Two dogs being woken up from a nap by the magnitude 4.0 earthquake that hit the San Francisco Bay area on Monday, August 17, were caught on their doggie cam seemingly reacting a few seconds before the shaking.
That’s because, a CBS News report explained, the dogs were feeling the P-waves of the quake—the initial waves that cause a high-frequency sound, which dogs can sense. “[Dogs] are oftentimes are more sensitive to the P-waves that people are,” a representative with U.S. Geographical Survey told CBS. The report, available here, compared the video of the dogs with one a baby monitor captured of a child waking up after the shaking started.
AKC Family Dog columnist Stanley Coren addressed this type of occurrence in a Psychology Today column after conducting a study of his own. Coren had captured data of about 200 dogs’ stress levels on the day of an earthquake in 2001 (he was conducting a different study on anxiety for which he was collecting the data).
He found that a significant portion of the dogs being monitored showed an increase in anxiety the day of the earthquake. And more specifically, dogs with floppy ears and hair-impaired dogs showed little to no change in stress levels. The dogs who showed the greatest increase in anxiety were dogs with smaller heads. Coren notes that dogs with smaller heads are proven to be more sensitive to high-frequency sounds, like those emitted during a quake’s P-waves.
“The fact dogs with smaller head size are more responsive is consistent with a presumption that higher frequency sounds serve as the signal predicting an impending earthquake, perhaps from rocks scraping or breaking underground,” Coren summarized.
So there you have it, folks.