Cats and Dogs
Article Rating
1 звезда2 звезды3 звезды4 звезды5 звезд

How do dogs know you are coming home?

Your Dog’s Secret to Knowing When You’ll Be Home

We all know that dogs have superpowers—super dog hearing, excellent sniffing ability, and of course, superior comforting skills when you’re feeling a little blue. But one of their best tricks? It has to be their knack for somehow knowing when your car is approaching so that they can enthusiastically welcome you home.

How do they do it? Do dogs really have a sixth sense? How else can you explain this daily ritual?

In this article, we’re going to reveal just how far dog senses go when it comes to recognizing cars. It may not be a sixth sense, but the tools that your pupper uses to recognize your car will amaze you all the same!

Let’s start with the star of the show: dog hearing
We all know that dogs have amazing hearing. After all, your dog’s ears are much more powerful than yours, especially when it comes to high pitched sounds. So it’s not too surprising that your dog would be able to hear your car approaching.

But just how good are they?

Well, think about it this way. If you live in a quiet neighborhood, and you drive a car that has a distinctive sound (think squeaky breaks or powerful engine), chances are, everyone in the neighborhood will be able to hear your coming—not just your dog. But, let’s say that you live in a busier area and your car sounds just about the same as any other car on the block. Then, your family members may not know it’s you until you pull into the driveway or garage.

Your dog on the other hand, will probably still be able to pick up on your exciting return, even when you’re far out of range of any humans. Because of their great sense of hearing, it’s likely that your pup can pick up on the nuances of your car’s engine that allows them to differentiate your car from others.

And then, there’s the question of range. How close do you have to be for your dog to start running laps around the house in anticipation? Well, there are a variety of factors at play, here—the ambient noise in your neighborhood, the details of your car engine, and your doggo’s unique abilities.

If you want to test it out for yourself, you can set up an easy experiment. To start, send a message to someone in your home that you’re on the way so that they can observe your pup. As soon as your dog starts to show signs that you’re on their radar—perked up ears, head tilts, enthusiastic tail wagging—have them call you immediately so that you can make note of your location. Try it out a few times – you’ll be amazed at your dog’s car sensing abilities!

Does it all come down to dog hearing? Or are there other senses at work?
While hearing is one of the strongest senses that dogs may use to recognize their owner’s car, it’s not the only one. There are a few more tricks up your pup’s sleeve!

Sight and smell are two additional dog senses that help your furry friend track your car. Upon sight, your doggo will easily be able to pick out your car’s make and model. They may even be able to identify your car’s color if you drive something that stands out in a dog’s vision, like bright blue or yellow. Those visual clues plus your dog’s excellent sense of smell allow them to differentiate your car from a similar-looking one.

Of course, your dog may not be correct 100% of the time! You might have noticed your pupper pulling you to the wrong car in the parking lot, and there even have been stories of doggos jumping into the wrong truck bed! No dog is perfect, and sometimes their excitement gets the better of them!

Car identification goes beyond dog hearing and other senses
So far, it’s pretty clear that dog senses are amazing. But there might be another reason why your pooch waits by the door when you come home—something called time consciousness. It’s the fascinating way that your doggo can tell time, even without being able to read a clock.

Dogs, like many other animals, have a circadian rhythm which tells them when to wake up, when to take their afternoon nap, and when dinner will be served. They’re also able to track the passage of a day with external cues, like the changes in light and temperature. When you throw in more details, your pup can make associations to figure out when you’re likely to come home. For example, maybe you come home during rush hour, and your pooch can hear the traffic building up on the nearby freeway. Or, perhaps you always arrive just after the UPS driver does the daily rounds in your neighborhood. Over time, your doggo will follow a list of cues to pinpoint when you usually arrive. And while we’re still learning about how dogs conceptualize time, it’s pretty clear that your pupper has a special place in their daily schedule to welcome you home.

Our favorite story about dogs recognizing their owner’s car
Here at BreezeGuard, we love to hear stories of dogs recognizing their owner’s car, and one story in particular has really warmed our hearts: the daily celebrations of Opal the deaf and blind pup from Washington.

Despite being unable to hear or see, Opal always knows when her beloved owner is driving down the street towards home. Maybe she relies on her sense of smell, engine vibrations, or time tracking skills—whatever the case, you can see her alertness melt into adorable excitement as soon as she realizes her best friend is home!

Traveling with Pets

CDC’s current rules and requirements for the temporary suspension of dogs from high-risk countries for dog rabies remain effective until June 10, 2022. On this date, new requirements will become effective.

photo of a dog on an airplane

Photo Credit: Audilis Sanchez, CDC

Taking your dog or cat on a flight abroad? Make sure you have your pet’s documents when traveling internationally and returning home to the United States. Leave yourself plenty of time before the trip to take care of your pet’s required medical care and paperwork. Remember to start the process early.

First Stop—Your Vet’s Office

If you are traveling internationally, tell your veterinarian about your plans as soon as possible. Together, you can make sure your pet is healthy enough to travel and meets the requirements for your destination country and for your return to the United States. Requirements may include

  • Blood tests
  • Vaccinations
  • Microchips for identification
  • Permits
  • Health certificates

Airlines and countries often have different requirements, so make sure you know what the specific ones are.

Research How to Fly with Your Pet

photo of a veterinarian with a dog

Talk to your vet about your travel plans and your dog’s rabies vaccination. Photo credit: David Heaberlin, CDC

Give yourself plenty of time to do your homework before your trip. A great place to start is the Pet Travel website of the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).


Different airlines have different rules about whether and how a pet can travel. Depending on the airline, your pet may be able to travel on your flight either in the cabin or in the cargo hold. Confirm this ahead of time with your airline.

On airlines that allow pets to travel, only small dogs and cats that can fit in special carriers under the seat are allowed in the cabin. Their owners must care for them during any layovers. Some airlines may not allow them in the cabin and will transport them as cargo in a heated and ventilated hold. Cats and dogs may travel and rest better this way, since it is quieter and darker, according to the International Air Transport Association.

photo of a woman walking through airport with a dog

Research how to fly with your pet. Photo credit: Misty Ellis, CDC

Another way for your pet to travel is on a separate flight as an air cargo shipment. If this is your preference, or a requirement based on your dog’s size or the destination country’s rules, then get your pet used to the shipping kennel ahead of time. Make sure the door latches securely to avoid any mishaps in transit. Ask your veterinarian for advice about when to give food and water. If a pet is traveling as an air cargo shipment , you must make arrangements for pickup at the final destination.

Some US carriers don’t allow pets to be shipped between May and September, the hottest months for animals to travel in the Northern Hemisphere. No matter what time of year, safety is always a concern when pets travel by airplane. If absolutely necessary for a dog or cat to travel in cargo, it must be in a sturdy container with enough room to stand and sit, to turn around normally while standing, and to lie down in a natural position. For more information, visit the US Department of Agriculture pet travel website .

When waiting for a connecting flight, you may have to care for a pet traveling with you in the cabin, while the airline staff or ground handlers care for a pet traveling in cargo. Check with your airline(s) beforehand to see what is required.

Consider Your Pet’s Comfort

photo of a woman checking arrivals and departures screen

Consider your pet’s comfort when traveling. Photo credit: Misty Ellis, CDC

Loading and unloading can be the most stressful part of travel for animals. Consider these tips:

  • Get your pet used to its carrier before the flight.
  • Purchase flights with fewer connections or layovers.
  • Pick departure and arrival times to avoid extreme heat or cold. For example, planning a nighttime arrival to a hot destination may be better for your pet.
  • Consult with your veterinarian. The International Air Transport Association discourages the use of sedatives or tranquilizers because they could harm animals while in flight.
  • Walk your pet before leaving home and again before checking in.
  • If your pet is allowed in the cabin, check in as late as possible to reduce stress.
  • If your pet will be transported as cargo, check in early so it can go to the quiet and dimly lit hold of the plane.

Cruise Ships and Travel by Sea

Different cruise ships have different rules about whether a pet or service animal can travel with you and what documents they require. Confirm this ahead of time with your cruise ship. If you travel with your pets internationally on a cruise ship or other maritime vessel, you will be required to meet federal entry requirements to enter or re-enter the United States with your pets. Note that CDC has temporarily suspended the importation of dogs arriving from countries that CDC considers high risk for dog rabies, including dogs that have visited a high-risk country in the past 6 months.

Requirements for Dogs Leaving the United States

CDC does not have requirements for dogs leaving the United States. However, if you plan to return to the United States with your dog, the dog will be required to meet the same entry requirements as dogs arriving from foreign countries (see below). If you plan to take your dog to a country at high risk for dog rabies, be sure to review the importation requirements before leaving the United States, because your dog may not be allowed to return to the United States due to the current temporary suspension, which applies to dogs that live in the United States and have traveled to high-risk countries, even if only for a short visit.

Visit the US Department of Agriculture website for pet entry requirements in foreign countries.

Requirements for Dogs Arriving in the United States

A CDC public health officer checks the rabies vaccination certificate of a dog in a kennel just arrived into the United States. Photo credit to Derek Sakris, CDC.

Meet the requirements for dogs entering the United States. Photo credit: Derek Sakris, CDC

Whether returning or coming to the United States, all dogs must appear healthy. There is a temporary suspension for dogs imported from countries that CDC considers high risk for dog rabies.

Some states may require vaccinations and health certificates. Check with your destination state’s health department before you leave on your trip.

Some airlines, cities, or states restrict certain breeds, so be sure to check before you travel.

The US Department of Agriculture has additional restrictions for some dogs arriving in the United States, such as working dogs and dogs intended for resale or adoption.

Requirements for Cats Arriving in the United States

Cats aren’t required by CDC to have a rabies vaccination certificate to enter the United States. However, most states and many other countries require them for cats, and CDC recommends that all cats be vaccinated against rabies. Be sure to check your destination’s requirements and ask your veterinarian before traveling.

Other kinds of pets

If your pet is not a cat or dog, there may be different requirements. Some animals, such as primates (monkeys and apes) or African rodents, won’t be allowed back into the United States. Even if they originally came from the United States, they can’t be brought back here as pets.

photo of a dog at the beach

With careful planning, your pet can stay healthy and safe while traveling. Photo credit: Audilis Sanchez, CDC

Illness or Death of a Pet During Travel

Despite all precautions, pets sometimes get sick or even die on an airplane. Public health officials are required to make sure an animal didn’t die of a disease that can spread to people. They may have to do an animal autopsy or conduct other tests, at your cost, to figure out the cause of death. The animal’s remains often cannot be returned to you after this testing.

Think of Different Options

Make sure your pet is healthy enough to travel by air. If you have any doubts, consider leaving your pet with a trusted friend, family member, or boarding kennel during your trip, or taking another mode of transportation.

With careful planning, your pet will arrive both at its destination and return home healthy and safe.

More Information

  • International Dog Adoptions: Get the Facts
    • Information on Dog Importation for US Rescues, Shelters, and Adoption Agencies
    • Information on Dog Importation for US Veterinary Clinics
    • International Air Transport Association- Traveler’s Pet Corner
    • Animal Transportation Association
    • International Pet and Animal Transportation Association
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    • U.S. Department of Agriculture
    • National Agricultural Library
    • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
    • U.S. Department of State
    • U.S. Department of Transportation
    • American Veterinary Medical Association
    • CDC’s Healthy Pets, Healthy People website

    6 Incredible Things Dogs Can Sense Before They Happen


    Our dogs can be so intuitive that it’s almost like they have a sixth sense. But while you may wonder whether they have the supernatural gift of prediction, it’s more likely that their keen five senses give them their remarkable abilities.

    A dog’s ears can hear four times (or more!) better than a human’s, while their noses are up to tens of thousands of times better than ours. In addition, they’re incredibly in-tune with their environments and their favorite people, so it’s really no wonder that they can detect certain shifts and changes before we humans can.

    There our so many reasons are dogs amaze us, and below are 5 incredible things that they can often sense before they happen.

    1. Natural Disasters

    There are stories dating back centuries of dogs fleeing areas just before natural disasters, like earthquakes, tornadoes, and tsunamis, have hit. From the earthquake that shook the Greek city of Helice in 373 B.C. to the massive tsunami that devastated Sri Lanka and India in 2004, our pups (as well as other animals) have been credited to perceiving such disasters before they actually happened.

    It’s tough to get science to back this up — after all, how would you replicate these sorts of events in a controlled setting? — but many of the pup parents reading this would trust the instincts of their intuitive pals, like if they started acting panicked or heading toward higher ground.

    It’s thought that our dogs’ fine-tuned senses can pick up on atmospheric changes long before we humans can. It’s possible that they can feel subtle vibrations, smell changes in weather, and hear the rumblings of distant thunder or even movement beneath the ground; all before the storm is close enough for us to know it’s coming.

    2. Storms

    Adding to the point above, our pups are very in-tune with the weather, even if it’s just a summer rainstorm… and especially if they’re afraid of thunder!

    According to Cesar’s Way, our dogs can easily detect “the drop in barometric pressure and the shift in the static electric field that comes prior to climate changes” even before the rain starts to fall. Fearful dogs may become anxious or even head for the “shelter” of their favorite bed or corner in anticipation of the storm.

    3. When There’s a Baby on the Way

    Dogs can usually tell when their human moms are pregnant for a number of reasons. Whether they realize that there’s a human sibling on the way is unclear, but they can definitely tell that something’s going on!

    Aside from physical changes like a growing belly and differences in movements and stride, dogs can smell changes in a woman’s hormones, and have even been known to act anxious just before she goes into labor. Some people even swear that their pup knew that they were pregnant before they did!

    4. When You’re About to Come Home

    Is your pooch always waiting for you the second you walk through the door?

    According to NC State University, your pup picks up on cues that alert them to your arrival. For instance, they’ve probably learned that the sound of a car pulling into the driveway — perhaps, followed by the slam of a door — means that you’re about to walk in. And while they may not be able to read a clock, our loyal creatures of habit may be used to us coming home every day at a certain time. It’s part of their schedule… after all, they seem to have their mealtimes down-pat, right?

    5. Medical Conditions

    You’re probably well aware that many dogs are “employed” to help sense medical conditions like diabetes, seizures, and have even been known to sniff out cancer. But how do they know?

    Oftentimes, it’s all in their noses. Former vet tech and writer Dina Fantegrossi explains how dogs can sense blood sugar changes in their humans:

    “Scientists have discovered that what [dogs] are detecting in a hypoglycemic episode is isoprene, a common natural chemical found in human breath that rises significantly as blood sugar plummets. “

    What’s more, their incredible noses can also sniff out cancer cells, which give off a different scent than healthy cells. When dogs are trained how to identify and differentiate these smells, they can alert people before the sickness spreads.

    As for detecting oncoming seizures? Scientists aren’t quite sure. It could be that our pups pick up on scents or changes in behavior just before or just after the episodes are in progress, and perhaps they get better at noticing these signs the more they get to know their owners. Their worlds revolve us, after all; they can sense subtle changes without us even realizing them!

    6. An Altercation with an Ill-Intentioned Person

    There are some pup parents who swear that their companions have alerted them of “bad” people, thus helping them avoid a potentially dangerous situation.

    As it turns out, these stories are likely true, especially coming from people who are closely bonded with their dogs. Former groomer and writer Jennifer Nelson explains:

    “There are several possible explanations for this. The leading theory is that dogs use their keen sense of smell to sniff out chemical changes in the pheromones that people emit that would indicate that they have bad intentions… When a person is acting aggressively, their brain chemistry changes in a way that dogs can smell, causing them to react to a potential threat before their human has perceived the threat.”

    She goes on to say that a dog’s alertness or protectiveness may also be a response to their human’s increased heart rate and anxiety, which they can sense. Or, perhaps dogs do have a sixth sense and are more likely to trust their intuition than us logically-minded people.

    Most dogs are very protective of their people, so their first instinct when something scary happens may be to make sure their humans stay safe. Plus, many pups stay extra-alert when accompanying their humans through new environments or around strange people.

    What amazing things have your dogs sensed before they happend? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Link to main publication