Our pups never cease to amaze us. They have senses we can barely conceptualize and a perceptiveness in their eyes that often feels distinctly human. If you’re already in awe of your dog’s super-sensitive hearing or sixth sense about approaching thunderstorms, here are five more dog facts that may blow your mind!
It’s well-known that dogs have powerful noses. Their incredible sense of smell benefits humans in all sorts of ways, from detecting contraband in the mail to tracking wild game. You may be shocked to learn, however, that your pup can actually sniff out your mood.
Whether we are elated, defeated, or fearful, our emotions cause hormonal changes within our bodies that affect the way our perspiration smells. If your dog has ever tried to comfort you during a sad movie, you’re right to be amazed by his empathy. Studies have demonstrated that dogs can detect these differences and mirror our emotions back to us.
We tend to associate dogs with their excellent hearing, so it is surprising to learn they spend the first three weeks of their lives totally deaf. Puppies are born with their eyes and ear canals closed, and those senses emerge slowly over time. Once your dog’s hearing is fully developed, it will be approximately four times as powerful as yours!
If the sight of another person yawning causes you to feel an overwhelming urge to yawn too, that may be one more thing you and your pooch have in common. In humans, the phenomenon of contagious yawning is believed to be a sign of highly developed social skills. More empathetic people are more likely to “catch” yawns from others.
A study from the University of Tokyo demonstrated that a sense of emotional connection also inspires contagious yawning in our pups. Researchers found that more than half of the dogs studied yawned in response to the sight or sound of a human yawn. They also discovered that dogs were much more likely to mirror the yawns of their owners than those of strangers.
If you notice your pup taking his time selecting the perfect bathroom location, his reasoning may be more sophisticated than you think. Though researchers are not certain why, dogs of all breeds prefer to align their bodies with Earth’s north-south axis when it’s time to do the deed. Their reasoning for this strong preference is a mystery, but it does indicate that our canine companions have an innate awareness of geomagnetism — a sense that humans don’t seem to possess.
If the ability to smell our feelings isn’t amazing enough, dogs’ incredible sense of smell can save lives. Pups can learn to recognize the distinctive smell of cancerous cells on our breath and perspiration well before the disease would normally be detected by a medical professional.
Cancer detecting dogs are exposed to both healthy and cancerous samples of bodily fluids until they learn to distinguish between the two. Because they can recognize the smell of cancer in its very early stages, these hard-working canines facilitate the early interventions and dramatically improve outcomes for patients.