Canine Telepathy? Woo….f

The Amazing Tia

A new study in the journal Learning & Behavior states that dogs are so in tune with us that they can read our minds and that they were likely born with the ability.  Chances are that if you are a dog lover, you didn’t need a journal to tell you that.  Pictured above is my Olde English Bulldogge Tia during one of her daily psychic readings. 

The more time a dog spends around people the better their “canine telepathy” becomes.  It should not surprise anyone (well, almost anyone) that this phenomenon is actually a hyperawareness of their senses and not a paranormal feat.   Most of us who have spent any amount of time around dogs know that they can sense fatigue, anger, depression and other illnesses before we show any outward signs of them.  Certain canines have even been shown to sniff out cancer.

Researchers from the University of Florida, led by Monique Udell, carried out a set of experiments conducted on both wolves and dogs. Each of the animals were allowed to beg for food from either an attentive person or from a person unable to see the animal.  The researchers found that wolves, in addition to dogs, were able to beg successfully from attentive humans.  This shows that both the domesticated and non-domesticated Canids have the capacity to behave in accordance with a human’s attentional state.  It can be inferred that this ability is inborn in the wolf due to their lack of prior interactions with humans.  Both wolves and dogs were far less likely to beg for food when the human had their back turned towards them.

Further experimentation showed that dogs raised as pets (as opposed to growing up in a shelter) were more likely to respond to cues when they had the attention of a human.  The indication is that in the course of living with, and being cared for by humans, they’d learned to better understand our behaviors.  “What this shows is that it’s not a question of nature versus nurture,” explained Udell. “It’s always going to be a combination to the two that informs a dog’s responsiveness to humans.”  Pet dogs have been shown to be capable of responding to human body language and verbal commands equal to, or better than our closest primate cousin, the chimpanzee.

Ok, so the word “telepathy” in the title is somewhat misleading.  I don’t believe in that kind of stuff anyway.  Maybe it should be called canine empathy.


About Guy McCardle

Guy McCardle is an American science writer and skeptic. He is a certified Infection Prevention Specialist and served proudly as a Captain in the Army Medical Corps during Operation Iraqi Freedom. A devoted father and husband, he offers his unique viewpoints regarding science and the public interest.
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7 Responses to Canine Telepathy? Woo….f

  1. hazza says:

    I have two dogs, they do pick up subtle cues from me and get excited when I am about to take them for a walk. I can ask them if they want to go for a walk but they can tell the difference between when I mean it and when I don’t. They just seem to “know”, I never believed they were psychic.

    When we first got our second dog he used to beg while we were having dinner, he quickly learnt that he gets nothing until we are finished. To train him we did not even look at him while eating. Now he just goes and lays down next to our first dog until we are finished.

  2. paul w says:

    I have an interesting anecdote;
    My mother once told me that she knew when Dad was coming home when our Old English Sheepdog would walk to the window beside the door, and wait.
    Dad used to come home at any time during the day, and mum said it was amazing how often the dog knew.
    The dog, btw, only ever stood at the window near the door when a car pulled up outside.

  3. David says:

    Man, if there’s one subject that’ll draw out anecdotes, it’ll be dog stories.

    I’m not able to quickly find the reference, but I recently read some research that aligned some canine pack behaviours with human behaviour and noted that the human/canine relationship has probably been going on for several thousands of years.

    Whilst I don’t recall the paper making reference to any specific natural evolutionary role in this relationship (as opposed to selective breeding), anyone whose ever had a large & agile canine friend would be able to recognise the value of such an animal whilst hunting, fighting, guarding the home & domestic animals etc.

    We had a Kelpie for just over 18 years and it was hard (very hard) not to anthropomorphise much of it’s behaviour. I’d happily admit that our dog was often more attuned to our moods (or more correctly my Wife’s) than I usually was…

  4. Geeta says:

    21st July 2016, I had this lucid dream: my 3 yr old Labrador showed me her paw “telling me’ to see how she and her babies (17 months old young dogs) had been mutilated. She begged and begged that I do everything I could to save them. I told my husband about the dream. Soon I started noticing that my other 4 dogs were beginning to show signs of illness. Between the 21st and 29th they were taken to the vet every day. They had been poisoned and were in renal, liver and respiratory failure. In spite of everything the vets tried, two assed away on the 29th. The same day I asked the vets to have a look at my 3 Labradors. I was reassured that THEY were absolutely fine. I went home but was not at ease. I took them back to the vets and insisted that all blood tests be done on them. The vets did everything to dissuade me. I am a doctor myself by the way. I continued to insist telling the vets they could call me an idiot, a stupid person , anything they wished but wanted these 3 dogs also tested. The results came back the next day. They also were in renal failure with ureas of 150, plus they had some degree of liver failure. The vets were speechless. Treatment was initiated for my mother Labrador and her 2 ‘babies” . Meanwhile I have lost another 2 of my dogs, 4 in all, but the 3 Labradors have been saved. My insistence to have their blood tested was based on the dream and that only. Although losing 4 dogs in 10 days has left me devastated emotionally, there has been an extraordinary lesson of animal human communication I have experienced lately.

    • Doctor of what? I hope not a medical doctor. I require a little more from my doctor than-paraphrase: my telepathic dog was able to self diagnose herself successfully and then she told me what to do in a dream…..

  5. Geeta says:

    Hi, pls see previous post of mine on canine telepathy.

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