I noticed that during a thunder storm, my male black lab/shepherd mix (~4 yrs) would bark around one second before thunder could be heard. He normally does this with suspicious thudding noises/neighbors. How could he do this? He might only be hearing the low, quieter noise that sometimes comes immediately before the louder part, or something more complicated...?

I read a bit about dogs sensing barometric pressure changes, but I think it's only a thing that happens over hours - not right before a thunderclap. Could it have something to do with a frequency higher/lower than human threshold? Or maybe he hears it through the ground (since sounds travel WAY faster through the ground).



Yes, your dog can "sense" thunder.

Simple science is behind this intelligence of picking up weather conditions by dogs. Dogs are capable of sensing the barometric pressure drop and any shift in static electric field. Change in air pressure and electricity are indications of adverse weather.

As quoted by this article

They can also sense the atmosphere's heat, compression, and temperature change in the air, which alerts the dog that there is a storm coming. Dogs will also use the heightened sense of smell to sniff out when rain and storms are coming. Humans can smell when there is earthy moisture in the air after a storm passes through. With dogs' much more powerful senses of smell, they can smell the changes in the air much before we even know a storm may be coming. Dogs also have an amazing ability to hear things humans cannot, hear different frequencies, and also hear for much greater distances. A dog's ears work independently from one another so they can absorb spacial information and depth much better than we can. This means they can detect sounds that we cannot. In fact, they are able to hear 20 times better than we can.

As quoted by this article

So the reason your dog is barking seemingly just before the thunder clap is he can most likely feel the lightning strike and at the very least the change in static charge and pressure. Also, his hearing is 20 times better than ours so you can bet that the "low rumble" you hear is pretty darn loud for your dog. It's also not unknown for animals to forecast weather. Animals have been known to forecast earthquakes, thunderstorms and even tsunamis before we're aware they're happening.

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