10 Things Dogs Might Know Even Before We Do That Prove Underestimating Them Is a Huge Mistake
We’ve all heard before that “dogs are man’s best friend.” The saying has become a common belief that has transcended time and space, and there might be a reason for it. Dogs devote their undivided attention to their humans so much so that they end up adapting to them and getting to know their every behavior and mood. Thus, in addition to giving us moments of play and company, they have become our best allies and faithful accomplices in our adventures.
Bright Side acknowledges the noble and intelligent attributes of these animals, so we made a compilation of things that your furry friend can tell about you and even about others even before you even know it. Don’t miss the cute bonus at the end of the article.
1. They can tell the difference between people who are generous and those who aren’t.
A scientific study conducted by researchers at the University of Milan showed that dogs are actually able to sense whether a human is a generous person or not. As part of the experiment, the canines observed a few humans sharing their food with poor people, and others being rude to them.
The dogs’ response to the voice intonation made it more than clear that they can tell if you’re selfish or generous. In fact, most of the animals preferred to approach generous humans. The specialists described this perception of generosity that dogs have as a clear example of “their ability to interpret human social behavior.” It’s possible that they use these interpretations to tell whether a human will be cooperative or not in their intent.
2. They recognize your feelings for others, they love the same people you love and are wary of those you don’t like.
Scientific studies have shown that dogs have such an acute sense of smell that they can sniff out oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone” in humans. Because of this, it’s fairly easy for them to interpret changes in their masters’ behavior and breathing patterns, and they can even sense if human muscles tense up in a specific situation. They are also able to smell subtle pheromone changes in their owners.
In front of the person you like or hate, your dog already knows that you love them or hate them, so in front of them, they’ll act accordingly. That is to say, they will love who you love and will be aggressive with those you don’t like.
3. They already know where you went during the day.
You have probably noticed that, on more than one occasion, your dog won’t stop sniffing you when you come back home. The fact is that these animals have an incredibly well-developed sense of smell. This probably doesn’t come as a surprise since they needed it to hunt, locate themselves, communicate with each other, and recognize their environment. With 200 to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, dogs can “guess” if you were at a supermarket based on the smells of the food, at a friend’s house, at the park, or if you came into contact with other animals. They can do all this just by smelling you when you come back home!
4. They can even identify some human diseases.
As hard as this may be to believe, dogs can warn you that you are sick before you or your doctor even know it. Expert Alexandra Horowitz, director of the Laboratory of Dog Cognition, states that because “dogs are supernaturally sensitive to changes in their humans,” they can identify if a person is suffering from an infection.
Changes in human behavior, and even the smell given off by some diseases, are elements that dogs use to interpret and ultimately figure out that something is wrong with you. Moreover, according to Horowitz they wouldn’t just be able to foresee a flu, a cough, or a stomach infection, but some of them could actually even be able to warn people about diseases like cancer, diabetes, and psychiatric and neurological disorders.
5. They can perceive human moods.
Dogs have spent so many generations keeping humans company that they have learned to interpret people’s moods and to even be empathetic with us. Whether you’re experiencing happiness, sadness, or anger, dogs will know what to do to make you feel better.
A study conducted on dogs was aimed at experimenting with what their reactions would be to different human states of mind. The results confirmed that dogs have learned to interpret people’s moods and to be empathetic because they have learned to associate moods with body language, facial expressions, and tones of voice. “This means that dogs need to have an internal categorization system for emotional states,” the study elaborates.
In this sense, it should hardly come as a surprise that, when you are sad, your dog will approach you to give you the support you need. Also, it’s clear that he or she will play with you when you’re happy because they can tell you’re up for it.
6. They can tell when you are about to get home.
Dogs are habit-forming, associative behavioral animals according to what Alexandra Horowitz wrote in her book Being a Dog. This means, basically, that dogs love having a daily routine that they can associate with specific behaviors. Because of that, they can use small details as a reference. For instance, they’re able to use specific sounds or changes in light coming through the window to tell more or less if it’s time for you to come back home. They can also distinguish the sound of your footsteps from that of others, or the sound of your car’s beep or of the elevator. When they hear any of these, they’ll run to the window or door to greet you.
According to Horowitz, a dog’s sense of smell is also an important factor in anticipating their owners’ arrival. “It may be that the smells we leave in the house when we go out decrease by a steady amount throughout the day.” Dogs could be able to predict when we’re coming back home because of that: the less they can smell us, the closer the time will get to when we’ll come back.
7. They can detect fragility and the need for protection.
According to experts, this is because all dogs have a natural instinct to protect whatever they see as fragile or defenseless. Let’s not forget that dogs are governed by associative and imitative behaviors. This means that when a dog associates that a baby (or even any object or any other type of animal) must be cared for and treated with fragility, his or her behavior will most of the time be to take care of it.
Not only that, but sharing a home with dogs is actually beneficial to the health and immune system of our babies. In addition, being with a pet will elicit more positive and happy feelings. “When a dog is around, human babies grow up healthier, more protected, and generally happier,” says Caleb Blake, a pet health and wellness expert.
While the protective instinct of dogs is more developed in specific breeds, all canines are willing to put themselves at risk to keep their owner and their pack safe. It is because of this exact same protective behavior that dogs will defend you from anything that they notice causes you fear. When we are frightened, we generate a hormone called adrenaline. Dogs can smell that and they use it as an indicator to know when danger lurks.
8. They can tell if you are angry at them.
Hundreds of humans have seen how their pets acquire specific postures after being scolded. It’s almost as if they were feeling guilty for doing something they knew they shouldn’t do. After several attempts to demonstrate whether dogs are capable of experiencing guilt or something similar, researchers found out that when it comes to dogs, in particular, what they experience is a process of association. In other words, they simply learn to associate what we call “bad behavior” with scolding and yelling.
In fact, dogs can tell when you are angry at them, without distinguishing whether they behaved well or poorly. As a consequence of that particular skill, they have natural reactions that serve as a method of self-defense, and one of them is body language. For example, what we call “crying” or lowering their heads and sticking their tails in between their legs, and even isolating themselves as a sort of self-inflicted punishment.
9. They are able to distinguish intonations and commands.
Research conducted by Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest studied how dogs’ brains receive and interpret commands. Scientists found out that, similar to human brain activity, they use each hemisphere of their brain to analyze the commands they receive. “The left hemisphere of the brain is in charge of decoding the meaning of the words the dog’s hearing and the right hemisphere is responsible for interpreting the intonation with which the command was given,” says Attila Andics, lead author of the research.
Anna Gábor, a researcher and one of the authors of the study, pointed out that this brain capacity of dogs makes them animals that are capable of distinguishing the most common words/commands they receive. In this sense, you could say that most canines can tell the difference when your voice sounds angry or when it sounds happy and you’re congratulating them.
10. They also know when a loved one has passed away.
As mentioned earlier, dogs are animals that love having daily habits and routines. Not only that, but they are also among the most loyal and empathetic animals when it comes to humans. Therefore, when a loved one dies, dogs identify the loss and they may even experience grief. Although they are unable to understand the meaning of the event itself, they do experience the feeling of missing someone who will no longer be part of their daily life. This is because they use things like a change in their routine or the absence of the feelings that their owner provoked in them. The absence of these allows them to know that something has changed permanently.
A dog’s mourning may vary depending on what the relationship with its owner and with the deceased person was like. The animal’s character also plays an important part in their reaction. However, it has been proven that the way dogs experience sadness is very similar to the way we do. It’s just how that sadness is dealt with and its manifestations that change. Dogs, for example, may pant, bark, and show restlessness or anxiety. In a way, they simply show distress through unusual behavior, says Barbara J. King, an expert in animal cognition and emotion, and author of How Animals Grieve.
Bonus: They might also be able to tell whether you’re pregnant or not.
Can dogs tell that a human is pregnant? Even though there isn’t any conclusive study on the matter, experts suggest that they might be able to know that something’s going on. Hormonal changes in pregnant women produce a peculiar smell that dogs could easily perceive. In addition, they are very intuitive animals and can notice changes in the actions and routines of their humans, so they could perceive a pregnancy if their owners change their lifestyle, says Dennis Turner, from the Institute of Applied Ethology and Animal Psychology in Horgen, Switzerland.
On the other hand, dogs have a greater hearing capacity than humans, with the ability to hear between 47,000 and 65,000 hertz, while humans can only reach 20,000 hertz. They can also perceive sounds that are between −5 dB and −15 dB on average, which means that dogs can hear sounds that are not loud enough for our ears. This could imply that our beloved furry friends also have the ability to hear the heartbeat of a fetus before we even know something’s up.
What does your dog do that tells you he or she might actually know more than what you thought at first? Do you have any pictures or anecdotes to share with us proving that dogs are smarter than we think?