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Dogs can smell when someone’s stressed

"This is the first study of its kind and it provides evidence that dogs can smell stress from breath and sweat alone."

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(Photo by Daniel Kondrashin via Pexels)

By Alice Clifford via SWNS

Dogs can sniff out stress, reveals a new study.

The finding will help better train assistance and therapy dogs to make them aware when their owner is under pressure.

Researchers collected sweat and breath samples from 36 people before and after they did a difficult maths problem.

The participants also self-reported their stress levels both before and after the task.

The researchers only used samples where the person's blood pressure and heart rate had increased.

Four dogs, Treo, Fingal, Soot and Winnie, all were sent to sniff out the stress samples.

They were given one person's relaxed and stressed sample, and after a quick investigation, each dog was able to pick out the stressed out smell.

The results have been published in the journal PLOS ONE.

“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," said Clara Wilson, a PhD student in the School of Psychology at Queen’s University Belfast.

“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.

“It also helps to shed more light on the human-dog relationship and adds to our understanding of how dogs may interpret and interact with human psychological states.”

The owner of the super sniffer Treo, a two-year-old Cocker Spaniel, said: “As the owner of a dog that thrives on sniffing, we were delighted and curious to see Treo 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.

“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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