Do you ever feel like your dog is reading your mind? Or that they can tell when you’re stressed or sad, and make it a point to come cuddle with you? Have you been told by a family member that your dog was already getting excited several minutes before you even got home? There are numerous such stories of dog behaviors that owners attribute to “psychic” abilities, although there obviously hasn’t been much (or any) proof to substantiate those claims. However, dogs are actually known for having a few pretty concrete examples of what you could technically consider “psychic” tendencies. Keep the following list in mind the next time your dog is desperately trying to tell you something:
1. Anticipating Earthquakes – All over the world and all throughout history, there have been written accounts by human beings that observed massive evacuations of dogs right before a tragic earthquake. In 323 BC, historians in the ancient Greek city of Helice witnessed a peculiar mass pilgrimage of all types of animals – dogs, rats, weasels, snakes, etc – just a few days before an extremely devastating earthquake struck. It is a fact that most animals have more keen senses than we humans do, which enable them to hear, smell, and see in ways that we cannot. Can they feel things that we can’t feel as well? It certainly seems that way, and there are several different scientific theories for the phenomenon, one of them being that certain animals have such great hearing that they can hear the rocks and crust of the Earth crumbling underground before the earthquake. Other scientists propose that maybe these animals can feel a difference in electric charges, seismic waves, or electromagnetic fluctuations that humans can’t detect without machinery and computer programs. Here’s an article by Gizmodo that goes into more scientific reasoning. Regardless, if your animal is acting erratically for seemingly no reason, perhaps you should brace yourself for at least a little quake or perhaps even a thunderstorm!
2. Predicting Thunderstorms – Maybe pets should just be meteorologists – they’d probably be more accurate than us humans! Apparently the same phenomena that help dogs and most other animals anticipate earthquakes also comes into play when storms are rolling in. Since storms are more common than earthquakes, there is a bit more concrete proof in terms of experiences being validated by others’ shared experiences. It is not uncommon at all to have a pet acting strangely, whining, crying, panting, pacing, and otherwise displaying seemingly random symptoms of stress – only to have the sky explode into a thunderstorm a few hours later. I know that personally, one of my dogs always begins shaking and panting heavily a little bit before a thunderstorm. One time in particular she started trembling and acting stressed, and it was a bright sunny day outside, so I was puzzled. Well, a few hours later, it suddenly got extremely cloudy and a storm erupted soon after, and then my dog’s behavior made sense. Again, scientists have different explanations for this prediction, the simplest being that perhaps the animal can hear thunder rumblings that are super far away, that haven’t even reached the vicinity of the area yet. Other theories claim that dogs and other animals can sense the electromagnetic current in the air, which is being released by the energy produced from the storm. Some scientists claim that dogs could possibly even smell the electric current in the air!
3. Detecting Health Issues and Diseases – Therapy dogs and companion animals are becoming more commonplace nowadays due to their increasingly well-known effectiveness in aiding humans. Two very common afflictions that benefit from canine companions are epilepsy and diabetes, with the dog specially trained to alert its owner if they are about to have a seizure, or if their blood sugar is dangerously low. I have personally met a few dogs that are trained in such a way to lick their owner’s face when they sense that a seizure is about to happen, or when their owner is about to pass out due to low glucose levels in the blood. These dogs have been accurate every time, and have probably prevented a lot of damage and danger that could have happened to an unaware owner. Recently, it has been found and somewhat substantiated that dogs can sense cancer in their owners, which could prove to be an extremely important preventative factor! There are numerous accounts of owners reporting that their pet had licked or sniffed certain areas repeatedly for seemingly no reason – only to find later on that cancerous tissue existed in that area. Why can dogs sense these changes in our health? Well, scientists say that due to the chemical differences in smell, taste, and perhaps electrical signal produced by the body’s ailment, our pets can pick up on these subtle changes and alert us to them. They also theorize that our pets do this not just because they love us and care about our well-being, but it is also an instinctual survival technique – if something happens to us, their survival may be threatened, so they want to preserve themselves by preserving us! Interesting stuff, huh? Read more about this phenomenon in greater detail here and specifically about pets sniffing out cancer here!
4. Sensing Labor Before Childbirth – As if the 9-month-long pregnancy isn’t physically and emotionally exhausting enough for a soon-to-be mother, the final couple weeks can be agonizing. Although the final stretch is in sight, it can be extremely stressful, painful, and frustrating in the last bit of time before baby comes out. Not only can there be prolonged physical discomfort, but the anticipation of the impending birthing process can be a lot to handle and drive the future mother a little bit crazy! Therefore, it is helpful that dogs can sense when a woman is about to begin labor, because it can give a rough timeline of when the whole thing is about to go down. Besides calming the mother’s nerves, it can be helpful to determine the impending labor so that the woman, husband, and anyone else involved can plan on being ready to go to the hospital and begin the lengthy checklist of birthing procedures. How can dogs know when their owner is about to go into labor? Well, due to the chemical changes in the woman’s blood, scientists are led to believe that maybe the dog smells a certain “labor scent” that causes it to follow its owner around and be especially attentive to the baby’s safety. Another theory is perhaps the dog can notice the subtle physical changes in its owner’s body right before it is about to begin the birthing process. Regardless, the dog usually lets its owner know that labor will begin either the day before, or several hours before it happens – so thankfully there can be somewhat of a sense of preparedness and not so much chaos and stress!
These are just a few examples; who knows how many different afflictions, disorders, and diseases that dogs can detect and help with! Already there are some labs that are running tests where dogs are sniffing urine and blood samples to find out how effectively they can smell differences between healthy blood and blood with cancer, anemia, HIV, and other illnesses. As more people explore the abilities of therapy dogs and companion animals in general, we will undoubtedly become enlightened to many other ways that our pets can aid us in our health, safety, and emotional well-being!