It’s 11 o’clock at night and you’ve had just a few too many while out with some friends. You manage to get an Uber and head home only to find Terry (that’s your dog) looking at you with a confused look on his face.
Huh. That’s weird. Normally Terry can’t wait to greet you at the door. Even around this time, he’s normally trying to barrel you over and get a few licks in.
You try to give him a smooch but he only backs away, yipping loudly at you as if you’re a stranger.
Wait a minute… he doesn’t actually “know” you’re drunk… does he?
WELL… KIND OF
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, when asking the question as to whether or not your dog knows when you’ve been knocking them back or getting a bit too crazy, the sad answer is “pretty much”.
“How is that possible?” you might be asking right about now and it’s certainly a fair question to ask. After all, it’s not like they know what “alcohol” or “drinking” means.
So how DO they know when you’re drunk?
THEY CAN SMELL IT ON YOU
We all know this. Dogs have an incredible sense of smelling that’s pretty much second to none. And while you may be able to fool your friends and family into thinking you’ve only had “a couple”, your best friend Terry is just way too perceptive for that. According to one finding, it was shown that dogs have over 300 million olfactory senses compared to the measly 60 million located in us.
That’s over 5 TIMES our sense of smell! Not only that, but the portion of a dog’s brain spent analyzing those smells is another 40 times ours.
It’s because of this incredibly sensitive amount of smell that dogs are so often used by the military and police for finding trace scents of different illegal materials such as weapons, narcotics, or even explosives.
So… yeah. They know when you’ve had a few too many.
THEY CAN GAUGE YOUR BODY LANGUAGE
When you walk, when you talk, how you stand, the crook of your neck, all of these things speak to your innate body language and overall body position. It’s why you walk differently than your siblings and why your friend “talks with their hands”. All of these things are subtle, subconscious bodily movements you make without even being aware of it.
You have to realize that every physical movement you make, be it how you breathe or what you say and how you say it, is all just electrical signals from your brain to various parts of your body. When you drink, those signals become delayed and disjointed. Not only that but both your medulla as well as your cerebellum (two aspects of the brain that control physical movement) are both directly impacted and impaired by drinking, making you more likely to stumble around or feel sleepy.
And just like with their sense of smell, dogs can know immediately when something is off with our altered body posture or position. In fact, from their point of view, you can appear as if you’ve been injured.
So, while dogs may not know THAT you are specifically drunk, based on your smell and gait, they can definitely tell WHEN you’ve been knocking them back.
So if you don’t want your little bud stressing out that something is wrong, maybe cut in a bit earlier next time you’re out.
Anna is a traveler, blogger, and a dog lover. She travels around not only to discovery different wineries but also to try different kinds of food. She has two dogs and travels with them as much as she can.