Did you know your dog might actually be able to predict the weather? No, we aren’t joking. Think about it – has your dog ever began to act strange out of nowhere and then two hours later there’s a thunderstorm? Their ears may perk up, fidget or pace around, whine or bark, turn their heads to the side, and even run for cover. So are they weather predictors?
Well, not quite.
Dogs do have a much greater sense of hearing than humans. Therefore, they can pick up on sounds – like rumbles of thunder – way before we can. And their keen noses can detect an early storm thanks to the rich and earthy smell before a rainstorm occurs.
In fact, lightning has a distinct metallic scent as it ionizes the air.
Storms also cause atmospheric changes – like a drop in the air or water pressure – which can be more noticeable to dogs.
Other than physical aspects, dogs also have strong instincts and reactive natures. If they feel that a storm is about to roll in, they’ll pay close attention and spring into action – like running for cover at the first inkling of a storm.
This particular trait may be a survival instinct passed down from their ancestors who needed to stay safe or seek shelter from a storm.
But, there isn’t much, if any, research on that theory that dogs can actually predict the weather. It’s more based on observed or anecdotal evidence.
Before a tsunami, for example, it was reported that dogs were fleeing the area. Sharks also exhibit this behavior – swimming to deeper waters so they would safe when the barometric pressure drops.
A study from the Journal of Traditional Knowledge in January 2011 states, “Animals are highly tuned into any changes beyond those natural fluctuations, which can signal significant shifts in the weather. These variations can trigger an animal’s survival mechanism. The animals’ instinctive reaction is to seek shelter in the face of potentially violent weather.”
But, this study is only observational and does not provide real quantifiable evidence.
So, it’s more likely that dogs are sensing and reacting to the weather before us humans even notice it.
And if your dog is scared of a storm, there are certain things you can do to help! Try closing the shades or curtains to hide lightning and quiet the noise of thunder and rain. If it’s a more severe storm or your dog is very frightened, you can move them to a quieter room and provide them with their favorite blanket or toy.
Distractions are another way to help your dog deal with a fear of storms. Try playing a game or giving them a treat-filled puzzle toy to get their mind off the storm. Even playing music can help drown out the outside noise.
Just be sure to never scold your dog for reacting to the weather. It’s not their fault and it may even end up upsetting them even more. You can talk with veterinarian if your dog is severely scared of storms and you are out of options.
Even though your dog can’t actually predict the weather, they still have a pretty good idea of when a storm is about to roll in. Make sure to listen to them before you forget your umbrella again.
Thanks BarkPost for the inspiration for this article!