Can Dogs Smell Fear?
Often thought to be folklore, dogs being able to smell fear turns out to be more than just a myth. It's not the actual emotion of fear that they smell or even that they necessarily know what they're smelling is fear. Dogs can, however, pick up on the smell of stress related hormones released by changes in emotion. These hormones are released not only into the bloodstream but other bodily fluids like urine, tears and sweat. This will make a scared person or animal smell differently. How much any given dog will notice, care about or react when it comes to these smells will vary greatly but it is safe to say that yes, dogs can indeed smell fear.
Dogs are estimated to have scenting abilities hundreds or even thousands of times greater than humans, so who knows what all they can smell or how they interpret it? Perhaps they can smell confidence too! The only thing that's for sure is that there is a whole world of scents going on that we humans just don't get the pleasure of knowing. Well, that and the obvious fact that stinky stuffs smells great if you have a great sniffer. We will just have to be content living vicariously through our dogs and enjoy observing their joy as they have a good sniff of things.
-Chad Culp, Certified Dog Trainer and Canine Behavior Consultant
© Thriving Canine, 2013