OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- Your dog knows things about you. Even if you don’t tell him.
Does your dog get clingy when you're depressed or feeling sick? When you argue, does your dog go and hide?
Dogs aren't mind readers but at some point in history, early dogs learned to decode human non-verbal language. The better they anticipated our thoughts and feelings, the more they were rewarded with food, shelter and affection.
Approximately 90% of human communication is nonverbal. Your posture, head carriage, gait, and facial expressions speak volumes about your mood and motivation. Act happy and your dog will wag excitedly and present her favorite toy for you to toss. Hang your head in sorrow and she'll slink over and affectionately press her head in your lap.
Your dog may not understand every word you say, but she knows your tone of voice. Dogs can hear the different inflections in your voice that mean that you're happy, anxious, sad, tentative, or angry. This is why your dog skulks away the minute you discover the overturned kitchen trash. To an astute dog, a sound is worth a thousand words.
A dog's sense of smell is approximately one million times more sensitive than ours. So subtle changes in a person's scent are obvious to your pet, just as you might notice a person has lost some weight or got a new haircut.
This may be one way that dogs detect illness. When you are sick, your metabolism changes and different chemicals appear in your breath. A dog can smell this. They can also detect anxiety (the old adage a dog can smell fear) --when you're anxious, you start to perspire lightly. It may not be visible, and you can't smell it, but a dog can.
Dogs are especially adept at reading facial expressions. Try this mirroring experiment: sit facing your dog and make and exaggerated happy face. Your dog will light up as well: big grin, relaxed ears, open facial expression. Now, furrow your brow and look stern. Your dog will likely recoil, avert her eyes, and look guilty as charged. Need your own mood monitor? Archie is available for adoption.