Sounds Only Dogs Can Hear: Science Facts

In this post, we’ll discuss what sound only dogs can hear and why they can hear that sound, what’s the science facts behind that.

Dogs’ superior noses to humans’ are pretty obvious, but how well can they hear? Although you may have read that dogs have much better hearing than people, the truth is a little more complicated. In his book, “How Dogs Think,” Stanley Coren, Ph.D, says, “The truth is that a dog’s hearing is actually hundreds of times better than ours for some sounds, whereas for other sounds, a dog and a human have very similar sound sensitivity levels.”

Signs Your Dog Can Hear Something You Can’t

Your dog will display specific behaviors when hearing or listening to something that you are unable to hear. Additionally, if your dog is bothered by a sound that you cannot hear but that they can, such as a ringtone or another sound, they may display certain behaviors. Keep an eye out for both so that you can turn off the ringtone or other noise when you notice your dog acting distressed or uneasy and protect their tender puppy ears!

Dogs tend to stare at something or at least turn their heads in a direction that doesn’t seem to have anything interesting to pay attention to when they are listening to something you can’t hear. They might even bark, which makes it appear as if they are barking or staring at nothing at all. You and your dog are not going crazy, so don’t worry; they are probably just hearing things you are not.

Other things they might do include cocking their head to one side or perking their ears up or down. Not only will you be able to hear things more clearly, but you will also be able to pinpoint the source of sounds. Depending on the breed of your pup, dogs with more flexible ears may even be able to rotate them.

They will also be somewhat alert in addition to having their ears forward. Depending on the breed of your dog and how they were raised, alertness in puppies can look different. However, most alert dogs typically maintain a relatively still posture so they can hear things more clearly. Along with being forward-facing, their ears might even be moving. Their mouth will be closed as they keep their eyes open and pay attention in an effort to hear and see things more clearly. As a result, they will have their mouths open but their ears closed.

Some sounds, like a dog whistle or a ringtone, are specifically designed for only dogs to hear and pay attention to. Even if your dog dislikes the noise, they will likely still display alert behavior because they won’t be able to identify its source. They might also sob or complain because they want you to know that the noise is upsetting them.

Last but not least, some dogs will attempt to cover their ears or flee from the sound when it annoys them. Therefore, if your dog seems uncomfortable or upset, it’s probably because the noise or pitch is too loud or high and it’s irritating their delicate ears! Like us, our woofers will be bothered by some sounds, so we should try to stay away from them whenever possible.


High-Pitched Sounds

When making higher-pitched noises, dogs really excel. Young children can hear sounds that are higher than 20,000 Hertz (Hz), but the average adult cannot. (The higher the frequency, which is measured in hertz (Hz), the higher the pitch of the sound.) Dogs, on the other hand, have a hearing range of 47,000–65,000 Hz. These noises are much too high-pitched for us to hear.

Dogs are also much better than humans at detecting low-frequency sounds. Decibels (dB) are units used to measure how loud or intense a sound is, with 0 dB representing the typical intensity of a sound that a young person can barely hear. As a result, sounds that are too quiet for humans to hear are given a low decibel rating.

Dogs’ ears are much more sensitive than ours to sounds with a frequency between 3,000 and 12,000 Hz, claims Coren. When those sounds are, on average, between -5 dB and -15 dB, they can be heard. This implies that dogs have hearing that is superior to human hearing. Dogs’ ears are much more sensitive than humans’ ears for sounds above 12,000 Hz, making a comparison pointless.

Wired for Prey

Dogs have excellent hearing in the high-pitched range because of their history as predators. Dogs’ ancestors, wolves, hunted mice and other small rodents, so hearing their squeaks is crucial for survival. Humans have ears that are tuned to the pitch of human speech because they evolved to work together.

This sensitivity to higher-pitched sounds probably explains a number of canine phenomena. Dogs’ highly sensitive ears might be used to predict earthquakes rather than ESP. And rather than having a sixth sense, they probably have the ability to hear the sound of a car before you do, which allows them to anticipate someone’s arrival at your door. As a final point, dogs hear louder noises than humans do, which is why common noises like a vacuum cleaner or power drill can make them so upset. Furthermore, dogs are able to detect high-pitched noises coming from these devices that we are not.

Other Differences

Dogs and humans can both hear these sounds within the remaining detectable frequency range, and our ears have approximately equal sensitivity. The highest frequency at which human ears are sensitive is 2,000 Hz. This frequency falls conveniently in the middle of the range of human speech. However, dogs are much better suited to hearing their prey because they have a maximum sensitivity of 8,000 Hz.

Dogs can also detect minute variations in frequency with amazing accuracy. Coren explains that they can hear “the difference between the musical note Between that note of C and another note, there is a difference of one-eighth of a semitone.” That discredits tone-deaf people. However, compared to dogs, we are better at finding sounds. Dogs require eight degrees of separation in order for them to distinguish between two sounds that are only one degree apart in location.

The History Behind Dogs Hearing Things We Can’t

Doggos descended from wolves thousands of years ago, and as a result, have generally improved hearing. As a result, they still possess a large number of wolf-specific genes.

One reason is that historically, wolves and doggos had to hunt small prey in their natural habitats of the woods, such as mice, rats, bunnies, and squirrels. Canines needed to be able to hear these creatures because they are very quiet and small. They were forced to develop keen hearing as a result.

As for whistles and ringtones in particular, a scientist who was interested in the frequencies that dogs and other animals can hear but that we cannot was the one who came up with the idea of the dog whistle in 1896. Through the years, they have been utilized for training, particularly for military and law enforcement purposes.

Dogs dislike the sounds, so they have also been used in the past to break bad habits. So that their dogs learn that barking is connected to the sound that hurts their ears, some owners, for instance, use them when their dogs bark. Since then, people have even developed ringtones that play sounds at a high frequency that only dogs can hear.

The Science Behind Dog’s Hearing

Numerous studies on our dog’s hearing, including how it functions and why it is so much better than ours, have been conducted because scientists also love dogs.

The physical difference between dog’s ears and human ears is the first thing you’ll notice. ours. Doggos typically have pretty large ears, especially when compared to the size of their heads, in contrast to ours, which are flat against our head and relatively small.) that are really flexible. They can hear more clearly and with a wider field of view than we can, so they are able to hear better than us!

Dogs are twice as good listeners as humans are. They also have a wider frequency range. According to many studies, “dogs hear a frequency range of 40 to 60,000 Hz, whereas the human range is between 20 and 20,000 Hz.” Dogs can hear sounds that we can’t because they have better and farther hearing than humans do.

Training Your Dog to Hear Things

Dog whistles can be used to train your dog, but you can’t really teach it to hear better. Dog whistles are sometimes used as a last resort to stop undesirable behaviors, despite the fact that many owners dislike doing this because the sound of a whistle or ringtone can hurt their dog’s ears.

Every time your dog barks, jumps up, or sits on the counter, for instance, you could use a dog whistle. Because your dog dislikes the sound, if you blow a whistle right after they do something you don’t like, they’ll start to associate the sound with the behavior and try to avoid it whenever possible.

There are additional methods that use negative reinforcement to train your dog to behave badly. You could, for instance, reward them with treats whenever they engage in behavior you find pleasing or tell them where to behave destructively.

Additionally, you can guarantee that your dog’s hearing remains unimpaired for the duration of their life. Avoid taking them to events like concerts or fireworks displays where there will be loud, startling noises. Your dog may become scared by these noises as well as likely suffer from ear pain. Therefore, it is best to avoid them whenever you can.

Why DON’T Dogs Like Certain Sounds?

It probably won’t come as a surprise that dogs are afraid of fireworks, thunderstorms, and vacuum cleaners because of the loud noises they make. What you might not realize is that your dog may perceive these sounds as being much louder than you do. Noises that are objectively loud are amplified further through a dog’s ears because dogs are extremely sensitive to a variety of sounds, even soft ones. Dogs can be quite frightened by the sudden booms of a Fourth of July celebration or a midsummer thunderstorm.

High frequency sensitivity affects how furry friends respond to specific noises. Smoke alarms, police sirens, and even crying babies have a greater impact on dogs and their sensitive ears. Your pup may pant, hide, pace, tremble, or have accidents in the potty as a result of being afraid of noises. Take your dog to a location where the noise will be less intense if your dog exhibits these symptoms and you are unable to control the noise.

Why DO Dogs Like Certain Sounds?

Dogs enjoy sounds that make them think of prey because they have retained their wolf-like hunting instincts. The mouse-like sound of squeaky play toys captivates puppies and is a prime example of the kind of sounds dogs enjoy. The next time you see your best friend pounce on a squeaky ball, remember that interesting fact about dogs’ ancestry! As many dog breeds were initially bred to hunt birds, chirping birds can also arouse excitement. When your dog is outside, just keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t startle any wildlife.

Although instincts play a large part in the sounds dogs enjoy, many of these sounds have become favorites due to positive associations. Your dog might enjoy hearing the crinkle of a treat bag, the ring of the doorbell, or even the sound of your voice!

How to Make the Best of Your Dog’s Listening Skills

Cue words such as “sit” and “stay” are important dog training tools, but did you know the way you speak these phrases can be even more impactful? A study conducted by researchers from Eötvös Loránd University revealed that hearing praise words spoken with a “praising inflection” activated the reward center of the brain. Conversely, neutrally spoken words of praise had no effect on the brain’s reward system. Using an affectionate tone of voice for a job well done or a stern “no!” after misbehavior will help you capitalize on those perceptive dog hearing abilities and become truly harmonious with your pooch.

Testing a Dog’s Hearing

Researchers can ask their test subjects to provide information about human hearing, but how do they learn about dog hearing? Dogs were trained in the early studies to press a lever beneath a speaker when they heard a sound. The ability of a dog’s hearing can now be tested without the dog having to do anything. The Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) hearing test is as easy as sticking electrodes on a dog’s head and putting headphones in his ears. Sounds are played through the earphones, and the dog is said to have heard the sound if there is electrical activity in its brain. The test only lasts a short while and doesn’t hurt the dog.

Dogs can experience hearing loss, similar to humans, as they age or as a result of other conditions, like a serious ear infection. The BAER test is a fantastic tool for assessing hearing loss severity. Most dogs can adjust to losing their ears well, and you can still communicate with them by using hand signals and body language. The ability to detect high-pitched sounds is also typically the last to go, so louder, high-frequency sounds, like a whistle, may still be effective even if your dog is unable to hear your voice.

Conclusion: Sounds Only Dogs Can Hear

In addition to their many impressive qualities, dogs are even more impressive because they can hear a wide range of sounds that humans cannot. Think about the variety of extremely quiet or high-pitched sounds your dog might be hearing the next time you notice them perking up out of nowhere. We can only speculate as humans!


What Frequency Do Dogs Hate?

about 25,000 hertz

Dogs can get uncomfortable around loud noises because they are so sensitive to sound. However, frequencies that are about 25,000 hertz are when dogs become annoyed by the sound. The louder that these sounds become, the more uncomfortable your dog will be.

What Sounds Can Dogs Hear Best?

It has been proven by canine experts that hard consonant sounds elicit a stronger response in dogs than soft consonant sounds.

What Sounds Can Only Dogs Hear?

High-Pitched Sounds

Although young children can hear higher frequencies, the average adult cannot hear sounds above 20,000 Hertz (Hz). (A sound’s frequency is measured in Hertz, and the higher the frequency, the higher pitched the sound will be.) Dogs, on the other hand, can hear sounds as high as 47,000 to 65,000 Hz.