A huge number of pet owners are convinced that their pets have extrasensory powers when it comes to certain aspects of life-whether this takes the form of a dog that hates loud noises acting strangely for several hours before a thunderstorm hits, or a cat that is apt to stare avidly into space, looking at “ghosts.”
While there is often a fair amount of anthropomorphism or mysticism in play when people make statements about their pets “just knowing” certain things, there are also a whole range of other things that science says our pets really do know about before we do, and if we can learn to read their cues and translate it into useable data, we too can get a head start on telling the future too!
In this article, we will look at five things that certain pets may know about before you do, to give you a head start on decoding their behaviour! Read on to learn more.
Anyone who owns a dog will be familiar with the following scenario-you’re not expecting anyone popping over and everyone at home is relaxed and doing their own thing, when the family dog starts pacing, looking out of the windows, barking, going to the door, or generally making the sort of fuss that you usually associate with the sound of the doorbell.
Whilst dogs and their personal predictions may not pay off 100% of the time, it is very common to find that just at the point that you become exasperated and tell your dog to calm down because no one is coming, someone actually appears at the door-but how can they tell?
A range of factors come into play here, such as potentially knowing roughly what time someone is coming home, as well as being able to smell an approach well before people can, and of course, being able to detect minute sounds that humans miss, such as a car idling or someone walking up to the door.
One thing that most pets that hate thunderstorms have in common is knowing when one if coming and beginning to act up way ahead of the first claps of thunder! Whilst in some cases it is easy to tell when a storm is coming due to the state of the sky, the charge in the air and the usual patterns of the weather, certain pets like dogs, cats and even rodents usually know with great certainty when a storm is coming, even on an otherwise still, clear day.
Pets that are not bothered by bad weather are unlikely to behave oddly, but if storms bother your pet, they may begin acting strangely or becoming nervous well in advance.
It is likely that pets are more in-tune with the fine balances of air pressure and the electrical charges in the air caused by close weather than people are, which gives them an evolutionary head-start in terms of hunkering down and riding it out when a storm is coming.
Our full understanding of what dogs know, sense and understand is something that is continually growing, and we are only now just about getting to grips with the full range of skills that dogs actually have. One thing that many people suffering from epilepsy and other seizure-related conditions have been saying for years is that their dogs (and in some cases, even cats) know when a seizure is in the offing, and may begin to become anxious or act strangely-to the point that this actually serves as an early warning system for the person in question.
Scientists have now found that there is truth in the tale as well, and certain types of dogs that are especially sensitive to picking up these cues are now being trained as specialist seizure detection dogs!
However, science still cannot tell us how it is that some pets just know this!
The acute, highly-attuned canine sense of smell is immeasurably better than our own, and some of the best scenting dog breeds such as the Bloodhound have an almost supernatural ability to find, retain and chase down a scent.
Scientists have found that by exposing some of the best scenting dogs to samples of tissue taken from certain types of cancers and other conditions such as diabetes, such dogs can retain the scent memory and detect it again in the future in absolutely minute quantities, such as if they smell it on a person who may be suffering from the same illness.
This skill is actually used as part of the initial diagnostic tests for some conditions-but due to the difficulty in getting samples of different affected tissues, there are nowhere near as many trained dogs working in this field as there could be!
Finally, urban legends about pets being able to predict death have abounded for many centuries, but there may be a grain of truth in the story. Well-publicised incidents such as the case of the nursing home cat that predicted death by cuddling up on the bed of people who later died within a day or so abound across the country, and it is currently thought that cats and possibly other animals may be drawn to the small spike in body heat of people who are close to death-although of course they may just be picking the most comfortable spot!