We all know that dogs are intelligent, beautiful creatures — but do we always pay attention to their unique abilities and keen perception?
I’d always heard stories about the near-magical sixth sense that some dogs tend to have — but I’ve found that most people brush this off as a simple unexplained mystery.
However, many studies have shown that animals and humans alike may have wonderfully inexplicable intuitive strengths.
Many organizations, like Animal Planet and Psychology Today, as well as several universities, have conducted research on this phenomenon. They found that are many factors that might contribute to dog’s special “powers” that many dogs have, including canines’ enhanced physical senses.
Below, we explore why dogs engage in some very particular behaviors, and the surprising motives behind each of them.
Did you know that dogs had these incredible physical powers? Some of these caught me by complete surprise! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Sixth Sense #1: Diseases And Cancers
At times, dogs may pay particular attention to certain parts of your body, and this may be a sign that you’re due for a checkup at the doctor’s. Studies have shown that, through their keen sense of smell, dogs can “predict” a variety of bodily reactions.
For example, the American Urological Association concluded a study where dogs sniffed out prostate cancer with 98% accuracy. Yet another study found that they can, through the smell of a person’s sweat or breath, detect high or low blood sugar levels in diabetic patients.
Dogs have the ability to detect chemicals known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. These compounds refer to naturally occurring chemicals, including scents and odors. Humans can sense certain VOCs, but dogs have a greater ability to detect more potent and potentially dangerous VOCs.
Just imagine this: Dogs have a sense of smell that can be 10,000 to 100,000 times stronger than a human’s. That means they can pick up scents that are up to 100,000 times weaker than scents detected by humans. To give you more of an image, a dog can smell a teaspoon of sugar in a million gallons of water.
Sixth Sense #2: Pregnancy
Many women have reported that their dogs suddenly become more attentive and protective when they’re expecting. Often, they will also begin to escort you to places. From time to time, they may also nuzzle and sniff your belly, and rest their heads on it.
Again, their ability to detect bodily changes can be credited to their powerful sense of smell. When a woman is pregnant, her body chemistry — and, as a result, her distinct odor — shifts. And in some cases, dogs may feel threatened, or isolated, by the new addition in your home.
To prepare them for the baby, experts recommend that you show them a special place that belongs uniquely to them, and spend some time each day taking them there. Establishing a gentle, loving routine with them, and continuing this routine even after the baby is born, is extremely important.
Sixth Sense #3: Natural Disasters
There have been many recorded instances in which dogs (and in fact, other animals, as well) have been able to “predict” earthquakes. Like some cats tend to do, dogs may become physically agitated days before the quake. They tremble, shake, and are restless. But, unlike cats, who may have the tendency to escape right before a big quake or storm, dogs demonstrate protective contact with their beloved humans.
In 1975, the city of Haichengin, China, ordered a mass evacuation mere days before a 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck. Officials had observed the increasingly strange behavior of animals just a short time before giving the warning to the city’s residents.
Studies have shown us that dogs are able to perceive frequencies that are around twice the strength of what humans can detect. They can also recognize sounds that are four times as distinct as those picked up by humans.
They may be able to quite accurately warn us of oncoming natural disasters, because all of their dynamic, engaged senses allow them to detect changes in atmospheric pressure, ground deformation, and gravity.
Sixth Sense #4: Human Generosity
We already know that dogs can be efficiently observant. That’s why they are known to pay great attention to how their owners act toward other humans.
The University of Milan conducted a behavioral experiment, where one group of actors shared their food with a homeless man, and another group aggressively told the man to leave. Afterward, the two groups tried to call the dogs at the same time. Nearly all of the dogs responded to the “generous” actors, and wouldn’t go near the other group.
Dogs can definitely sense intentions of kindness through displays like tone of voice and body stances. But generosity, as the experiment pointed out, places as much emphasis on justice and fairness as it does on kindness. In this respect, dogs can have as strong of a distinction between right and wrong as humans do.
Because of their strong moral compass, dogs expect fairness, so they may act out when you don’t behave accordingly. They will certainly let you know when they are disappointed about a selfish act.
Sixth Sense #5: Animosity Between Humans
Dogs can also keenly sense when we don’t like other people. We’ll often find that they take cues from our body language, and infer our feelings toward other people in that way. Often, they will feel protective over us if they perceive other people as a threat.
When we feel or display emotions such as love, the chemicals dopamine and serotonin are released into our systems. A chemical reaction of these chemicals produces sensations of joy and happiness. Likewise, chemicals are released in the body in response to thoughts of dislike, irritation, hatred, etc.
Just like they can expertly sniff out the chemicals associated with diseases, dogs are able to detect these changes in emotion. If you have noticed surprising changes in your dog’s behavior, it might be closely tied to your own reactions.
Sixth Sense #6: Diabetic Attacks
Today, many dogs are being trained to recognize and diagnose conditions and deadly symptoms. One of their better-known abilities is alerting type 1 diabetics when their blood sugar levels drop too low. Some diabetics might not constantly monitor the warning signs, and may sometimes not eat enough, or accidentally take too much insulin.
A “diabetes alert dog” can detect changes that occur in body odor that can indicate low blood sugar. The charity organization Medical Detection Dogs teaches their dogs to lick, nudge, and stare at patients who are experiencing hypoglycemia.
Sixth Sense #7: Depression
Dogs are known to comfort their humans during times of sadness or permanent hardship. Often, they will observe a person from across the room, and come over after a while, and lie down near the person. Many dogs will also try to lick away their humans’ tears.
Researchers at the University of London found that dogs in fact were more inclined to approach a crying person, than someone who was simply talking or humming. They noticed that these dogs responded to sadness with submissive behaviors.
The fact that they could distinguish humming from crying proved that sounds related with sadness somehow carried a greater emotional weight and meaning for the dogs. And though there is no hard science telling us that dogs experience empathy, we certainly believe that their ability to single out emotions proves that they are aware of sadness.
Sixth Sense #8: Labor
Many women have reported that their dogs behave differently, and more restlessly, during their labor. Studies have speculated that anything from transitions in physical actions to special scents from the woman in labor can tip off the dog.
When meeting other dogs or humans for the first time, our canine companions immediate go for the nether regions and the armpits. This is because those places most actively house our sweat glands, which secret pheromones. Dogs use pheromones to “guide” them about someone’s disposition and feelings.
Dogs are also known to sniff women a lot when they’re ovulating, because pheromones emitted during that time are stronger than they are at other times. Similarly, dogs can detect the heightened differences in our scents, given off at different periods in our lives.
Which one of these dog intuitions were you the most surprised by? Let us know in the comments below!