in the bathroom otherwise, know when you’re giving him a shower and avoid the bathroom like the plague at that time? Studies have shown that dogs have the intelligence of roughly a 2-year-old. They can detect changes in body language and read your facial expressions to know exactly what you plan on doing. If you’re extra enthusiastic in trying to get your dog into the car for a visit to the vet, he’ll associate that body language the next time you try. If he sees you getting his towel and filling the bath, he immediately understands you’re about to give him a bath.
3. Dogs Can Understand When You’re Upset
Most owners notice that when they’re sad, their dogs become visibly upset too. Some dogs might lick their owner’s tears, some might cuddle nearby for comfort and others might get worked up and pace the room not knowing what to do. Some dogs have also been known to bring humans their favorite toys when they were sad, prompting a few researchers to speculate that dogs could feel empathy as well. One experiment noticed that dogs tended to approach people who were sad over those who weren’t. This behavior could be attributed to the pack nature of dogs which might have made them a lot more sensitive to the feelings of others.
4. Dogs Know When They’re Being Misled
It might not be as easy to trick a dog as you might have thought. In one study, a person pointed out to a container with food in the first round, an empty one in the second and a full one in the third. When the dogs realized that the person couldn’t be trusted to point out the container with food every time, they stopped following the cues given by the person. When a new person was brought out to repeat the experiment, the dogs trusted them until they realized that person was also unreliable. If you tried making your dog leave the room by throwing a treat outside the first time, your dog is likely not to fall for the same trick again because they know now not to trust your move.
5. They Understand When You’re Sick
Any owner who has had their dog maintain vigil by their bedside when they were sick, will swear that dogs can sense these things. Dogs have been known to become clingy and extra protective of their owners when they sense they’re unwell. Even more astonishing though, is that dogs are thought to be able to sniff out cancer. One study found that dogs were able to detect breast cancer with 88% accuracy and lung cancer with 99% accuracy. If your dog has been paying a lot of attention to a mole or bump on your body, it could be best to get yourself checked out.
6. They Might Realize When You’re Pregnant
A pregnant woman might be pretty easy to notice to a human, but a dog might be able to tell just as well too. Many pregnant women have reported that their dog started to shadow them and become extra protective during that period. Some dogs might also pay special attention to your baby bump by licking it and resting their head on it.
7. Dogs Can Sense Loss
Many dogs have been fabled to stand by their owner’s graves or become listless when a beloved family member passes away. Dogs have often been seen to howl when they’re grieving. For a dog, dealing with the death of a loved one can be just as hard on him as it is on you. Try to help him cope by ensuring he sticks to his routine so he feels more secure. Comfort your dog, but don’t give him leeway if he breaks any rules. Dogs respond to authority so while it may seem cruel to you to scold your grieving dog, it will give him a sense of stability. If your dog is mourning another pet in the household, introducing another animal into your family can throw his emotions into further jeopardy. Always wait till your dog has returned to normal again before you think of getting another pet.
8. They Know Who Your Enemies Are
Your loyal dog will often adopt your enemies as his own. When you are with someone you don’t like, your body releases chemicals into your brain which are associated with negative feelings. Your dog’s keen sense of smell can pick up on these changes and understand your feelings about that person. In this way, most dogs can tell the difference between a friend and an unwelcome guest. With people you like, they will be their playful, goofy self. But with someone you’re not on good terms with, your dog might be aloof or become protective of you.
9. Dogs Know If You’re Being Unfair- Sort Of
Dogs can tell if they have suffered a great injustice. If they performed a trick for you and got no reward in return, they become grouchy. If they perceive you treating another animal better than them, they can become jealous immediately. A dog’s sense of fairness can be traced back to their pack origins. All members in a pack are given their duties and if any member fails to do them, they are usually ostracized from the rest of the pack or left out of a meal. When a dog identifies you as his pack, he expects the same kind of fairness from you. In one study, when two dogs performed a trick successfully and only one dog was rewarded for it, the other became restless and unhappy. However, a dog doesn’t seem to be able to differentiate between different treats. A dog that was rewarded with bread exhibited no hurt feelings when the other dog was given bacon.
10. Dogs Sense Fear
A dog’s amazing sense of smell coupled with his ability to pick up on body language cues, allows him to detect immediately when you’re afraid. When you are afraid, your body releases adrenaline to push you into a state of fight or flight. Your dog can smell his hormone and can also notice your uneasy posture and nervousness. How your dog responds to your fear though depends entirely on his behavioral makeup. Natural guard dogs like German Shepherds and Rottweilers will immediately go into protective mode and will try to defend you. More nervous dogs might sense your fear and become scared themselves. Thus, if you want to stay calm, the best way is to lead by example.