Can dogs smell fear? © Getty Images

Can dogs smell fear?

Like wolves, dogs have very sensitive senses.

Asked by: Andreo Crnjac, Bosnia and Herzegovina


Yes, in at least two ways. First they are highly sensitive to body language, as were their ancestors, grey wolves. Like them, domestic dogs have the instincts needed to hunt in packs and organise themselves into a hierarchy. So each dog needs to know its place and respond to how others behave. All this can be seen in their reactions to us. People who fear dogs often stiffen up and stare straight at them, which dogs can interpret as aggression.

Whether smell is involved remains unproven, but when we are afraid we sweat more and secrete different chemicals onto our skins. So it’s not impossible that dogs can literally smell our fear.


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