Science & Tech

Dogs can smell when humans are stressed

Dogs can smell when humans are stressed
Playful pet dogs stick their heads out car window to enjoy breeze …

A wholesome study has revealed that dogs can sniff out when their human is stressed – findings that will help train service and therapy dogs.

Researchers in Ireland collected breath and sweat samples from 36 participants before and after they were faced with a complex maths problem. They were also asked to share how it impacted their stress levels, according to Study Finds.

Using the samples where the person's blood pressure and heart rate increased, four dogs, Treo, Fingal, Soot, and Winnie, had to scout out the stressed ones.

The results, published in the journal PLoS ONE, revealed that each dog could do so.

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"The findings show that we, as humans, produce different smells through our sweat and breath when we are stressed, and dogs can tell this apart from our smell when relaxed – even if it is someone they do not know," Clara Wilson, a PhD student in the School of Psychology at Queen’s University Belfast, explained.

Dogs can sense when their owners are stressediStock

"The research highlights that dogs do not need visual or audio cues to pick up on human stress. This is the first study of its kind, and it provides evidence that dogs can smell stress from breath and sweat alone, which could be useful when training service dogs and therapy dogs," Wilson added.

She also said the findings helped "shed more light on the human-dog relationship" as it helped in how dogs may interact with the psychological state of humans.

The owner of two-year-old Cocker Spaniel Treo said she was "delighted" he was able to take part in the study.

"We couldn’t wait to hear the results each week when we collected him. He was always so excited to see the researchers at Queen’s and could find his own way to the laboratory," Helen Parks said.

She added: "The study made us more aware of a dog’s ability to use their nose to ‘see’ the world. We believe this study really developed Treo’s ability to sense a change in emotion at home. The study reinforced for us that dogs are highly sensitive and intuitive animals and there is immense value in using what they do best – sniffing!"

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