For centuries, people have been turning to their beloved pooches for affection and companionship. And for good reason — dogs are incredibly perceptive and intelligent creatures. They may not understand the nuances of everyday life, of course, but dogs have an incredible ability to understand how their pet parents are feeling emotionally, and even physically. Indeed, they don’t call them man’s best friend for nothing!
1. They Know if You’re Scared.
Heard something go bump in the night? Dogs can pick up on your fear, and will usually mimic your behaviour. If you’d like to alleviate your dog’s fear, you need to alleviate your own first! One exception, though, would be the several breeds that have been, well, bred, to be guard dogs.
2. They Notice Inequality.
Dogs can tell if you’re playing favorites. Let’s say you have two dogs who both earned a treat for good behaviour. If you give a treat to only one, the other will likely pick up on that, and believe she’s done something wrong. They can even stop cooperating all together. Perhaps there’s something us humans can learn from this!
3. They Know Whether or Not You’re Paying Attention.
Any pet parent with a sneaky pooch knows this one is totally true! The science backs it up, too: studies have shown that dogs are perfectly aware whether or not there are any people around, and will behave accordingly. Even the most well-behaved dog on the block can’t risk temptations when no humans are around to scold them.
4. They Can Tell if You’re Sick.
Dogs have long been prized — and put to work — for their keen sense of smell. Their noses are thousands of times stronger than the average human! Just as dogs are trained to sniff for drugs or explosives, dogs have also been successfully trained to pick up on the extremely subtle scents our bodies give off when we have cancer. Other dogs have been trained to alert their pet parents when they’re about to have a seizure minutes or even hours before an attack will happen– though it’s not entirely clear if this skill is related to dog’s sense of smell.
5. They Know If You’re Sad.
Does your dog somehow know just what to do when you’re not feeling so happy? You’re not imagining it — studies have shown that dogs can pick up on your sadness and are more likely to approach you. One such study placed two people, one crying and one quiet, in a room. Almost all of the dogs approached the crying person, and most of those did so with submissive body language — even if the crying person was a stranger to them. Researchers, though, aren’t entirely clear on whether this means that dogs fully understand empathy.