At some point in time, you've probably heard someone say that dogs can predict the weather. You would be forgiven for laughing it off as another one of the many myths associated with these four-legged companions. But wait. Not so fast! There's more truth to it than you might think. So, can dogs really predict the weather? And if so, how do they do it? Let's find out.
It's True, Dogs Can Predict the Weather
Add predicting the weather to your dog's list of talents alongside sitting, staying, and being a four-legged garbage disposal. It's pretty amazing, right? Okay, so maybe "predict" is a strong word. It would be more accurate to say that dogs can sense the approaching weather. They can't tell you the exact temperature, when a storm will be arriving, how much rain there will be, or whether you're going to get struck by lightning. They just know that something is up and that it's probably a good idea to stay indoors.
How Dogs 'Predict' Weather
But how do they do it? Unfortunately, your dog isn't actually a magical creature who can predict the future. The reality is a little more down-to-earth, but it's still pretty interesting. There are a few mechanisms that could explain your dog's ability to sense approaching weather, like:
Sound - Dogs have a fantastic sense of hearing — that's a given. They can use their hypersensitive ears to hear approaching storms well before we humans can. So, if your dog starts freaking out and you can't figure out why then maybe it's just the distant rumble of thunder.
Smell - Dogs can sniff out just about anything. This is another fact that should come as no surprise. But did you know that they can also smell the rain? They are also able to smell the metallic scent of ionized particles left behind by lightning strikes.
Pressure - Dogs don't just have a great set of ears and a nose that can't be fooled. They are also very sensitive to changes in the atmosphere. With storms, you get a drop in the barometric pressure and your dog is acutely aware of this. Thanks to this, your dog might know a storm is approaching before there's even a cloud in the sky.
And who knows, there could be other factors at play here too. Maybe your dog really is psychic!
Do Dogs Have a Sixth Sense?
There are also documented cases of dogs and other animals reacting to events like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions well before anyone else is aware of them. China has gone so far as to recruit volunteers to observe animals as a part of their earthquake prediction program. People living near volcanos in Europe also frequently rely on their animals as an early warning system.
Of course, this is all still unproven. On top of that, no one is quite sure what mechanism would explain it. It could be that dogs are just more sensitive to subtle vibrations in the earth's crust than we are. The bottom line is that you probably shouldn't run to your volcano shelter (you do have one of these, right?) every time your dog starts acting funny, but it's interesting to think about nonetheless.
Dogs can 'predict' the weather to a certain extent. They probably couldn't tell you exactly when it'll be here or how bad it's going to get, but they are definitely sensitive to the sounds, smells, and atmospheric changes that accompany rain and storms. It makes sense if you think about it. Animals need to be aware of the weather just as much as we do — maybe even more!