Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Smell of Fear

I've often heard it said "Dogs can tell when you're afraid of them," but I never really thought much about it. That is until we got Ray. I have found it very interesting observing his interaction with other animals and now I know exactly how dogs can tell when your afraid. They smell fear.
I know for a fact now that hounddogs track their prey, not just by smelling the animal's scent, but by smelling the animals fear.
I have seen on numerous occasions, Ray walk right by Moonie (and walk right into Moonie) when she is sitting placidly on the back of the couch or on the floor nearby. But if Moonie walks into the room, sees the blind dog, and then aprehensively slinks off, Ray's head will go up and his nose will start twitching. When Hugo, our scaredey-cat is twitching nervously anywhere nearby, Ray instantly goes into hunt mode.
When we are at the dogpark, Ray only hounds those dogs that are obviously nervous. Ususally it's the little dogs or young dogs but sometimes it's just a newbie that's never been to a dogpark before (and probably will never come again after having Ray blast away in it's face). If no nervous dogs are around, Ray will settle on dogs that are chasing balls or frisbees.
But the reason I am absolutley convinced that Ray smells fear and not just a generic animal smell is this. The other evening, Ray was asleep in his bed in front of the fireplace. I was giving Moonie a pill (a particularly foul-tasting thing if Moonie's reaction is anything to judge by) in another room. The second Moonie realized what I going to do, Ray got up off his bed, and headed our way, his nose twitching like crazy. Moonie hadn't made a sound and I wasn't holding a steak. It's the smell of fear that drives this blind hounddog.


  1. I always figured that is why dogs go directly to the person in a group who is afraid/scared of them. BTW, I was at University Shopping Center today picking up Roxy's flea & tick pills. When I got out of the car I thought I saw Ray sanding a few doors down from the Vet. My heart jumped to my throat and I slowly got nearer calling his name. As I got closed I realized it was not Ray. He "belonged to" the florist there. WHEW!!!

    Roxy's Mom

  2. Huh, I'll have to check out the dog and see what he looks like. We go to the vet there to get Hugo's prescription food. I was actually there today but left Ray at home ( I usually bring him with me).