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.

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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.

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  • 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!

    • KaayC

      Awww you are surrounded by love. How cool.

  • 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 :)

    • Gunfight man

      An American staffordshire terrier is the same thing as a pit bull. Am staff is the politically correct term for a pit bull. No other kennel club recognizes am staff, they just call them what they are, a pit bull. You have a an American pit bull terrier unless he’s short and all muscled up to the point he can’t move then he would be an American bully, which is the result of people ruining the real pit bull working breed

      • fifiwereking

        “The Am Staff and the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) used to be considered one and the same, but they now have different bloodlines.”

    • Gunfight man

      My pit hunts by day and cuddles my baby daughter by night. That is a true American pit bull terrier

      • KaayC

        Lets hope he doesn’t get his days and nights mixed up. Personally I don’t trust em, and I love dogs.

        • Glenn Festog

          Whenever a dogbreed becomes popular, suddenly the population goes up and you get more reports; good and bad. Further, some breeders cashing in on this phenomina will inbreed there dogs. Remember Lenny from “Of Mice and Men”? Big gentle guy who would suddenly snap?

          Same thing with dogs: there’s a reason why cousins shouldn’t marry each other.

  • 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.

      • Glenn Festog

        Worse, you can’t take him to the racetrack; he’ll get upset each time the announcer says, “They’re off!”

  • 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.

    • KaayC

      The morning when my sister had to put her ( male) dog down, her female dog gave him her ice cream treat. It was like she just knew he wasn’t coming home. My sister gave them ice cream because Lucky just loved it.

  • 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.

    • Dubiaku

      My cat can tell when I’m leaving by subtle things like my showering or changing my clothes. I filmed him once and after I left, he went around the house crying (furniture is no fun – it just sits there and cats like living things better, and if he didn’t see me leave, he wonders where I am). So, I started telling him, using the same words every time, when I was leaving. I also bring him a snack when returning. He usually goes to sleep after I tell him, but he no longer cries or wanders around the house (or gets tears in his eyes when I’m leaving, I swear!). He knows I’m coming back. Sometimes, all it takes is communication. But I don’t think cats hear many differences in words (training goes better using gestures, I discovered). So use unusual sounds, like words with s’es and even non-word sounds that the cat can distinguish easily. Dogs are, of course, more attuned to human speech.

  • 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!

    • Dubiaku

      My cat once climbed onto the kitchen table (where he never has gone), scraped all my bills that were stacked there into a pile, and peed on them. That was because I forgot to feed him. But to be fair, I think it was just a message – he didn’t realize the seriousness to me, though he must have known the bills meant something to me. To get my attention, he’ll knock over things that I have touched in the last week, but not the last day. Maybe he thinks that the most recent would get him into trouble he doesn’t want!

      • zoella

        Your CAT. Get out.

        • Glenn Festog

          While I own two pitbulls now, I used to own a male black/white longhair Persian Named Charlie. Charlie would get REAL upset if I left the house without making sure his catbox was clean first thing. I’m not talking encrusted here, one pee overnight was enough, it had to go. So I get home from work one day and immediately realized I hadn’t checked his box before I left that morning; so I started looking, and looking, and I couldn’t find, well, you know. So I praised him for being good and settled down for the evening. Everything was fine UNTIL I went to put on my stereo headphones; the cat had crapped inside the left part of my headset. I’ll add that the cat got up and left the room when I headed for my stereo system.

          I don’t have that problem with Salem and Bruno, cats are sneaky.

  • 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.

      • Dubiaku

        Oh, I agree. Cats have far more abilities than people give them credit for. My cat cares about a lot of things, but not all. My sister-in-law remarked that she had never seen a cat like mine. When I asked why, she said that he answers me every time I speak to him. I told her I didn’t raise him to be rude (to which I got no laughs but weird looks). Common phrases like that a cat “thinks its owner is its mother” really rankle me. How long would any animal survive that walked off with a different species thinking it was its mother? They may try “mother tactics” to see if they work, like a human might try “baby tactics” on a small animal, but he does not think I am his mother. We are friends (though he shows deference by bowing his head if I approach from above. That bothers me, too, because I want him to think of us as almost equals. I would never discipline him, by which I do not mean “punish”, for acting like a cat).

        Don’t get me wrong. I love and respect him. He has me beat in a lot of areas. Psychologists have recently discovered (even though most of them seem to be trying to prove how superior they are to the animals, not all are like that) that cats’ pupils dilate in response to the voices of its humans, but not to other common voices in its life. The cat hears and recognizes even when it pretends to be deaf. Cats hide injuries and emotions because appearing weak when you hunt alone could be fatal. But those of us who love them can often see past that.

        • KaayC

          Yeah, but THEY don’t have to deal with those lunatics on the Parkway. Get go eat and sleep all day.

  • 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.

    • MilosMommyCries

      Patty, I wish you well and am glad you have an angel by your side.

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

        Thank you. I appreciate that. I have recently moved into a secure apartment building that you have to be buzzed into, between her and the new apartment I am slowly feeling safer in life. It also helps that I am on the 4th floor, so I no longer worry about someone looking in my windows. When I was 8, that was part of my stalking by my rapist. He would stare into my windows and watch me sleep. By the time my father got out there, because he lived next door, he’d be gone. This went on for a year while we went to trial. Now we would call it witness intimation. It got so bad, we eventually moved. He got 6 months probation because his father was the town fire chief. The way they saw it, at 7, I was asking for it. Nice, right. That helped mess me up for a long time!

  • 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.

      • Dubiaku

        I guess that shows which one has the most practical intelligence. No screwing around! I’m going with you!

  • 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?

    • Dubiaku

      Dogs are very forgiving. It’s a good thing in many cases. But be an adult and direct your anger at the right places. Animals can learn about mistakes, though. My cat, when young, used to fear me after I stepped on his tail or something. Now, I say, “I’m sorry” and pet his head. He’ll then act frisky and go right back to the exact spot where I hurt him. He seems to understand it was an accident and signals that by putting himself in jeopardy again. He learned early that static electricity was not my fault, though as a kitten, he’d always look at me as if to ask why I had hurt him. Animals get wiser with age, too.

  • 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.

    • KaayC

      Nah, he was feeding the dog sirloin and vanilla ice cream when you weren’t around.

  • 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.

    • The_Shadow_Knows

      WOW!!! Another good old dog!!! I can tell he seems really happy to see his Doctor!!!

    • Toxophilite

      I, too, have rotties. The biggest compliment I received from my vet was when he said he wished all his patients were as well behaved and friendly as my dogs were. He said he is never worried or afraid of working on my guy and gal because they were so well tempered. And they’ve never exhibited any concern about going to, or being at, the vets.


    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.

    • Dubiaku

      So your dog attacked a guy who hadn’t done anything wrong? Is that a good thing to you?

      • Arya

        @Dubiaku Read the article, and stop posting about fuc***g cats with each post. Glad your “smart, hop-in-the-suitcase-rather-than-gimme-a-sad-look” cats are so fulfilling for you. This person is referring to the fact that – in the article – they discuss dogs that sense when someone is about to do something bad. As the poster statrd, nothing happened to dog or human. Watch dogs are watch dogs. How is your watch cat doing at protecting you? Stop posting on every other post about your damn cat on a dog-specific article. That is all.

        • http://meetup.com/corgi-meetup kai lani

          Couldn’t have said it better myself, @Arya!!!

        • Dubiaku

          Wow. Testerone tumor, perhaps? I’m sorry that you are angry at the world. You must be very lonely.

        • fifiwereking

          why are you taking your issues out on poor dubiaku? your therapist must really $uck…. some of us love dogs AND cats – people not so much….

    • KaayC

      And if she misreads someone?…..

  • 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.

  • steve

    My two black labs are like velcro stick to me every where i go . But when the misses moves they don’t even batter an ey lid :)

    • The_Shadow_Knows

      Another couple of good ol’dogs!!!!

  • Dubiaku

    Cats are “highly social animals”, too, though in a different way. Going out at night, you’ll find packs of cats gathered, but not close together like dogs. The may spread out over a huge area. But they are together. Cats also have many “mirror neurons” like humans that create a facsimile of the other cat’s or animal’s thoughts to understand them better. Since cats socialize in ways different from humans and dogs, people assume that they don’t. Different cat species certainly vary, but housecats certainly have many social abilities. They even negotiate schedules with neighboring cats so that they are not in the same, overlapping terrirories at the same time. A British study with GPS showed nearby cats going home at 2 hour intervals while the other cats nearby used their territory, And then they switched. On the other hand, a cat species in northern China sees another cat only once a year for mating, though they “text” other cats all year with sprays on rocks and trails.

    • Molly

      Guess there aren’t any cat blogs out there!

  • Helene Doss

    My daughter is loud and bostrious. She does not live with me but my rat terrier adores her. When she is over, he will always respond to her commands despite the caretakers objections. Why is this?

    • Dubiaku

      The dog likes her.


    #6 is right on. Years ago, I had a fling with a neighbor. Every time we’d get in bed and start having sex her little dog would jump up on the bed and try to get between us. I put it outside the bedroom and closed the door but the dog just sat there yapping away.
    Needless to say I found greener pastures in short order!

  • Sydney

    Not my small dog…an 8lb. chihuahua. If he senses I’m in fear of someone while walking he springs into action. Though he’s small, he’s loyal and tries to be the protector and only does so if he senses something’s wrong. He grabbed a stranger’s pants leg with his bite once and the man said lady please get your dog. Of course I did cause my lil guy could have been hurt, but the man went in opposite direction afterwards. My lil guy drew attention the creep didn’t want. Good Dog!

  • The_Shadow_Knows

    Your little Ruger is so cute!! I see he likes to play X BOX!!

  • Tori

    I have a 8 month old rottweiler lab mix, she is the friendliest puppy ever, and loves the kitten we have. Since the moment I saw her me and my boyfriend knew we couldn’t not keep her. I’m so happy we did, she can learn any trick so fast, and really has the best personality out of every dog that I’ve met. She feels like my child, and she’s spoiled but it’s well deserved! She is glued to me & gets upset every time I leave for work, and I always look forward to the happy welcome I get from her every time I walk through the door. Everyone is right saying a dog is a persons best friend, I didn’t think I could love a dog this much!

  • Rachel Rapps

    I love my dog so much. He knows when I’m upset. Today, actually, I had a panic attack and came home really upset and crying. He licked my face and sat with me.

  • http://www.None.com TomGI

    ← Ricky Jr. son of Ricky is an expert trout spotter just like his dad was. I tell him to “find one” in the local streams and he will hunker down and stalk the bank. When he sees a rainbow or brown he will lay down and stare at it. If it moves up or down the stream he will belly crawl to keep eyes on.

  • http://www.None.com TomGI

    I saw an episode of Huell Howser where the farmer’s field dog loved avocados.

  • http://twitter.com/cpmondello Corey

    Shiva was my best friend, my baby, and my teacher. I had to say good bye to her about four and a half years ago, she was almost 13. This was by far, literally, the worst day of my life. It was worse than loosing a parent to cancer when I was younger; than the “break-up” with my “first-love”; than anything I could have ever imagined. I read some where something along these lines:

    The pain we have to endure once they leave us, is the price we must pay for being allowed to have them in our lives; the joy they give, the lessons they teach, and the unconditional love they give.

    • MilosMommyCries

      Corey, I totally understand. Our Milo JRT died last March 31, we had to euthanize him due to lymphoma that would not respond to chemo/radiation; it was truly, like you said, by far the hardest thing we ever had to do. Milo was our child, he was going to be 12 yrs old; the look in his eyes when he knew he was breaking my heart stays with me. I think he was concerned about me while he could not breath due to the mass in his chest. We brought Milo home from the hospital so he would not need to pass there, the next day a nice vet came to give him a sleep shot. We did it very special for he deserved the best care and a good send off. Thanks for sharing and I am sorry you lost your baby. I don’t think I will ever forget Milo. We have rescued another JRT, Eddy, and he is a love. I think dogs like your Shiva and my Milo and Brittany’s Ruger come along rarely and if we are lucky, we get one – these are known as heart dogs. Warmly, Pat

  • Rachel

    I agree wholeheartedly

  • Debbie Rutter

    My husband and I rescued a 10 week old black lab/golden lab/chow mix we named Buddy Bear AKA Bubbawubba four years ago when my 9yr old Collie/German Shepherd mix, Mystical died unexpectedly from a cancer that ruptured her spleen. She was my baby girl and I loved her so very much, and of course her “sister”, our other dog and I were completely broken when she passed away. I do believe that adopting Bubba was the best thing we did not only for me but for Ginger Marie, who actually cried — tears and everything just like I did.
    Bubba is a Momma’s Boy in every way. If there is such a thing as a 4 legged soul mate, he is mine. I have never had a dog with a personality like he has. He talks and listens to me as well, if not better, than my husband or others in our family, He knows me better than I know myself sometimes. I swear that Ginger, our 14 year old would be running our home, and I would be the one living the pampered pet life, if she had the ability of speech and opposable thumbs!!
    Bubba is one who must be as close to me as he can possibly be and often thinks he is a 100 lb lap dog!! I tend to prefer my dogs to most humans as they are honest, have a no nonsense moral center, and have never done anything to me that was dishonest or hurtful. All my animal children have been the joy of my life and I feel blessed to have loved and been loved by each and every precious one of the dogs, horses and ferrets whom I have shared my life with. They, each with their own very special personalities have enriched my life and are cherished and remembered fondly always. I do believe they have taught me the true meaning of unconditional love that I could never have learned from any human being!!!
    Bless each of you who have critter family members and who have chosen to share your life with one of natures precious life forms whatever it may be.

  • Jaye

    I’ve suffered from a brain disease all my life. It’s under control though I require bi-yearly MRIs. We bought our son a puppy who is now a year and a half old. Recently the pup,Jake, has been staying on my heels and when I have a flare up he actually comes over and lays across my head with his entire body. Within a few minutes the pain begins to subside. There is no moving him. Not even when my husband offers his favorite treat. We knew he was an awesome dog right away but this is too much. He truly is a blessing.