Your Dog Knows When You’re Feeling Stressed

He just has to use one of his senses 👃

You probably already know this, but a dog’s sense of smell is pretty incredible (for starters, his sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times that of the average human).

Besides knowing when it’s time for dinner, their impressive sense of smell also means that dogs are really good at observing the people around them — and can even sense when they’re feeling worried.

According to a new study published by Queen’s University Belfast in PLOS ONE, dogs can actually smell when their pet parents are feeling stressed and when they’re calm.

During the study, participants gave breath and sweat samples before and after performing a mental math task for three minutes, counting backward from 9,000 in units of 17.

“If the participant gave a correct answer, they were given no feedback and were expected to continue, and if they gave an incorrect answer, the researcher would interrupt with ‘no’ and tell them their last correct answer,” lead study author Clara Wilson told CNN.

Feeling stressed yet?

The dogs in the study then sniffed the breath and sweat samples from participants who reported feeling stressed, along with samples taken before all that math.

The dogs were able to choose the “stressed” samples over 90 percent of the time, which suggests that the stress odors were different from the dog’s perspective.

“It was fascinating to see how able the dogs were at discriminating between these odors when the only difference was that a psychological stress response had occurred,” Wilson said.

This is compelling news for pet parents who have service dogs, especially those who assist with mental health conditions like anxiety and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Understanding when their pet parent is stressed can only serve to strengthen the bond of this special relationship.

“Knowing that there is a detectable odor component to stress may raise discussion into the value of scent-based training using samples from individuals in times of stress versus calm,” Wilson said.

The study results serve as yet another example of how good dogs are at reading our emotions, and why, yes, we really don’t deserve them!