Study Finds Dogs Can Smell When Their Humans Are Stressed

Have you ever noticed that your dog seems to react when you are stressed out? Even if you don’t think you are acting any differently, it seems as if your dog is able to pick up on your emotions.

As it turns out, you may be closer to the truth than you ever realized.

Photo: Unsplash/Elisa Ventur

A new study has been published that shows that when you are stressed out, you smell differently. Humans may not be able to pick up on it but the dogs in the study were able to determine whether someone was stressed out or relaxed 93.75% of the time.

The funny thing is, it wasn’t only the family that was taking part in the study, even strangers were an open book to the canine participants. Those participants included four dogs from Northern Ireland. Their names were Treo, Fingal, Soot, and Winnie. Two of the dogs were mixed breeds, one was a cockapoo, and the other a Cocker spaniel.

Photo: Unsplash/FLOUFFY

36 human participants also took place in the study. Both breath and sweat samples were taken from the participants before and after they had to do a quickly timed math problem. In order to verify that they had an increased stress level, the researchers monitored their heart rate and blood pressure.

They would then hold the sample of the sweat or breath sent up to the dog for five seconds and the dogs were trained whether someone was stressed out or not.

The four dogs were able to determine if somebody was stressed out in 675 out of the 720 trials that were completed. The dog with the lowest percentage was 90% and the highest was over 97%!

Photo: Unsplash/Adam Griffith

According to a press release, Clara Wilson, the author of the study said: “The findings show that we, as humans, produce different smells through our sweat and breath when we are stressed and dogs can tell this apart from our smell when relaxed – even if it is someone they do not know.”

One of the stress hormones that could have been picked up by the dogs was cortisol. There may have been other stress hormones and indicators that the dogs were able to determine as well.

Photo: Unsplash/Christian Erfurt

Wilson went on to say that, thanks to the research, they were able to determine the dogs did not need audio or visual cues to know if their human was stressed out. It’s a new study that proves that dogs can tell from the smell of our breath and sweat if we are stressed or not.

This is something that we have all understood for quite some time because we see it in real life. It may also indicate that it could be used to train dogs that are involved with therapy as well.

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