Come to Your Senses: Do Dogs Really Have a Sixth Sense?
You’ve heard it before: Dogs can sense a plethora of things that people can’t. Whether it be a mood, an incoming storm, or just an owner’s bad day, it’s obvious that dogs can sense these sort of things. Therefore, many think that they possess a sort of sixth sense. But is this really possible? In short, yes. It all comes down to the inherent characteristics that dogs (and dogs only) possess.
A dog’s sense of smell has been utilized for centuries to aid the police, the military, and other service-related fields, so it’s no secret that dogs have a much more refined sense of smell than humans and most other animals. A dog’s sense of smell is the key to the sixth sense that dogs have when interacting with their humans.
A dog’s incredible sense of smell allows them to detect even the smallest changes in our bodies’ chemistry. Dogs possess over 300 million olfactory receptors (compared to our six million) that can easily detect any and all changes to the scents of the world around them, especially when it comes to their owners. For example, when in dangerous situations, our adrenaline begins to pump or maybe we begin to perspire slightly. Our fight or flight response kicks in, and our body produces cortisol and norepinephrine in addition to adrenaline. The combination of these three hormones puts the human body into “survival mode,” generating a unique scent that reflects the charge of the situation. These are things that our dogs can pick up on based on the scent of hormone combinations.
This keen sense of smell then allows dogs to not only sense and detect, but act accordingly. Think about this scenario: Do you know someone who is afraid of dogs? Have you ever noticed how dogs act around them? In most cases, when a person who is scared of dog encounters one, the person is hesitant, unsure, and perhaps a little on edge. These emotions trigger those fight or flight hormones and the person emits a certain scent that only the dog will detect. The dog, therefore, can sense the person's fear or discomfort and in turn, will automatically be on the defensive themselves, an instinct for most creatures. Something as simple as an uncertain facial expression coupled with the stress scents we mentioned earlier, puts the dog on edge without ever meeting them prior. This entire occurrence could happen from across the room. How’s that for a sixth sense?
But smell is only one factor to a dog’s brilliant capabilities. In our own human interactions, 80% of what is said is communicated nonverbally. These nonverbal cues and body language we use are also used to communicate with dogs, often whether we know it or not. Just like looking at dogs or photos of dogs can have a positive effect on our brains, the same is true when dogs encounter humans. Dogs are so invested in our looks, behavior, attitude, and mood, and they’re in tune with us from the very beginning.
If you think about it, you are your dog’s whole world. Of course, they’re going to understand when you look directly at them, nod, and pat the cushion beside you. These nonverbal commands are often used in training, reinforcing common verbal commands like stay, sit, and lay-down. But what about the less direct nonverbal signals?
Because we’re the most genuine and transparent with our pets, the more time they spend with us, the more acquainted they get with our moods, expressions, and habits. This extends to the point where dogs can differentiate between the facial expressions of their owners. For instance, when you come home from work after a good day and greet your dog with a smile, open expression, and happiness in your voice, your dog will couple this with your current scent – one of positivity – and interpret these behaviors as something good. The same is true when you’re upset: your frown, slumped shoulders, and scent transmit negativity that your dog picks up on, and your dog reacts accordingly.
When you combine the incredible sense of smell with dogs’ ability to pick up any and all nonverbal communication, it’s evident that dogs have what could be described as a sixth sense.
At WINPRO, we have a good sense of how your dog’s biology works and our products are designed to keep all its systems functioning at peak form. That’s the WINPROway and why WINPRO works.
WINPRO IMMUNITY contains a blend of animal blood proteins and other key ingredients to help dogs combat the negative effects of stress and inflammation. WINPRO Immunity is specifically formulated to help boost your dog's defense against things that can undermine its immune system. By promoting a healthy gut, WINPRO Immunity helps dogs of all ages —especially during times of travel, stress, competition, etc.