Can Dogs Sense Earthquakes Before They Happen?

Two earthquakes struck the California area on the week of the infamous Loma Prieta Earthquake anniversary. With the odd behaviors of the local dogs just before the recent quakes, some have begun to question if dogs have enhanced abilities surrounding natural disasters.

Soon after the earthquakes, Twitter began to explode with multiple accounts of strange behaviors from furry friends. Ranging from coyotes to house dogs, the odd outbursts were everywhere.

“In east la on my side, coyotes and dogs outside were barked frantically before earthquake. Then earthquake happened and then they went quiet.”

“It’s crazy how dogs sense things like earthquakes. This dude started to bark then I s**t you not 5 seconds passed and BOOM, earthquake.”

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Credit: NDS Dog Foundation via Facebook

Strange dog behavior before natural disasters has been reported as far back as 373 BC. There’s no doubt that our dog’s senses are heightened in certain situations, but is there any scientific proof that dogs actually predict earthquakes?

Japanese researchers launched a study in 2011 to investigate the behaviors of dogs after a massive earthquake hit Japan. Researchers questioned 1,259 pet owners, and asked them specific questions regarding their dogs in the minutes and hours leading up to the quake. According to this study, 236 of the owners claimed that their dogs experienced restlessness, neediness, howling, and odd behaviors that day. Sixty percent of these behaviors occurred in the minutes leading up to the earthquake.

Other studies have found that the unusual behavior can be linked to a dog’s ability to sense smaller seismic compressional waves that can occur before an earthquake can be felt by humans. If this is true, then the strange howling and neediness can be tied back to their ability to feel the smaller waves of earthquake before the bigger waves actually hit. They may not actually be predicting an earthquake, but simply feeling waves that we cannot yet feel.

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An actual long term study on this topic can be quite challenging, as it’s impossible to have a controlled study of earthquakes. Earthquakes are unpredictable, making it difficult to plan this research in dogs. Until then, we may have to rely on the public accounts of animal behavior prior to a quake.

No matter what, we can all agree that our furry friends have special qualities that we may never fully understand. So, do you believe that dogs can predict earthquakes and other natural disasters?

Featured Image: National Disaster Search Dog Foundation

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