dogs can smell fear


Dogs are versatile animals that have plenty of skills. During evolution, they have developed a rather strong sense of smell (olfactory system). As a matter of fact, a dog’s sense of smell is thousands of times stronger than ours. This makes us ask: Can dogs really smell fear? Well, this is a debatable subject. Still, it has not been established whether dogs can literally smell fear, without relying on visual cues.

How do DOGS smell fear?

Feeling threatened, humans tend to experience different physiological changes. Hence, adrenaline rush causes changes, such as increased heart rate and sweating. Also, sweat glands are more active and release chemicals called pheromones, which are then pumped into the blood and body fluids, including tears, sweat and urine. The question is whether dogs actually have the ability to smell fear, in the strictest meaning of the phrase? Well, more established theory is that they can sense (detect) the chemical and physical changes associated with different emotions, including anxiety, stress, fear, or excitement.

”Reading our body language’’

Even though dogs have an acute sense of smell, they have an extraordinary ability to read our body language. In addition, this ability is playing a far bigger role in determining our emotions that the olfactory system. Moreover, some scientists believe that dogs can sense fear just by looking at us.

In general, if they feel fear on you, dogs will become aggressive and most probably attack. So, when approaching an unknown dog, the most important thing is to remain calm and collected, not showing anxiety or fear.

Photo credit: Sal/Flickr


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