Dog Behaviour

Sue Gilmore MA FCFBA

Q            I think my dog has a “sixth sense”, because he seems to know what I am going to do before I do it. Is this possible?

A            It’s probably fair to say that dogs are acutely aware of our movements and that they learn to predict what we are going to do before we even realise that we have given any indications or signals of our intentions. Dogs as mind-readers? It’s unlikely.

Take, for instance, deciding to take the dog out for a walk. What preparations do you make before you actually tell him that it’s time to go out? We might shut the windows, get our boots out, pick up our keys and mobile phone, etc., all of which is indicative of preparing to leave the house and that’s before we even put our coats on and pick up the dog’s lead. Each action is part of a jigsaw that our sensitive dogs piece together; they are great at observing our behaviour and even before we announce that it’s time for a walk he seems to know!

It’s not that dogs have a psychic ability to read our minds, but their innate sense that enables them to be so in tune with what’s going on around them gives them what we may interpret as such. There are many historical accounts of dogs acting strangely or fleeing areas in advance of earthquakes or tsunamis and from my own experience, my dogs know when it’s going rain soon. The barometric pressure drops along with the temperature as the weather changes; they generally come indoors a few minutes before the rain starts, which is really helpful when I’ve left the washing out!

So why not observe your dog a little more closely, just as he watches you and learn a little more about his behaviour? It will give you more of an insight into how dogs think, which in turn will develop a mutual understanding and a closer bond between you and your dog.