15 Amazing Things Your Dog Can Sense About You


Any dog lover will tell you that dogs have a sixth sense when it comes to understanding human emotional needs.

When you are feeling down, a dog can often act as a better confidant than another human.

They also listen better, respond appropriately to your emotions, and seem to genuinely care about your feelings. What gives?

It should come as no surprise that dogs are capable of intense feelings. They are highly social, pack animals with strong emotional connections to other dogs. They have their own social structures and bonding rituals, many of which mirror human social structures.

The same emotional connections that dogs experience in packs can transfer easily to any group setting, including cross-species situations. To your dog, you are family. It is as simple as that.

Of course, there are many other fascinating things that your dog understands about you that you may not be aware of. Sometimes their abilities can be downright spooky, but there are strong scientific explanations for your dog’s behaviors. Understanding how your dog perceives you can help you relate better to your pet.

Here is a look at 15 things your dog can sense about you along with some insight into how dogs do these things and what it all means.

1. Dogs Know When You Are Sad

When you feel sad, your dog will immediately pick up on this and adjust his behavior accordingly. He may become more subdued than usual, lose interest in his toys and even refuse his food.

Usually, your dog will quietly observe you from a corner of the room. After a while, he may come over and lie down at your feet or gently rest his head in your lap. Many dogs will even try to lick away tears as they fall. A dog’s master is the center of his entire world, so sensing your feelings of sadness will have an effect on him too.

In a study published in the journal “Animal Cognition,” researchers found that a dog was more likely to approach someone who was crying than someone who was humming or talking. Furthermore, they found that dogs respond to weeping with submissive behavior.

In other words, dogs seem to be trying to placate a person who is upset. What is more, dogs will approach anyone who is upset the same way, regardless of whether that person is their owner or not.

The scientists insist that this study does not prove that dogs experience empathy, but it certainly goes a long way to supporting the claim. It also clearly indicates that dogs can identify sadness as an emotion that is different from other feelings.

Others are reading

  • Carol Geyer

    So do my cats. Both of my dogs and all four of my cats crowd around me when I am upset. GOTTA LOVE ‘EM!

  • pacific707


  • Cheryln Kurz

    Agreed! My three cats & AmStaff/pit mix, Otis, know when I’m sad or sick. They are more gentle and cuddle with me. My sister is pregnant and Otis actually stopped jumping on her when her belly got bigger. She loves wrestling with him and when she started showing, he got more gentle with her. It was really sweet to see :)

  • David Wilson

    My dog was not too bright. He thought I was taking him to the vet to be tutored.

    • Dubiaku

      Must have been humiliating for him to find out the truth after bragging to all his friends.

  • gary fair

    read W H Y !.. charities must stop funding the historical failure of animal research, no LIE!.. can live forever!

  • Joshua Jacob Grillot

    LAst dog I had was an american Shepard, smart dog but he had a nervous tick and would crap on the floor before I got him out to do his business. I’ll get another one, a german shepherd soon. I love those dogs.

  • Heather V

    My dog is so proud of himself when he does something he shouldn’t. Like get into the trash. He’ll great me at the door with a goofy grin and show me what he did.

  • 1rityls

    For #8, isn’t it more likely that the dog goes to the actor who gave the homeless person food… because the dog is hoping to get some food too? Not some abstract concept like “generosity”? Likewise, wouldn’t the dog avoid the aggressive person because he seems angry, and not because he seems “stingy”?

  • GetReal

    My dog knew when my other dog was ill. She let him use her bed (a magnetic pad) so he would feel better. She wasn’t surprised when I came home one sad day without him. She already knew. I wish I’d gotten two of those magnetic beds.

  • Julie B

    My heeler knows when I’m THINKING about getting my coat and going outside, when she is outside where she can’t even see me! She starts to whine at the door. She can also tell what direction I’m THINKING about throwing her ball and I try to fool her without success. She is SO sensitive to me. Sometimes too sensitive – We have a new (mixed herding breed) pup who is wonderful but needs typical correction and my heeler takes it so to-heart when we have to tell him (pup) “no”. It breaks my heart when she looks so heartbroken unnecessarily.

  • Amberwalls

    I had a male dog urinate on an unwelcome visitor to my home. This dog in all his years never had an accident in the house. It was flat out deliberate. I was trying to get the man to leave when my Shadow dog took things into his own paws. Walked over to the man and hiked a leg on him. Good boy!

    • Cindy Araya

      Wow! Such a good boy!

    • Sheila Moore

      My father told a story about being on the parade ground on an Army base with his soldiers in formation on the field, and a dog coming up and urinating on a sergeant that no one liked. Hilarious!

      • Einelorelei

        Oh that would be soooooooooo funny!

  • Cindy Araya

    He is gorgeous!

    • http://www.schoolcharging.org SchoolCharging

      Sweet little guy.

  • Dubiaku

    I think my cat can sense when I’m sad. But the difference is that he doesn’t give a crap. Though I admit he tried threatening me once when I was sick to see if I was faking, probably a tactic he would have used with kittens.

    When you feed a dog, shelter him, and treat him well, he thinks you are some kind of god. When you feed a cat, shelter him, and treat him well, the cat thinks that he himself is the god.

    • TinkerToes

      I don’t agree. Cats just show their deference in a different way than dogs. My cat knows the sound of my car, and if he is outdoors, he runs up to the car and licks my feet when I get out of it.

  • https://www.facebook.com/happyhomemaker29 Patty Corbett

    I have PTSD and a new puppy. She’s been very good for the anxiety and the nightmares. I’ve noticed lately when I have a nightmare, I wake to her licking my face. It certainly makes them easier to deal with.

  • kpas6185

    remember “As Good As It Gets” with Helen Hunt and Jack Nicholson and the gay neighbor with his little dog Verdell? well, I lucked out at the Humane Society and came home 5 years ago with a long-legged, longer body Brussels Griffon! you have to see him to appreciate the name I gave him, SAM I AM! I’ve had several dogs from the H.S. but Sam is by far so intelligent and follows commands to the point I oftentimes am left in awe! I go one way around a tree, Sam goes another. I say
    “back,” and here comes Sam back around the tree to my side! wonderful people who had him for two years prior to my adopting him undoubtedly loved him, named him Fizzgigg which if you Google it, you’ll see Sam! except when Petsmart grooms his facial hair and he can see again! so cute. he loves me and I love him, for sure!

    The second name I call Sam is “wiggle butt” cause it’s a stub and goes pretty darn fast when he wants someone to play with him. He goes down on his front paws and raises his butt up in the air ….. reminds me of a helicopter!

  • donna

    The article was spot on.The only thing I didn’t see was dog’s sense when you are going out for the evening. When I would be going out at night my dog would sit at top of the steps outside of bedroom like she was saying “you aren’t going anywhere without me.”

    • Sheila Moore

      Or preparing for a trip. Dog looks at me with a sad face. Cat gets in the suitcase.

  • Kathryn Easterwood

    my little dog is my bff <3 he is a handsome little guy <3

  • stellarswan

    Thank you……this article is encouraging

  • Bluto Blutarski

    my dog is a lab. I came back from SWA. He literally laid over under and on top for a month. I do NOT deserve such kindness. I don’t want him upset if I blow a seal and snap one day.

    • scott905

      Blowing a seal is easy. Blowing a killer whale — that’s another story. Also, where or what is SWA? Southwest Asia? Africa? Australia?

  • GivesItThought

    Dang. This is the first one I’ve disagreed with. My dog loved my psychopath step-father. He definitely was not a good person. In fact, psychopaths love the worship of dogs. I guess dogs sense the heartless alpha inside the psychopaths and admire their strength for it.

  • ccw1911

    I have a 6 year old Rott that absolutely LOVES his vet. Mention her name and he gets all excited and is ready to go see her. Can’t wait to get there and when he finally does see her he will let out a howl of excitement and rush to her just as happy as can be. Here’s a picture of him waiting for her to arrive.


    mine freaks all out when its time to go to the vet but he loves going on hikes and to the park.

  • Paingirl

    I am disabled. my pup always knows when my pain is bad, he comes right up onto wherever I hurt the most, and if it’s my head, will lick me under my chin. He literally takes the pain away, it seems.

  • Einelorelei

    My pit bull saved me from an attack on the jogging trail. A skeezy looking guy approached me and she lunged at him and would have torn him to shreds if I wasn’t strong enough to hold her leash. I have only seen her this way that one time. To everyone else she is a happy friendly dog.

  • Acqua Davis

    I must have his sister – “MISS ZOE”!
    She came to save my life. Someone put her out of a car, in Seaford, DE. She was only 4 mos old.
    We had just lost our 10 year old (Blk Lab), on Dec 4, 2009 He was overdosed, at Old Marple Vet, in Springfield, PA.
    “Miss Zoe” was found on April 20, 2010…JAN FEB MAR APR…Hmm!!
    She also won’t leave my side, and will only get in a car with me. They are amazing. My husband said, she waits at the door. If the house phone rings she won’t move….but, if his cell rings…she gets up, because I don’t call him on the house phone.
    She’s just getting over a bout with Lyme’s. I hope you don’t have to deal with that. She started limping. It must be very painful.God Bless & Good Luck!

  • Diane Demp

    we had 2 Irish Setters, they broke all the rules — they were extremely energetic, fun, sociable and just big rascals — mingling with guest when we had parties and sometimes quiet when we demanded it . However they preferred mass chaos to quiet times! They also liked the food and cocktails — as we discovered when guests would say but I thought I had a plate full of…or but I thought I had a glass full…

    they also stole solid big things (eyeglasses, books, shoes) and we often had to retrieve things from their dog house –they were trained to stay in our open air vehicle but both one day just jumped out of the rear seat and decided to just run behind the vehicle (we lived in open high desert area!), once they took over a small lake irritating little boys fishing and swimming as they tried to retrieve a big barrel floating in the lake that was twice their size, they figured out how to get on our roof and would stand on the ridge observing the vast desert terrain and certainly smelling all of it —– etc.

    they were charming and beautiful and “could” behave– but there sense of wild free spirit and having a good time often took over –my husband said we should have named them Rover one and two ’cause they were like the song the Wild Irish Rover — yes, they passed training class but kept the class and us in stitiches as the clowns

    advice: wonderful dogs if you have a like disposition otherwise both of you will be miserable

  • davol

    Good article, but I was hoping to read something about dogs knowing when you are about to come home. Myself and lots of people I know have noticed this about their animals. That’s one of their spookier abilities it seems.