Dogs really can smell your fear, and then they get scared too


Our furry pets may quickly improve our mood and lessen stress. But did you know that dogs are able to detect your level of stress? The exceptional ability of canines to detect the odours that stressed people release is shown by a research undertaken by the Queen’s University of the United Kingdom.

Stress causes physiological changes in our body, such as increased sweating and respiration. Dogs, according to Queen’s University psychologists, can recognise this alteration. In order to demonstrate their claim, Queen’s University researchers took samples of human volunteers’ breath and perspiration before and after they engaged in a stressful mental arithmetic activity. These individuals’ stress levels, heart rates, and blood pressure were recorded, and they were also asked to complete questionnaires on their anxiety.

Dogs who have received odour identification training were shown these samples so they could tell a stress sample from a baseline sample. And the dogs correctly recognised the stress samples around 94% of the time.

How can dogs detect human stress?
The canines in the aforementioned research were able to accurately detect stress samples, which is amazing considering that the only variable that changed. Dogs are known to be excellent sniffers, which accounts for their extraordinary skills to detect explosives, narcotics, dead bodies, coronavirus, and now anxiety.

Dogs can smell tiny chemicals and volatile substances, which allows them to identify significant physiological variations. They contain 220 million olfactory receptors, which is far more than the 50 million in humans, making them exceptionally effective at distinguishing and detecting odours. Inside the nose, olfactory receptors are nerve endings that enable you to smell. So, compared to humans, dogs have a about four times stronger sense of smell.

The specific reasons why dogs acquired such keen senses of smell are unclear, although they are probably related to the need to identify prey, prospective threats, one’s own reproductive state, and the bonds between family members in a pack, among other things.

These results may be used in future research to determine if dogs are able to discern between various moods and the duration of stress-related odours. According to one of the researchers, these results may also be helpful for service dogs who assist individuals with mental health conditions including anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.


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