In every Terminator movie & TV series, you can see that dogs barking is an indication that a Terminator (of any model) is nearby. Many dogs bark in the presence of unknowns, but in the canon dogs bark even when a Terminator isn't in front of their eyes.

As I've seen in the news, dogs have forecast earthquakes a few rare times by using their ultrasound hearing abilities. But, I don't see why this can be reason a dog recognizes a Terminator's presence without seeing it. Terminators shouldn't produce ultrasound waves to give their presence away to the human resistance & also the human resistance uses magnetic mines, not unusual ultrasound detection machines.

Why exactly do dogs bark in the presence of Terminators?

Update (after @Thaddeus 's answer):
Strange smell of 'Meat+Metal' can't be the case because dogs bark at T-1000 too.

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    "I, ... sent before my time/ Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,/ And that so lamely and unfashionable/ That dogs bark at me as I halt by them; ..." – Micah Oct 21 '13 at 5:19
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    My dog barks at the dishwasher, the garage door opener, car doors, and the occasional gust of wind. Why WOULDN'T they bark at Terminators? – Andrew Lewis Oct 21 '13 at 15:14
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    My dog loved everyone but used to bark at my creepy uncle. Dogs know what's up – zipquincy Oct 21 '13 at 15:49
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    Terminators just smell... wrong. – Omegacron Oct 20 '14 at 20:23
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    "dogs bark at T-1000 too." - but T-1000 was an intruder in their house. The fact that it looked like Janelle means nothing with an animal with such a good sense of smell. (In fact looking like Janelle but not even smelling human would have probably wierded the dog out even more) – colmde Nov 28 '17 at 14:41

Dogs are blessed with two sensory organs whose ranges are far beyond our human equivalents.

Dogs have a superior sense of smell.

  • Some breeds of dogs can detect the difference between just a few cells of a human being and can be trained to recognize differences in cellular material such as the difference between cancerous and non-cancerous cells.
  • Bloodhounds can be trained to track a scent with little more than a half a dozen skin cells.

Dogs have a superior range of auditory capacity.


  • man: 64 Hz - 23,000 Hz
  • dog: 67 Hz - 45,000 Hz
  • cat: 45 Hz - 64,000 Hz

Both of these senses are so far beyond human capacity they are able to detect things unable to be heard or smelled by even the sharpest of human senses.

  • A Terminator is a cyborg. A metallic machine covered with an organic exoskeleton of grown and somehow sustained flesh.

  • Since we are never given a physical specification of the process by which they are powered, cooled, fluids or materials used to ensure their performance, it makes sense the humans would destroy Terminators and then train their dogs to recognize any signature scents.

  • These scents could include fluids used in their manufacturer, exuded during their operation, trace ozone or other unique chemical compounds.

  • A terminators cyborg skin may carry a particular cellular residue capable of being recognized by the superior senses of the dog.

  • The machines may also make signature ultrasonic sounds which would be unable to be heard by humans but could be recognized by trained dogs, long before they ever saw the machines.

  • A dog's sense of hearing has been shown to be aware of the change in tectonic pressures right before an earthquake.

As far as the T-1000 class of machines, their material makeup requires energy and likely the emission of electromagnetic phenomena such as heat. Despite there being no sound to us as humans, their shape-changing capacity may emit an auditory signal easily perceived by dogs and cats.

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    It is not only trained dogs that bark at terminators. The one outside the hotel that Sarah and Kyle are hiding in barks at it as it pulls up. – Stefan Oct 21 '13 at 9:18
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    I dont think Humans train the dogs to recognise Termiantors as "wolfy" was untrained and barking at the T1000 in T2 . – howler Oct 21 '13 at 9:42
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    Untrained dogs may simply find the mixture of meat and metal to be disturbing enough to not recognize it and consider it threatening. For dogs, strange is bad. – Thaddeus Howze Oct 21 '13 at 9:43
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    @SachinShekhar The T-1000 was described as "A mimetic poly-alloy" and "Liquid metal" in T2. IMDB makes no mention of Claytronics in it's quotes section; and a Google search for 'claytronics terminator' didn't return anything that looked like a cannon use/citation of the term. Regardless, to quote The Bard "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet", or inhuman in this case. – Dan Is Fiddling By Firelight Oct 21 '13 at 13:49
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    Maybe they barked because of the way the T-1000 acted. Dogs have been bread for thousands of years to be sensitive to human cues and expressions. Maybe the 'uncanny valley' is wider for dogs. – Jason Goemaat Nov 27 '13 at 0:16

Dogs (in contrast with wolves) bark for all sorts of reasons. They bark when they're happy and excited. They bark when they want attention. They bark as a threat display or as a warning. Sometimes it's to be social. Sometimes they bark for hours just to bark (or possibly out of boredom or loneliness).

So it's very unlikely that non-specifically trained dogs in the Terminator universe would be effective Terminator-detectors. There would be a ton of false positives every time a pet owner walked by or they see the mailman or just whenever a stranger enters their territory.

But the reason dogs can sense a stranger long before they're visible is because dogs have very sensitive hearing and many can also recognize the cadence of an individual's steps. This is how dogs are able to guess who's at the door before the door is opened.

Even if the T-1000 mimics the appearance and voice of someone the dog knows, they might not be able to perfectly imitate that person's walk or scent, and that could very well unsettle the dog enough to cause them to bark. Otherwise, the dog is probably just barking because it senses a stranger/intruder in its territory. This is depicted in many movies and TV shows and also happens in real life. They're not barking because a Terminator is around.

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    Dogs can recognize more than footsteps. I used to live with a dog that would recognize my car when I turned on to the street, a long block away. And no, I didn't have a loud exhaust or squealing belts. – Zeiss Ikon Nov 28 '17 at 14:24
  • @ZeissIkon I can believe that. Dogs with particularly good hearing could probably tell the difference between two cars of the same make and model just from the sound. – Lèse majesté Dec 1 '17 at 8:00

Electromagnetic fields generated by earthquakes is what some people believe to be the reason why dogs bark at them. "Other ideas suggest they detect electrical changes..." -National Geographic. The EMF coming off of a terminator could be at just the right frequency.

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