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Do Dogs Know When We Were Stressed? Can They Feel It?

There is justification for the adage that the dog is man's best friend. Dogs are entertaining to be around, give continual company, and are obviously devoted to their human owners.

In addition, a recent study has demonstrated that dogs can detect when their human companions are feeling anxious.

This may help explain why so many breeds are suitable for training as emotional-support dogs. How then do we know that dogs can detect our anxiety?

Find out by reading "Do Dogs Know When We Were Stressed? Can They Feel It?" by BestForPets (bestforpets.org).

Answers From An Insightful Study

It wasn’t until September 2022, when a research was published in PLOS ONE, that it was discovered that dogs can distinguish between a human’s baseline scents and their stress-related aromas.

Before to this, it was believed that dogs could sense stress in people based on numerous studies. The study consisted of collecting sweat and breath samples from human subjects at their baseline levels and then again after arithmetic problem solving produced stress.

There were a total of 36 participants, including four dogs. There were a total of 36 trial sessions. Phase one consists of the dogs distinguishing baseline samples of human participants from blank samples.

The second phase consisted of exposing the dogs to both the baseline and stress samples of the human participants to test if they could distinguish between them. Amazingly, the accuracy of the dogs was at least 90%.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, dogs have hundreds of millions of olfactory receptors, which assist transmit odors to the brain. The typical human has 50 million olfactory receptors, so it’s not surprising that a dog can sense things, such as stress chemicals, that humans cannot through scent.

Your Stress Can Be Passed On to Your Dog

When you are constantly anxious, your cortisone levels might remain elevated, something that your dog can easily notice. Stress hormones are retained in the air, so they do not just vanish when tension subsides.

If you frequently experience stress, your dog may constantly detect it on your body. In addition, the tension you generate might transfer to your dog, causing them to become agitated and anxious.

Regrettably, we cannot conceal our anxiety from our pets in the same way that we can from coworkers, acquaintances, and even family members. So, there is nothing you can do to shield your dog from your high levels of stress.

How Your Dog Might React When They Sense Your Stress

Just as you may exhibit indications of stress if your body is full of stress hormones, your dog may exhibit similar signs if they have developed stress for whatever cause.

Although dogs can acquire worry and anxiety without assistance from humans, it is likely that their tension is at least largely the result of their owner’s behaviors or stress levels.

Here is how your dog may respond when they sense your stress and begin to build their own:

  • Separation from the family
  • Increased hostility
  • Increased timidity
  • Excessive howling and barking
  • Drooling, yawning, and/or licking excessively
  • Abnormal shedding
  • Alterations in bathroom routines
  • Tendency to conceal

Controlling your own stress levels is the most effective strategy to prevent your dog from experiencing stress. But, even if you are not experiencing stress, there may be lifestyle factors that are causing your dog discomfort and should be addressed. Consult your veterinarian to discover the source of this stress so that it can be eradicated or at least reduced.

Final Thoughts

Do Dogs Know When We Were Stressed? Can They Feel It?” by BestForPets (bestforpets.org) clarified that your dog can detect stressful periods in your life, whether they are seldom or often, and you may transmit those sentiments to them. Consequently, it is prudent to adopt measures to manage your stress levels over time.

Try taking your dog for regular walks, going to the gym more frequently, and discussing your stress levels with your doctor to discover whether you have a preexisting health problem.

Author Image

Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher


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